I’m sure you’ve heard of a few great diamond myths over time.
Diamonds most definitely are a girl’s best friend, you absolutely should be spending up to three months of your salary on an engagement ring and diamonds? They last forever.
The message that isn’t communicated as frequently as those cliches is this one: the diamond movement was born out of one of the most savvy PR campaigns in history.
De Beers, the company that had the monopoly on the diamond market for decades, in 1938 decided it was time to get Americans invested in diamonds again. It was around the time of the Great Depression, families were struggling to put food in their mouths and diamonds, unsurprisingly, weren’t the priority.
In fact, The Herald Sun reported late last year than the 1930s, less than 10 per cent of couples proposed with a diamond. Today, in the US, that number is closer to 80 per cent.
Closer to home, on our own soil, Choice found that couples in Australia spend an average of $5000 on engagement rings. So how did De Beers manage to turn around their branding from one saturated in the idea of luxury to one that was focused on the everyday couple?
In 1938, De Beers turned to an advertising agency called N. W. Ayer to help market their product as not just an item, but as an idea, a concept, and a movement.
A widely cited piece on diamonds by Edward Epstein in the Atlantic in 1982 reported that N.W. Ayer noted in its campaign that “there was no direct sale to be made. There was no brand name to be impressed on the public mind. There was simply an idea — the eternal emotional value surrounding the diamond.” It’s a common advertising tactic used today, but at the time, it was revolutionary.
Essentially, De Beers built on this to infiltrate the mindset of young couples. With regards to engagements, diamonds were to be the status quo. Men were expected to buy them and women expected to wear them.