Posted on November 02, 2018 by Mary Hood | 0 Comments
Have you ever wondered how diamonds became the creme de la creme of gemstones? Yes, diamonds are the hardest mineral (with a Mohs score of 10), and they do have the unique ability to reflect light in the colors of the rainbow when properly cut (a quality known as fire). But it’s hard to deny that other stones are just as captivating, especially when we factor in different tastes. Plus, diamonds aren’t even particularly rare (in fact, they’re one of the most common gems on earth).
Yet, somehow, contemporary culture has maintained its adoration of the diamond. Since most of us can remember, diamonds have been the symbol of status, wealth, glamour, and even romantic love. While there are plenty of reasons to value diamonds, our generations-old fixation with the stone may actually be partially rooted in some clever marketing.
It all began in the 19th century. Thanks to what writer Edward Jay Epstein refers to as “the diamond invention,” marketers in the diamond industry were able to perpetuate the idea that diamonds are rare and incredibly valuable. This campaign, however, was born precisely because recently discovered large diamond mines threatened the profitable balance of supply and demand. Until 1870, diamonds were primarily found in a few riverbeds and in the jungles of Brazil, but a major discovery of diamonds near the Orange River in South Africa rendered diamonds more common—and therefore potentially less able to fetch a steep price.
In response, diamond investors combined their interests in De Beers Consolidated Mines, Ltd. in 1888. Although De Beers went by several names in different countries, its mission was singular—control the diamond industry and foster the illusion that diamonds were still rare and exclusive. To this end, the monopoly relied on a marketing scheme connecting diamonds to sentiment. In 1947, diamonds were cemented as a symbol of eternal love and high status through the famous “A Diamond Is Forever” ad campaign.
The heavy marketing behind diamonds doesn’t have to ruin the stone for anyone, however. Regardless of diamonds’ ubiquity, they can still feel incredibly special once they’re in a perfect setting—and especially if they’re a gift from a loved one. And let’s not forget the allure of vintage diamonds, which usually have an interesting backstory. Also, there’s plenty of opportunities to be a positive force in the diamond industry. By supporting artisanal diamond miners and working with your jeweler to ensure your diamonds are conflict-free, you’ll be contributing to a market that promotes fair treatment of workers. Learn more here.
Are you a diamond lover? What’s your favorite diamond piece?
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Photos: Wikimedia Commons, De Beers, Barbara Michelle Jacobs