(arquivo Fernando Correia de Oliveira)
We like diamonds because Gerold M. Lauck told us to. Until the mid 20th century, diamond engagement rings were a small and dying industry in America. Nor had the concept really taken hold in Europe. Moreover, with Europe on the verge of war, it didn’t seem like a promising place to invest.
Not surprisingly, the American market for diamond engagement rings began to shrink during the Great Depression. Sales volume declined and the buyers that remained purchased increasingly smaller stones. But the US market for engagement rings was still 75% of De Beers’ sales. If De Beers was going to grow, it had to reverse the trend.
And so, in 1938, De Beers turned to Madison Avenue for help. They hired Gerold Lauck and the N. W. Ayer advertising agency, who commissioned a study with some astute observations. Men were the key to the market:
Since “young men buy over 90% of all engagement rings” it would be crucial to inculcate in them the idea that diamonds were a gift of love: the larger and finer the diamond, the greater the expression of love. Similarly, young women had to be encouraged to view diamonds as an integral part of any romantic courtship.
However, there was a dilemma. Many smart and prosperous women didn’t want diamond engagement rings. They wanted to be different.
The millions of brides and brides-to-be are subjected to at least two important pressures that work against the diamond engagement ring. Among the more prosperous, there is the sophisticated urge to be different as a means of being smart…. the lower-income groups would like to show more for the money than they can find in the diamond they can afford…
Lauck needed to sell a product that people either did not want or could not afford. His solution would haunt men for generations. He advised that De Beers market diamonds as a status symbol:
”The substantial diamond gift can be made a more widely sought symbol of personal and family success — an expression of socio-economic achievement.” …
"Promote the diamond as one material object which can reflect, in a very personal way, a man’s … success in life."
Although diamonds aren’t nearly are rare as the majority of people believe, they are without question the hardest of all gemstones. Diamonds are forever because of their unique qualities. Yet how did they become the symbol of wealth, power, love and devotion? The answer lies in the first meeting between Harry Oppenheimer (son of the founder of De Beers Consolidated Mines, Ltd.) and N.W. Ayer & Son, a prominent U.S. advertising agency. After their first meeting in 1938, N.W. Ayer began his extensive research and found that the most critical ways to influence the purchase of diamonds was to first create emotional and romantic feelings tied to diamonds. The brilliant marketing, advertising and public relations campaigns further enhanced the notion that diamonds would be forever associated with love, strength, luxury and emotion. Ayer used jewelers, lecturers, celebrities, magazines, entertainment and even had movie scripts and scenes changed to show the stars wearing, shopping and yearning for diamonds. All in all, the end goal was to create an eternal desire for diamonds.
In three short years, the trend of declining diamond sales had been reversed and diamond sales were up over 50%. With Ayer’s incredible achievements for De Beers, he was on a roll. Yet even with this success, the world’s most famous slogan had yet to be developed.
How the World’s Most Famous Slogan Was Created (Diamonds are Forever)
After unsuccessfully trying to create a slogan for De Beers which would perfectly express of the qualities of a diamond mingled with romance, there was finally a stroke of genius in 1947. One of Ayer’s young copyrighters, Frances Gerety, was working late one night to the point of exhaustion. Finally in desperation, she put her head down on the table and pleaded for help. Just before she left work that night she scribbled the words “a diamond is forever” on a piece of paper and the rest is history. This may have had a simple start, but the result was America’s most famous advertising slogan and today over 90% of American’s recognize it.
Why a Diamonds are Forever (Literally)
Frances Gerety, creator of this famous slogan may or may not have known about chemistry. In fact, most people have asked themselves why diamonds are forever–only knowing that they are the hardest substance known to man. But many of us don’t know exactly why they are forever. The answer lies in the unique chemical structure of a diamond. Everything on the earth is made up of atoms and hardness depends on how closely the atoms are held together. Diamonds have incredibly strong bonds because they are made up of carbon. Being the smallest of the atoms that can be bonded, carbon fits in more tightly together with other atoms, making a hard and compressed substance. And best of all, once these atoms have been compressed at high enough temperatures to make a diamond, they are literally stuck there forever. Therefore, the phrase “diamonds are forever” is more than just a catchy marketing slogan. It’s because diamonds quite literally are, forever.
The Diamond Authority