Rapaport Magazine

Antwerp

By Marc Goldstein
HRD Promotes Antwerp Diamonds

In its continuous effort to develop its brand and reinforce its presence in the trade and in retail, HRD Antwerp has launched a new endeavor. “Expanding on our heritage, we want to build ties with prestige jewelers to inform and convince the end customer — the person actually buying a diamond in the store — about diamonds and diamond certification. In creating these flagship cooperative partnerships, we achieve a win-win deal: for the jeweler, the link with a renowned certification institute such as ours instills more confidence in its customer, who will therefore be more inclined to buy,” said Peter Macken, CEO of HRD Antwerp. “As far as we’re concerned, this is also a magnificent way to further increase our lab’s visibility in the market,” added Macken.

Paris Debut
   The first HRD Antwerp flagship store was opened in Paris at the Galeries du Diamant in August. “Paris has a timeless quality when it comes to iconic art and architecture, but is also a city constantly on the move, always on the heels of tomorrow’s trends and pushing the boundaries of design and innovation. Place Vendôme still makes people dream,” explained Macken, elaborating on why Paris was the first choice.
   “Our aim is to promote diamonds from Antwerp, which is why we opened a boutique in Paris to sell exclusively HRD Antwerp–certified diamonds,” said Charles Ziegler, president and owner of Galeries du Diamant. “We welcomed the idea of HRD Antwerp and are very proud to be the first retailer with an HRD Antwerp-certified flagship store label in the world today.”

Five Pillars
   The Antwerp-based lab plans to offer in–store tools clearly explaining the different steps in the diamond certification process. The concept is built around five “pillars,” explaining each of the 4Cs, plus a fifth one — confidence. The pillars have been designed around a key message to customers: “Choose wisely.”
   The goal, according to the lab, is to offer customers a fun and interactive experience that will further distinguish the HRD Antwerp flagship store from other shops. The concept could be expanded with an in-store movie, specially developed to appeal to all the consumers, but mostly to the Millennial generation.

Instilling Confidence
   “Retailers and flagship stores can rely on HRD Antwerp’s education department to train their sales staff to educate customers and instill confidence,” explained Dr. Katrien de Corte, chief officer education of HRD Antwerp. Added David Ziegler, the lab’s sales director, “Consumer confidence is indeed the biggest challenge facing the industry today. With our concept, we clearly explain how the certification process works. Consumers are increasingly using digital channels to gain product information prior to making their final purchase. Physical customer touch-points such as ours will be a great way to generate additional sales and improve brand visibility while providing consumers with a more enticing, trustworthy and sensory brand experience.”

Two Retail Versions
   “We offer two formulas to retailers,” continued Ziegler. “Partners that opt for the flagship-store concept commit to sell only HRD Antwerp–certified diamonds. In exchange, they get advantages such as exclusivity: No other flagship stores will be opened within a certain geographical region. A second formula is ‘shop in a shop.’ This is a modified version that allows retailers and partners also to sell diamonds certified by other diamond labs but offers no exclusivity.”
   If all goes according to plan, HRD Antwerp expects to expand the concept to major fashion and luxury shopping destinations throughout Europe, the Middle East and China, in markets where HRD Antwerp is well known and has a good track record. “We are currently negotiating with large retail chains in China and hope to be able to open a second HRD Antwerp flagship store in world cities like Beijing and Shanghai. Furthermore, we would like to implement the shop-in-shop concept in China as well,” concluded Ziegler.

Article from the Rapaport Magazine - September 2016. To subscribe click here.

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