Tag Archives: diamonds are forever

Marketing Diamonds through the Decades

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It’s not new news that marketing plays a huge role in the success of an industry, diamonds included. Marketers describe how pretty, inspiring, and romantic an item is. They make promises and give the item meaning. But what about marketing the concept of the market itself? The diamond industry is a sparkling example of the use of an ingenious concept known as the perception of scarcity to successfully create real value in an item—more or less out of thin air.

Diamonds are not actually a rare gem, but they are rare enough in the consumer market to enjoy an incredible mark-up from their raw price.

Before 1870, however, diamonds were rare, with their total global production only amounting to several pounds per year. That year, miners discovered diamonds by the pound near the Orange River in South Africa. Now, diamond mines in multiple locations, such as the Democratic Republic of Congo and Russia, yield several thousand pounds per year.

Diamonds everywhere! Awesome! Lots of people can make lots of money because we can sell more diamonds. It’s like a diamond rush, right? Well, it turned out to be only sort of awesome for some people, a problem that De Beers recognized right away.

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Imagine picking out the perfect dress for prom—you traveled across the country to get it. (Guys, work with me here.) You’re going to be the only person there wearing a dress from California, or New York, or Alaska, or wherever across the country is for you. Imagine putting on the dress, admiring yourself in the mirror, getting lost in the way its perfect hue brings out your eyes. Imagine how special you feel, how valuable. Now, imagine showing up to prom and seeing not one, not two, but ten other girls wearing the same dress. To make matters worse, they all got it from the Macy’s sale rack down the street. Suddenly you know you are quite a bit more anonymous, you feel less pretty, less valuable. Your date turns to you a futilely mumbles, “You look prettier than all of those girls in that dress…” then trails off and wanders over to the punch table. You’re left standing alone, unnoticeable, in the threshold of the gym doorways until other well-dressed prom-goers push past you. You and the ten other girls wearing your dress fade away into relative obscurity.

What if you could buy all of those prom dresses before the ten girls got them, then re-sell them to girls at other proms for a higher price than you paid, girls you would never, ever see wearing your dress. Would you do it? I’ll answer that for you: Yes.

And that is exactly what De Beers and Friends did. No, they did not go into the prom dress business. They controlled the market. They couldn’t have everyone knowing that diamonds were easy to come by, and certainly couldn’t have everyone else taking diamonds and doing with them what they would. So what did DeBeers do? They bought them. All.

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1888: The Diamond Ring

Because De Beers and other big names in the industry recognized catastrophe in abundance, they banded together and began operating in different regions under accurate but forgettable names such as the Diamond Trading Company, Diamond Development Corporation, and Mining Services, Inc. These companies are today collectively known as “the Syndicate.” (The Atlantic)

1938: De Beers Pursues the American Dream

Harry Oppenheimer of DeBeers saw the diamond market threatening to plunge due to the outbreak of war in Europe, so he turned away from watching the laws of supply and demand work on their own. Instead, he went to Philadelphia and hired Ayer himself of the advertising firm, N.W. Ayer & Son.

1947: Forever Begins

The fat cats at DeBeers saw that their marketing plans in the United States were working for the most part, but asked Ayer to up the ante a bit. Thus, one of the most influential advertising slogans of all time was born: “A Diamond is Forever.” Has a ring to it, don’t you think? (ADWEEK)

1950s and 1960s: The Making of an Heirloom

According to HowStuffWorks.com, after a decade or so of marketing the forever-ness of diamonds, DeBeers encouraged people to keep diamonds as family heirlooms. The goal behind this marketing campaign was to prevent people from re-selling diamonds, leaving most of the diamond sales in essentially the entire world to the fine folks at De Beers. They began instructing diamond owners to hang on to their precious gems, and Americans listened.

2004: The Acceptance of Unmarried Women

With their finger ever on the pulse of the diamond market, and their hands ever in their pockets, De Beers saw yet another plunge in sales. Instead of trying to force feed the old school idea of a woman hanging all of her hopes and dreams on marriage, the idea of the right hand ring slowly crept into the American psyche. “The left hand says ‘we,’ the right hand says ‘me,’” the campaign explained, encouraging women to expand their idea of the love symbolized by a diamond.

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In these uncertain times, one thing seems certain: diamonds are here to stay, even if their meaning changes. Get the most value for yours with Diamond Lighthouse.

