Today’s end-consumer is really discerning. With the accessibility of the internet, many shoppers have done incredible amounts of research before they enter your independent jewellery retail business. They arrive armed with knowledge of the 4Cs, but also a deeper understanding of colour grading, clarity grading, fancy cuts and colours, settings and precious metals. To engage this kind of self-educated consumer, a sales associate needs to be able to impart diamond wisdom in a way that can’t be replicated online. That means handling diamonds, demonstrating, perhaps with a loupe, the differences between stonesand sharing the history, heritage and properties of diamonds in a way that builds a complete, ‘diamond story’.
In recent months, the team at De Beers Group Industry Services and our educational arm, De Beers Group Institute of Diamonds, has worked with national and international retail businesses who recognise the need to be one step ahead. In Thailand, for example, we have an on-going relationship with retail jeweller, Aurora – a business that really understand the importance of continuous professional development for its staff. Aurora has just over 200 stores across Thailand. It needs to ensure its staff have the confidence to handle diamonds and an ability to use the 4Cs as a foundation when telling the ‘diamond story’ behind each piece. In the autumn of 2019, we trained 200 Aurora staff members over two weeks in Bangkok. Our courses were translated live into Thai making this one of the most ambitious and large-scale retail training projects we have ever worked on.
Aurora has gone to such efforts to drive its diamond sales, but also to build consumer confidence in its staff as ‘diamond experts’. Now, 200 of its staff members have the knowledge to answer a wide range of questions, identify the differences between diamonds, and consider how these differences impact the final grading report of each stone.
De Beers Group Institute of Diamonds retail training courses translate our Diamond Foundation Course knowledge for real-life sales situations. Just as every diamond is different, so too is every sales scenario. Our retail training focuses on understanding the areas in which consumers lack information or confidence, while using diamond knowledge to provide solutions, raise awareness and build face-to-face relationships.
In the UK market, we have found that retailers are utilising the De Beers Group Institute of Diamonds Diamond Foundation course to get staff up-to-speed. Eddi Norris, director of sales at Hearts of London Group in Hatton Garden, explains how his company has used the course as part of its employee induction program in 2019. He says: “The use of interactive graphics with a mixture of audio and text-based tutorials caters to multiple learning styles and keeps the modules fresh and interesting. We've found the flexibility of the online course enables our staff to manage their own workload at a time that suites them. The downloadable revision guides mean you can easily refresh your knowledge throughout the course and after. We'll certainly be continuing to partner with the De Beers Group for our employee training and education for 2020.”
We are entering a new chapter in diamond education. We have to go above and beyond what the customer can quickly search online, right to the heart of the ‘diamond story’. Being able to impart knowledge and practically demonstrate what makes diamonds special in the retail context is what diamond education is all about for 2020 and beyond.
Find out more about De Beers Group Institute of Diamonds by visiting debeersgroupinstitute.com.