Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Diamonds are Forever

Sure, Shirley Bassey, James Bond, and Kanye West all say that diamonds are forever...until they get chipped, scratched, or the De Beers company goes under. That last one is pretty unlikely though, considering their current hold on the market and their history of absolutely brilliant advertising campaigns.

Seriously, did you think diamond engagement rings were an old, romantic tradition? Nope, the concept of a diamond symbolizing "true love" and marriage was created by the N.W. Ayer company (then a major advertising firm) about 70 years ago. De Beers hired them to help consolidate their empire - which meant controlling the demand for diamonds as well their supply.

"Both women and men had to be made to perceive diamonds not as marketable precious stones but as an inseparable part of courtship and married life. To stabilize the market, De Beers had to endow these stones with a sentiment that would inhibit the public from ever reselling them. The illusion had to be created that diamonds were forever -- "forever" in the sense that they should never be resold."

It was and is a brilliant strategy. Diamonds went from just another gemstone to an essential component of an engagement in the eyes of most Americans (the De Beers campaign didn't take hold as well in post-WWII Europe). Not only did this mean that plenty of diamonds were sold, it discouraged any resales.

"Except for those few stones that have been destroyed, every diamond that has been found and cut into a jewel still exists today and is literally in the public's hands. Some hundred million women wear diamonds, while millions of others keep them in safe-deposit boxes or strongboxes as family heirlooms. It is conservatively estimated that the public holds more than 500 million carats of gem diamonds, which is more than fifty times the number of gem diamonds produced by the diamond cartel in any given year. Since the quantity of diamonds needed for engagement rings and other jewelry each year is satisfied by the production from the world's mines, this half-billion-carat supply of diamonds must be prevented from ever being put on the market. The moment a significant portion of the public begins selling diamonds from this inventory, the price of diamonds cannot be sustained. For the diamond invention to survive, the public must be inhibited from ever parting with its diamonds."

Read the whole article here - "Have you ever tried to sell a diamond?"


Anonymous said...

Re-selling your diamond has such a bag stigma attached to it now. People will automatically assume that it is a result of your broken engagement.

DeBeers going under? that's a shocker!

Sparkles said...

I'm like a magpie - can't go pasta jewellers without being drawn in by all the pretty sparklies :)

Thanks for the article link, I really enjoyed it.


Anonymous said...

that's quite an interesting article. I wonder if diamonds would be worth what they are worth now if it wasnt for the whole 'diamonds symbolise love' and all that stuff...

Anonymous said...

have you seen blood diamond? it really opened my eyes about the diamond industry.