Michelle Yeoh adds sparkle to gem project

PUBLISHED : Monday, 27 September, 2004, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 27 September, 2004, 12:00am

The world's biggest diamond trader is using the face of Asian film star Michelle Yeoh Choo Kheng in a campaign to capture the $6 billion a year market in Hong Kong.

De Beers hopes to use its 'diamond is forever' strategy as a testing ground for a launch into the mainland market.

'We think the stunning beauty of Michelle makes her the perfect choice to be the face of our campaign,' said De Beers Group chairman Nicky Oppenheimer on the eve of today's gala launch at the Grand Hyatt.

A De Beers Diamond Trading Company (DTC) 'Forevermark', invisible to the eye, is inscribed on every stone, offering a 'guarantee that it has been watched over by experts at every stage of their journey to the consumer'.

The Forevermark guarantees that the diamond is genuine, natural, and has not been altered or treated by any artificial means, Mr Oppenheimer said.

A company statement said: 'A stone marked with a Forevermark has been mined, sorted, and crafted in an ethically, socially and environmentally responsible way.'

Mr Oppenheimer conceded the effort was part of concerted drive to polish the image of an industry tarnished by a price-fixing scandal and an international public backlash against sales of 'blood' or conflict diamonds.

This follows a US$10 billion dollar payout by De Beers to the US Department of Justice in July after pleading guilty in a case connected to the price list for industrial diamonds between 1991 and 1992.

Today's official launch was preceded by a massive global campaign involving advertising, marketing communications, public relations, and in-store promotions.

Stephen Lussier, executive director of DTC marketing, said: 'Hong Kong is well-positioned to serve as the first market. It also has many quality, proactive retailers and highly discerning, brand-aware consumers.'