“Diamonds are intrinsically worthless, except for the deep psychological need they fill.”
Giving a ring as a symbol of betrothal is not a particularly new practice. It is a custom that has been followed by Romans and medieval English folks alike but these rings were mostly made of silver or gold and occasionally had gems set in them.
During those times, diamonds were neither a girl’s best friend, nor were they forever. Have you ever wondered how it came to be, then? The story behind this is quite spectacular.
This precious gem is a fairly recent necessity in the wedding market. That is because diamonds were rare and not found easily. It all started around 1870 when miners discovered massive diamond mines in South Africa and the rock began to flood the markets. It was disappointment disguised as good news for the diamond business, since an influx of diamonds would dip its market price.
So, in 1888, several diamond miners in South Africa joined forces to create De Beers Consolidated Mines, Ltd.
De Beers was more of a cartel and it would control the flow of diamonds from South Africa and on to the rest of the global market.
But business started to look pretty bad around the 1930s, as the markets were ravaged by an economy crash. So, naturally people began to look for cheaper ways to express their love and the diamond business was steadily dipping. In an attempt to salvage a drowning business, De Beers came out with what is probably one of the best marketing strategies ever.
They hired the ad agency NW Ayer, who set out to make people believe that they desperately needed diamonds.
So, they made Hollywood A-listers wear diamonds, encouraged fashion designers to talk about how diamonds are the newest trend and seamlessly infused references of the importance of diamonds in pop culture.
This marketing ploy worked so wonderfully that the sales shot up by 50 per cent in the first 3 years.
But NW Ayer and De Beers were still to deliver their masterstroke. Copywriter Frances Gerety came up with ‘A Diamond Is Forever’, a slogan so simple and potent that it single-handedly altered consumer psyche.
What that slogan did was not only sell a commodity but an idea. The idea was that a diamond symbolises one’s unbreakable and endless love.
And before anyone knew, the diamond sales shot up exponentially and within two decades, 80 per cent of American women were sporting a diamond. Now that one can buy a diamond ring online, it just shows that we have crossed yet another marketing milestone.
Now, for anyone who does not know this, reselling a diamond is a pretty tough affair. And it is so because it is something like troubleshooting or a bug fix.
Reselling diamonds would result in fluctuations in the market price and eventually devalue the rock. So, forever diamonds are passed on from generation to generation and kept in safe-boxes, which not only increases its value but also its want.
Also, a report by Bain & Company observed that along with USA, China and India are believed to drive most of the growth in diamonds and diamond jewellery in the coming decade.
This is just one example of the power of advertisement, to create a market where there is none and then cater to the needs, or rather wants.