The Birth of the Indo Argyle Diamond Council
1994 was our first trip to India with Argyle and it was a wondrous, eye opening experience. The India people were warm, friendly, welcoming and appreciative. As we met the Argyle rough customers we began to evolve an idea to help them grow their businesses and help Argyle to add value to their product and become the preferred differentiated rough diamond supplier.
It was the birth of the Indo Argyle Diamond Council, an international trade marketing initiative that would transform the diamond jewelry industry and create a path for Argyle to leave the DeBeers Central Selling Organization and become the first diamond mining organization to sell their diamonds directly to their own customers.
The Indo Argyle Diamond Council (IADC) spotted a trend happening in the marketplace and exploited it quickly. Our research with the Argyle rough customers showed us a path and together with Argyle we evolved the IADC program.
At its core was this key pain point for the Indian rough customers of Argyle diamonds...they were paying cash for Argyle rough and it was yielding the smallest size polished diamonds in the world. 95% of Argyle's production was yielding below .02ct polished. The polished output that the Indian customers created was all being set in jewelry (by USA based jewelry wholesalers who were buying the polished diamonds from the Indian cutters and setting it in jewelry in factories throughout the world). The wholesalers were selling that jewelry to the largest jewelry retailers in the USA at good margins. The Argyle customers were making very small margins (5% and lower). The real value add was in the jewelry where the margins would range from 30-50%.
But the Indians had their own jewelry factories and although they were not up to USA retail market standards, they were certainly willing to learn and improve.
And so the IADC came into being by the end of 1994. We worked with the Indian diamond cutters and help them evolve into integrated diamond jewelry manufacturers. We help them design product for the USA market (50% of the world's jewelry retail market), manufacture to the USA QC standards, market and sell to the USA retailers and deliver on time.
Once again the USA jewelry retailers were skeptical. And once again we took it right to them. We came to their offices, we exhibited at trade shows. We flew them to India to see the factories and meet the Indian companies and people.
The increased margins that would come to all players in the pipeline peaked everyone's interest. The Indian diamond cutters became fully integrated diamond cutters, jewelry designers, jewelry manufacturers and distributors, the retailers eliminated the wholesalers (middlemen) and captured that margin for themselves, the consumers got more value for their jewelry budget and the Argyle mine solidified it's place as a fully differentiated supplier of rough mined diamonds and increased their rough pricing.
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The IADC program ran for 13 years and changed the diamond jewelry industry forever.