How to Market a Diamond

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Diamonds were not always viewed as a symbol of love and devotion; the sentiment, like most popular sentiments these days, was nothing less than the result of advertising and marketing prowess.

In the 1940s, major South African diamond conglomerate, De Beers, decided the diamond ring would be the engagement ring for the ladies of the United States, but they had to figure out how to let everybody else in on the news. They understood that the most important part of marketing diamonds would be associating the gem with the elusive qualities of love. According to Entrepreneur magazine, after conducting some of the most extensive marketing research to date, De Beers’s hired advertising henchmen, who determined that the American public needed to be instructed on the importance of the diamond ring as a symbol of everlasting love.

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Women are easy, at least when it comes to marketing diamonds. A series of public relations campaigns directed at positioning the diamond as the must-have symbol of being loved went hand-in-hand with the competition of keeping up with the Joneses. In the 1940s, women on the silver screen could be seen wearing large, glimmering diamonds on their hands, around their necks, and in their earlobes, and the gem meshed beautifully with the sentimentality of the times. In addition, vocal fashion designers and fashionistas discussed the necessity of diamond accessories on the public wavelengths, and news stories about celebrities giving diamonds to other celebrities surfaced nationwide.

Men, on the other hand, are hard. Men needed rules; they needed instructions. And since diamonds don’t come out of the earth making it immediately apparent what they want from you, someone had to do the translating for them. Adweek detailed several early magazine spreads that spelled out exactly what buying a diamond was all about, explaining in sometimes heavy-handed ways that a diamond was necessary to express one’s love.

One of the rules that still holds “true” today was that a man should spend two months’ worth of his salary on a diamond for the woman he loved. Some ads even overtly pressured men into spending that amount of money with a range of rhetorical questions with inevitable answers all built around the “forever” theme, beginning with the gentler, “How can you make two months’ salary last forever?” to essentially bullying men in love by asking, “Isn’t two months’ salary a small price to pay for something that lasts forever?” De Beers’s marketing company, N.W. Ayer & Sons, added instructions explaining “How to Buy a Diamond” to every ad. Those instructions delineated the “4 Cs” of diamond selection: color, clarity, cutting, and carats.

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When diamond marketing first began, many images of lovely women with diamonds floating near their pretty heads flooded the market. The ad spreads poetically explained the meaning of the stone itself, alluding to mystical staples like stars, planetary alignment, and the gods. As with one ad described in Adweek, many diamond ads described the sizes and prices of the stones themselves, convincing readers that diamonds embodied the destiny of love. Later ads incorporated diamonds that had been set in actual jewelry, showing them at the height of their sentimentality, glistening from a delicate hand or nestled among flowers or on a soft pillow.

In 2004, a trend directed at independent women encouraged girls to buy their own diamonds with a campaign that hung vehemently to the feminized qualities of the stone. Again, many female celebrities were seen wearing diamonds, but this time on their right hands. They are seen as a symbol of independence and self-love, and the campaign worked for many retailers, like Costco and Walmart, both of which saw an increase in sales. Modern marketing, of course, includes Twitter hashtags, slogan websites, and diamonds that use the word “forever” in their name.

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While diamond marketing has changed with the times, the American understanding of their symbolism has, if anything, become more deeply ingrained into the national psyche. Women and men have been successfully trained to accept the diamond as a symbol of love and devotion, which means their re-sale value is not overlooked. Tap into the work De Beers has already done, and get the greatest value for your diamond with Diamond Lighthouse.

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