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The Weird Origins of 6 Wedding Ceremony Symbols

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Carrying the Bride Over the Threshold

The tradition of carrying the bride over the threshold symbolizes the entrance of a newly betrothed man and woman into their new home and their new legally married life together, but the reason behind doing those precise motions to symbolize this moment in life are less lighthearted than it may seem.

It’s not exactly new knowledge that women were considered buyable and sellable property, but you probably didn’t know about the kidnappings. Back in the day, as they say, brides were chosen by a hormonal male, and he and his tribe of merry men would hunt her down and take her—just pluck her from her surroundings—then carry back to his lair and train her to be a submissive wife. Probably wasn’t a photographer present to capture the moment…

Other, gentler versions of the history of the threshold tradition say that the bride was vulnerable to evil spirits, especially in the threshold of the house, a place where spirits liked to lurk. The new husband would lift her up and protect her from said spirits as she entered her new home.

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Matching Bridesmaids’ Dresses

Lots of evil spirits seemed to be lurking about back before we had science, and it seems they liked weddings. Bridesmaids, or friends and family of the bride, used to wear all white to match the bride, which was intended to confuse the evil spirits that wanted to hurt or kill the bride. That’s friendship right there! Nowadays, bridesmaids spend an average of $1,695 on their friends’ weddings, but back then, they risked their lives.

This tradition transformed into only the bride wearing the white dress (duh), but that trend wasn’t actually re-popularized until Queen Victoria did it in 1840. Before that, brides simply wore their best dress and the small ceremony was conducted in their homes, unless they were nobility. (Patches from the Past)

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Bride on the Left, Groom on the Right

The etiquette of placing the bride on the left and the groom on the right, it is said, is derived from the ol’ capture method of finding a wifey. Apparently, marriage had to happen quickly when the wife was a stolen good, because the husband-to-be held the bride with his left hand while slapping away the bride’s tribe with his right. (This begs the question: What happened if old boy was a lefty?) Other versions of history state that scripture is generally interpreted to place the bride on the left and the groom on the right for what seems to be no apparent reason.

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Honeymoon

The honeymoon tradition derived from yet another overt expression of ownership. The groom, after marriage, traditionally burrowed his bride away for about a month for, as one website put it, “mating purposes.” The “moon” part of the word is directly related to the bride’s menstrual cycle, and the “honey” part is related to the couple boozing it up. After getting hitched, a new couple drank honey mead, a sweet, beer-like drink that was supposed to make the woman more fertile.

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Wedding Bouquet

People stunk back then. And not just because they stole and bought girls for “breeding,” but because they plain old smell bad, especially when there are a bunch of them in a room together. Some sources say bridal bouquets did double duty on the day of the wedding, warding of both evil spirits and bad smells.

Other sources say the wedding bouquet itself was kind of stinky, being made of garlic and dill in an effort to ward off the plague. Garlic and dill were thought to prevent people from contracting the illness.

Engagement Rings

Today engagement rings are pretty much the norm for most couples getting married.  The history of the engagement ring is pretty storied in and of itself.  Before actual rings were fashioned for this purpose by civilized man, “The caveman tied cords made of braided grass around his chosen mate’s wrists, ankles, and waist, to bring her spirit under his control,” according to Reader’s Digest.

The concept of the “diamond engagement ring” came into vogue (not coincidentally) around 1948, just as DeBeers unleashed their “Diamonds are Forever” campaign.  As DeBeers stockpiled diamonds, they essentially had a stranglehold on the market, as they could dictate supply.  Bolstered by their catchy new marketing line, DeBeers began to foster the idea that diamond engagement rings should always be held on to, and never sold.

Luckily, for many people who have diamond jewelry they no longer need, the stigma of selling diamond rings and things has all but disappeared.  At Diamond Lighthouse, we specialize in getting people the absolute best value for their unwanted diamond jewelry.  The past will always be the past; it’s nice to know that the future looks quite bright.

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The Evolution of the American Wedding

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The romantic and whimsical tradition of the typical American wedding is embedded in the serious and very un-romantic world of finance, and many specific parts of the ceremony symbolize or mimic portions of that financial process. Let’s start with the word “wedding” itself, which comes from wedd, which literally means the purchase of a bride. “Purchase,” in this context, means exactly what it means in every other context: to buy, then own to do with it what you will, a particular piece of property. The property, in this case, was a person bought from another person for the express purpose of “sexual release, procreation, and household labor.”

We’ve moved on from that strange and creepy way of thinking, and the notion of a man owning a woman is clearly taboo in the United States at this point. In addition to altering those tired mindsets, American wedding traditions have helped enable the bride by feminizing the wedding ceremony itself, putting the women in charge of the flowery, lacey, satiny aesthetic.

