In the 1930s, De Beers set out to establish social status for large diamonds through giving a number of starlets hefty stones, arranging for glamorous photo shoots, and script-doctoring Hollywood movies to include scenes of jewelry shopping. The tradition began to be manipulated more closely in one particular aspectthe act of giving. Those starlets told tales of being surprised by their large stones. Movie scenes featured a hero giving his gal a big rock and watching her eyes grow wide with joy. The diamond began to be injected into relationships between men and women as a reproducible acta script for life, not just filmand an inseparable part of courtship and marriange. In 1947, De Beers ad agency came up with the massively successful slogan "A diamond is forever," which implied that diamonds dont crack, break, or lose value. (They do.) The slogan became so entrenched that the only proper way to "dispose" of diamonds was to hand them down to a female descendant.
Other techniques De Beers used are familiar today; they sent representatives to high school home ec classes to teach girls about the value of diamonds and feed them romantic dreams. The diamond went from being a status symbol to an emotional onelove measured in carats.
Ten-year anniversary rings were created and heavily advertised in the 1960s after De Beers was forced to purchase large stocks of Russian diamonds. Most of these diamonds were small, white gems of less than one-quarter carat. As De Beers had been pushing engagement rings with larger (and mostly South African) stones, they had to adjust their campaigns. Hence the eternity ringequally expensive but with smaller stoneswas marketed specifically for anniversaries.
In 1967, De Beers contacted advertising agency J. Walter Thompson to popularize the diamond engagement ring in Brazil, Germany, and Japan. While De Beers found limited success in the former two countries, Japan far exceeded expectations. By 1978, half of all Japanese brides received a diamond engagement ring. By 1981, the number had grown to 60 percent; the "tradition" had taken hold. Just how did the J. Walter Thompson agency accomplish this? A basic but general ad campaign similar to that in the U.S.the diamond ring was pitched not as a product but as a symbol.
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