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When I was young, my parents used to drop me off at my sister’s workplace whenever they had to go out, do errands or go to their work. My sister used to work at a jewelry store inside the mall. I was always surrounded by necklaces, watches, bracelets, and rings. Most of them were all made with these so-called diamonds. I remember going around and looking at all the sparkly accessories and that they were priced ridiculously expensive. Now that I grew up, I finally understood through media and traditions what diamonds are worth to modern-day society.
Rebecca Foester, the president of Alrosa North America, a diamond mining company, stated that the campaign of diamond rings of the De Beers company is considered ‘the most successful advertising campaign in advertising history.’ The De Beers company created the value of diamonds despite it being just a shiny rock. Their campaign ‘Diamond is forever,’ ‘Two months salary,’ guide to buying diamonds and how we always required a diamond ring in weddings are still ingrained in our culture to this very day.
The De Beers company controlled supply, limited distribution, created demand, tradition, and value. With this, the company made diamond rings a status symbol that appealed to both achievers as well as strivers. The company used the democracy of affliction that evoked the American paradox by using the commodification of desire to appear elite and above the crowd while also making diamond rings a staple and common thing brides should always have at weddings.
What makes Diamonds so unique? The crust of the Earth is typically less than 40 kilometers deep, just twice the length of Manhattan. Rubies, sapphires, emeralds are some of the stones that form within the crust but a diamond’s home is deeper. Scientists always measure pressure in pascals and where diamonds form the pressures measurement are five to six gigapascals. Scientists created an analogy where the equivalents of the pascal pressures of diamonds to be 80 elephants that are standing on your foot. The composition of diamonds are also different from other precious gems. Most precious gems are made up of combinations of elements. But for diamonds there is only one and that is Carbon. From a scientific perspective, the essential part of a diamond is small pieces of the mantle that’s been trapped during diamond growth. So these inclusions are the only direct samples that scientists have to study the deep Earth.The oldest diamonds that have been dated are said to predate life on Earth.
The company De Beers dominated the diamond industry for more than a century. Under the company’s watch, diamonds transformed from being a radiant and glistening rock into a significant touchstone deeply integrated into our society’s culture. The company controlled supply, limited distribution, created demand, tradition, and value.
The first step the De beers company did was to control supply. In the 1870s, De Beers didn’t necessarily produce all of the diamonds in the world. They bought supplies from other producers, and this allowed them to control the number of diamonds. Within the two-decade, the De Beers company had 90% of the world’s supply. With the company’s monopolization of the global supply, they created a strategy for its stockpile. That if demand should decline, they would hold back supply to the market. Maintaining the price of diamonds isn’t just about supply but also about demand.
This is the time where the De Beers created demand, the decade before World War II, was the Great Depression. Many people weren’t shopping for diamonds, and the possibility of people selling their diamonds would increase tremendously. The selling of bought diamonds will further enhance the supply in the market and will drive down the price of diamonds.
So De Beers had an idea to hire an advertising firm, (Insert company) who came up with the grandest idea. What if people kept diamonds forever? And with this, the De Beers and the wedding rings with diamonds were forever engraved in our culture. The famous slogan, ‘A diamond is forever.’
Rings had been a universal engagement gift since the early Middle Ages, but the idea that a diamond should be on that ring? That was new. The first campaign ran in the U.S. with paintings by some of the world’s most prominent artists. Such as Salvador Dali and Pablo Picasso and in the artist’s works was the message ‘Diamonds are works of art.’ Many campaigns followed with that same slogan. A diamond ring as an anniversary band shown in fig.1 and the slogan had been working up to this day. These ads were used to create demand, and that’s not some dirty trick. That’s capitalism.
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