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However, it took a long time for weddings to evolve to what they are today. Before the early 1800s, weddings were vastly more subdued affairs. An article in The Examiner explained that before there was a large middle class, many Americans couldn’t afford a lavish ceremony. Instead, to celebrate the union of a couple, they had intimate parties at their houses with their families, a far cry from the debt-inducing ceremonies and receptions we see today. Generally, the parties were held in the parents’ house and were held within the family’s means. To make the marriage more public, a Sunday church service was held in order to recognize them in holy matrimony.

In addition to having less extravagant ceremonies, brides wore less extravagant dresses. Many women simply wore their best dress, or bought a new dress for the occasion that was still wearable on a daily basis. Most women wore darker colors and floral patterns, partially in the name of practicality. Darker colors and floral patterns were not nearly as difficult to clean as white and ivory dresses, but they were also generally considered more stylish (Patches from the Past). The bridal veil, which was first used to hide the bride until the knot was tied should the groom not like the looks of his new wife, was added to wedding bonnets, which were often the only piece of bridal garb a bride could afford, so she wore it with a dark-colored dress.

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The bride’s emblematic white dress was popularized by Queen Victoria of Great Britain (and now has its own Wikipedia page), who chose a white satin gown for her big day. Ingenuity in an effort to mimic the stylish royalty made it possible for even middle class women to wear a white dress, and the style took off like wildfire.

After the Industrial Revolution, many Americans began to enjoy more luxuries as part of a burgeoning middle class, and the wedding ceremony was one of the main parts of life to get an upgrade. In the 1920s, just 80 years after Queen Victoria’s wedding, professional wedding planners came on the scene. By the 1950s, according to Random History, weddings were becoming uniform across the nation and brides began to rebel against those ideas. Some brides chose not to get married in churches, while others asked the whole bridal party to take a trip, giving rise to the concept of the destination wedding in the 1970s.

By the 1980s, British Royal family nuptials set a trend once again. Princess Diana and Prince Charles’s patently traditional wedding (which also has its own Wikipedia page) brought the cookie cutter marriage ceremony back into style, adding a few bucks to the average expenditure in order to mimic Di’s dream day, bringing the average cost of a wedding today up to $25,200.

The current wedding climate in the United States seems to be changing again, many wedding planners have reported. The coming of age of the kids who grew up on Harry Potter books (the first book came out in 1997, meaning the kids who were 11, Harry’s age, at the time are now nearing 30) has brought on many Harry Potter themed weddings, and the widespread embracement of nerddom has made the prospect of a high fantasy themed wedding more attractive than ever.

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One tradition that is just as prevalent as ever is the exchange of (diamond) wedding rings.  Typically the diamond wedding ring that the bride receives has a variety of smaller diamonds around the band, as opposed to the diamond engagement ring, which usually features one large diamond.  Of course, now more than ever, there are many, many variations to these ring styles that people have been exploring.  If you are in possession of a diamond ring of any sort and are looking to sell it, please check out Diamond Lighthouse.  Getting people the most money for their diamond jewelry is a tradition that we have started that is sure to last for a very long time.

Learn more.

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How Diamonds Became “Forever”

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The Birth of Diamond Marketing as We Know It

Diamonds haven’t been forever…well, forever. In fact, they’ve only been “Forever” (with a capital F) since 1948, when “A Diamond is Forever,” the tagline Advertising Age would later dub “Slogan of the Century,” was launched. The grammatically incorrect ad campaign was created by N.W. Ayer & Son, a Philadelphia advertising agency hand selected in 1938 by the chairman of De Beers Consolidated Mines, Harry Oppenheimer.

N.W. Ayer himself was on the problem immediately, and stayed on it for nearly a decade, slinging diamond encrusted everythings at celebrities like Marilyn Monroe, Rosalind Russel, and even the British Royal family. Five years after Oppenheimer showed up in his offices, Ayer hired Mary Frances Gerety, a Philadelphia-area woman who can be credited with the string of four words that altered the American Dream, bringing on a much-needed change for the fairly flailing diamond industry. (It wasn’t actually “flailing,” more just “anticipating a slight downward spiral,” as De Beers still owned 90 percent of the world’s diamond production. However, Oppenheimer did sense trouble in the midst due to the onset of war in Europe and distress in the Great Depression.) Gerety was hired “at the right time,” because Ayer had just lost a female copywriter, according to the The New York Times.
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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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