De Beers polishes Web site's facets

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Even for de beers, a Web site is not forever.

The world's leading diamond mining company in June will relaunch its Diamond Information Center, an online presence featuring improved usability and navigation.

De Beers Consolidated Mines sells diamonds to commercial buyers, who pass them on to designers, jewelry manufacturers and retailers. Because De Beers does not believe its consumer-oriented role is to sell diamonds directly, the site ( will have no e-commerce, banner ads or links to dealers, explained Anne Ritchie, partner and account director at J. Walter Thompson USA, New York, which handles all of De Beers' marketing.

JWT and its interactive arm, Digital@JWT, redesigned the site. Luminant Worldwide, New York, handled site production.

"The overall objective for the site is to become the ultimate diamond resource online," Ms. Ritchie said, by giving information about the history of diamonds, buying and rituals.

"We don't sell directly," she said. "We're interested in trying to promote diamonds in general."


Although De Beers has no plans to link to diamond-selling sites, the company said it is working on a program to drive consumers "closer to the purchase process." It would, however, not elaborate. The only link on the site -- found within the engagement ring-design section -- is to the Jewelers of America, a trade organization for retail jewelers.

"More of our members are reporting that people who are diamond shopping are looking at the Web, but that many of them end up at a retail store after that," said a spokeswoman for the Jewelers of America. "Creating awareness of diamond jewelry is a good thing, no matter how it comes about."

If De Beers were to link to diamond e-tailers, such as or Mondera, or the Web site of bricks-and-mortar retailers, such as Tiffany & Co., it would feel compelled to link to all of them in order to be fair, Ms. Ritchie explained.

An Ashford spokeswoman said the company would not link to De Beers since Ashford also provides educational information.

"We put a lot of the education right on our site so people can have all of that right there while they're shopping," the Ashford spokeswoman said.

The original De Beers site, launched in 1996, was text-heavy and difficult to navigate, Ms. Ritchie said.


The updated version will have a global navigation bar, with pull-down menus across the top, that remains constant so visitors can see everything housed within the site as they travel through it. A search function also will be added to the revamped site.

The horizontal navigation bar was designed with the most strategic message -- how to buy -- on the left, Ms. Ritchie said, so people will click there first. The section contains information on the so-called four Cs of diamond buying: cut, clarity, carat and color.

"A man spends more than 100% more on a diamond when he knows about the four Cs," Ms. Ritchie said.


JWT worked to make this message very visual -- with images of rotating diamonds and only one line of copy for each C. The agency also worked to make the site interactive, thus allowing users to read more about a topic if they choose.

Because there is too much information to convey via offline media, the Web "is the perfect vehicle for us to get that message out," Ms. Ritchie said.

Another De Beers' objective is to allow users to browse through more than 75,000 ring designs. In its offline advertising, De Beers highlights only three engagement ring designs, one in a TV ad and two in print.

"We tried to use the advances in technology and functionality to improve our message," Ms. Ritchie said.

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