Diamonds are forever. We’ve been hearing about this for a long time now. They are a symbol of love, romance, commitment, wealth and power. If you believe movies and advertisements then they are a must have for every marriage proposal. Sweep her off her feet, fellas with one of a kind diamond ring by spending two months of your salary on it.
Contrary to popular belief, diamonds are not forever. In fact nothing is forever let alone a sparkly shiny stone. Diamonds are worth atleast 50% less than what you paid for it.
History Of Diamond Engagement Rings
Archduke Maximilian of Austria was the first documented gentleman to present a diamond offering to his beloved bride-to-be Mary of Burgundy in 1477.
The “Star of South Africa,” an 83.5 carat rough diamond, was uncovered and sold for 500 sheep, ten head of cattle and a horse in 1869. That discovery soon led to the first diamond rush. Founded by Cecil Rhodes (of the Rhodes Scholarship), the De Beers Corporation purchased diamond-mining fields from as early as 1887 in South Africa. As a result, Rhodes and his brother Barney Barnato were the sole owners of all diamond mining operations in the country.
By 1902 De Beers controlled 90 percent of world diamond production monopolizing the diamond market. They stockpiled diamonds and sold them strategically to control price.
Their Marketing Campaign
Since diamonds weren’t rare stones anymore investors were concerned that it would cause prices to drop in the market. As a result, their marketing goal became one of perpetuating the concept of rarity for the precious stones.
Turmoil of war and the Great Depression still they managed to sky-rocket the diamond sale. How did that happen?
In 1938, the De Beers corporation established a marketing campaign to fight declining sales. The premise of the campaign was to change the public’s opinion on diamond ownership from unnecessary luxury to a purchase that would last forever (for that to happen they attached an emotional idea to it).
De Beers hired Philadelphia ad agency N.W. Ayer in 1938. Frances Gerety, at the time, was the only female copywriter for the agency, working primarily on ads related to women’s product.
In 1947 Gerety threw out the famous line “A Diamond Is Forever.” It wasn’t received well by colleagues but the campaign was remarkably successful and sales skyrocketed with an increase in sales upwards of 50% within the first three years of its launch.
According to NYT, N.W. Ayer’s game plan was to “create a situation where almost every person pledging marriage feels compelled to acquire a diamond engagement ring”
The tagline has since appeared in every engagement advertisement of the company from 1948 to the present.
In 1999, the magazine Advertising Age named “A Diamond Is Forever” the slogan of the century.
Diamonds Are Not Forever
Unfortunately a relatively new study suggests that “the bigger the diamond engagement ring, the shorter the marriage might be.” According to a study by Andrew Francis and Hugo Mialon, professors in the Department of Economics at Emory University in Atlanta. They examined the association between wedding spending and marriage duration using data from a survey of over 3,000 people in the U.S. who got married. In their research paper, Olson notes, the Emory researchers say that the financial burden incurred by lavish, expensive weddings leads to financial stress for the couple, which ultimately tears the marriage apart. One theory is that big weddings may be a sign that a couple is marrying for the wrong reasons.
Researchers have found that men who spent between $2,000-$4,000 were a third more likely to end their marriages than men who spent an average of $1,250. With statistics showing 50% of marriages ending in divorce and a resale value averaging only a fraction of the purchase price, buying diamonds doesn’t seem like a great investment.
Heart shaped diamond pic from http://www.reenaahluwalia.com
Image Credit: De Beers, Advertising Archives
Other references from http://www.theatlantic.com