If you want to sell things, you need advertising. This rings true for everything from motor oil to diet books to iPhones. Here is a collection of various marketing campaigns throughout the ages that attempt to sell diamonds and diamond jewelry. We start in the 40’s, when diamond advertising first became prominent (thanks primarily to a tiny company called “DeBeers”) and move all the way to today, where precious gemstone ads are just as prevalent, if vastly different from the past. Each decade of designs says a lot about our mentality as a country. The rampant sexism of the earlier decades would be replaced by what can be considered sexy, empowering images and motifs. Eventually things take a turn for the ironic, with beauty taking a backseat to the conceptual, oblique and even grotesque. Finally, we are faced with a series of recent pitches that have a throwback or “vintage” slant.
The good, the bad, and the unintentionally (and intentionally) ugly. We’ve got ’em all.
You can practically smell the Brill Cream from this guy’s hair, can’t you?
This ad from 1948 features a quaint image from “Keepsake Diamond Rings,” with the incredibly clever tagline “Something very special …for a very special someone.” Ah, see what they did there? This palindromic masterpiece must have made them a pretty penny (…a penny was a lot of money back then).
The 50’s took a turn for the more realistic in terms of diamond ads. Improvements in photo replication technology now allowed companies, such as Cartier here in this 1958 spread, to showcase clear images of actual diamonds. Note the anything-but-subtle “shown actual size” message, prompting would-be buyers to stick their fingers right next to the ad (or through it) to see how fabulous they’ll look with diamond rings all over them.
Yet not all diamond companies went for the realistic approach…
The mother of all diamond behemoths, DeBeers, chose to continue their infamous “a diamond is blah blah” campaign with this humdinger here. A rococo/semi-surrealist painting of a lady with a Barry Manilow haircut, on a mountain, holding a large purple flower with a diamond at its core. Also, there is a solar eclipse happening there for some reason. Maybe this was to appeal to the Beatniks of the time?
Things took a turn for the metaphorical during the 60’s, it would appear. This 1966 Tiffany’s ad featuring diamond rings dangling from a fish hook sends the unequivocal message that women are to be lured into a man’s salty, fisherman-like clutches and either stuffed and mounted on a wall…or potentially released. The “by hook or by crook” message (aka “by any means necessary”) suggests that you (men) need to somehow save up and get these diamonds if you want a chance to be with a woman – or, if targeted at the ladies: you (women) need to do whatever you can to land a man…who’ll buy you these diamonds that you so desperately need.
A year later Tiffany would release this pretty foxy compilation of rings highlighting different diamond shapes, fashioned into a question mark. The “decisions…decisions…” message is a clever way to suggest that you have the power to choose exactly which style of diamond ring (or rings!) you want to own (never taking into “question” the thought that you may not be able to afford a full punctuation point’s worth of diamonds.)
Bulova went in a new direction in the 70’s – a time when feminism really began to cruise with momentum – and created this ad that took an appreciative tone heralding all that wives have done for their husbands over time. …It’s too bad this ad looks more like a prison sentence of some sort, where the cook-wife is forever sentenced to the maintenance of this impossibly heavy looking cast iron pan. “I love you – here’s a watch.” Aww, how sweet. “Now make me some scrabbled eggs, I have to get to work, woman!”
Yes, they brought sexy “back.”
Apparently backs were all the rage when it came to 80s diamond jewelry marketing. These two photographs from a diamond-backed DeBeers campaign demonstrate just how “backward” thinking can translate into fashion forward designs. “He still knows how to send chills up and down my spine.” The hyper-sexualized text seems to be targeted more towards the male demographic (while the undertone is that the only way they can really make their beaus tingle is with highly expensive neck adornments.)
DeBeers switched tactics in the 90’s, from the sexy and sleek images of the 80’s, and aimed for a totally different type of diamond customer: older people. If they made it this far, they might as well blow their savings on diamonds, right?
Tiffany & Co. went down the road less traveled and chose simplicity in copy, letting the dazzling diamonds speak for themselves in this ad from 1990. The jewelry does all the work here, with just a little stylistic help from the iconic light blue colored Tiffany’s box. The feng shui of the jewelry is so expertly designed, the display is such a work of art…that you barely notice how hideously ostentatious and garish the actual jewelry is.
As we took a flying leap into the new millennium, not only did advertising tactics change, but so did the businesses themselves. Note the name of this company: “Diamonds.com.” They cleverly spun this Y2K ad showcasing an actual web (made of diamonds, naturally) to highlight the figurative “web” of the internet, where their business is based. Have to admit, even though the concept of being ensnared in a sticky encasement of despair (where a vile and voracious creature lurks around the corner, waiting to utterly consume you), should be disturbing…it makes for a really cool ad. Is it a meta-ad, suggesting that we (the consumers) are aware that the entire industry is predatory and wants us to spend our money on something that will ultimately ruin and destroy us? Are the 2000’s so laden with self-reflective irony that we are indeed cognizant of these themes, but just ignore them in favor of style? Who knows; just let the web of marketing manipulation continue to be woven…
Continuing with the vermin/harbinger-of-doom-animals juxtaposed with diamonds are these two Harry Winston ads. …Um, yea…
Iconography is definitely “key” in this Tacori ad. No words, no problem. We easily digest the message that diamonds are the indispensable entrance to many things: a girl’s heart, looking spectacular…crippling debt… The antique look of the key gives the ad a fable motif as well, further instilling the notion of diamond rings as the necessary element to a fairytale life. Selling ephemeral dreams has never been so easy.
Last we have our good friends at DeBeers, back with a series of (mildly offensive?) ads that seem to take a little special something from all the previous decades’ pitches. A stark black background, a vividly showcased piece of diamond jewelry and a misogynistic message. Just what diamond sales are all about.
All these diamonds being forced on you, through both overt and subliminal methods, may have you feeling the opposite effect right now. If you’d like to GET RID of any diamond jewelry in your possession and reclaim a maximum amount of your exhausted funds, there luckily is an answer. Diamond Lighthouse doesn’t sell diamonds – we don’t even buy them – we help people sell them for the most money imaginable. Find out how you can show the Madison Avenue marketing mavens that their ads just don’t do it for you anymore, and how you can get yourself properly paid – right here.