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  • The Merge

The Greatest Marketing Scam Of All Time: Diamonds!

Updated: Apr 14

Diamonds may not be your best friends after all! Find out why


The Greatest Marketing Scam Of All Time: Diamonds

What if we tell you that Diamond, a symbol known to represent love, luxury and beauty, is actually a scam? Diamonds are undoubtedly beautiful but they are NOT unbreakable, forever lasting or incredibly rare. They are just a rock!

A rock that is the protagonist of the world's biggest marketing scam.


A marketing campaign SO big that it convinced millions of people across the globe to spend thousands and thousands of dollars on this rock that actually was of no value! Insane, right? This marketing campaign was so successful that it managed to change traditions across different cultures and transformed this rock into a deep emotion of Love.


However, your most adored gift and that valuable rock on your finger, is just a story of lie, manipulative marketing and human gullibility.


Before we dive deep into how this incredible scam was pulled, let's get some basic facts about diamonds straightened out.


1. Diamonds are believed to be rare, when in reality they are abundant.

Contrary to popular belief, diamonds are in abundance. There are mines around the world absolutely filled with diamonds.


Diamonds were once considered to be rare when the only known diamond mines were in India and Brazil. But in 1870, British businessmen discovered massive diamond mines near South Africa's Orange River. Since then, diamonds have not been rare. These British financiers now had monopoly over the diamond supply in the world! They soon realised that the value of diamonds depended on their scarcity. So they formed one giant company: De Beers Consolidated Mines, and took control over the entire diamond industry. Their goal? Control both the supply and demand of diamonds.


By withholding most of the diamonds and only releasing a careful stream of them into the rest of the world, Debeers has been able to artificially inflate the price of diamonds. Genius?




2. Diamonds are believed to last forever, when in reality you can destroy them.

Contrary to popular belief, diamonds do break or chip off!

Diamonds may be the hardest naturally occurring substance on earth but they can still be smashed with a simple hammer.


You may have heard the phrase "diamonds are forever" but are they really? Diamonds actually deteriorate and turn into graphite over time. In fact, the phrase "diamonds are forever" was actually a part of their great marketing scam.



In 1888, the major investors in the South African diamond mines merged their resources together forming De Beers Consolidated Mines Limited and ruled the diamond industry all around the globe with different aliases. But in 1938, when America was going through the Great Depression, the value of diamonds was declining. It was a luxurious item which no one could afford to buy during that period resulting in the ultimate decline of diamond's value. The demand just wasn’t enough to meet the supply.


So Debeers Consolidated Mines now had to find a way to increase the demand for diamonds. And that is when the most successful marketing campaign of all time was born.


So how did they actually execute the plan?

De Beers collaborated with a major American advertising agency, N.W. Ayers, to reinvent the public perception of diamonds. They were give one task: to increase the demand for diamonds.

They marketed diamonds as a symbol of romance. They pushed the idea that diamonds were a gift of love and that the larger and finer the diamond, the greater the expression of love.


And a massive marketing campaign set in motion!


They didn't advertise any name or brand. Their one and only goal was to create an association in the mind of the public between diamonds and romance.


They pushed this marketing campaign via all medium like from radio, newspapers and magazines but their biggest target was Hollywood. Motion picture industry had newly emerged and they took full advantage of it.


Ayers opened a Hollywood office and gave out diamonds to producers. And in return the producers would showcase the diamonds in a favourable way during the movie.

This is how the idea of a man surprising his woman with a diamond, symbolising love was born. This was some of the first product placement ever seen on television.


All celebrities wanted to wear these diamonds and many of them were rarely ever seen in public without their Debeers diamonds. These celebrity endorsements reinforced their campaign.


Ayers also managed to get Queen Elizabeth II to wear only diamonds which indirectly turned the royal family into sales agents. In American minds, the British royal family was the ultimate ideal of how to behave in the upper class. Diamonds came from British colonies, so the royal family was perfectly happy to work with Ayers.


Were they successful? You bet they were.

They managed to increase the sales by 55% in the United States by 1941.


But by now a lot of people got their hands on this precious valuable stone. De Beers feared that if people began to sell second-hand diamonds back into the marketplace, prices would start to fall. And this is how the popular phrase "diamonds are forever" was born. It was another stroke of genius by N.W. Ayers. In 1948, they came up with this phrase to instill into the public the idea that you should never sell a diamond.


In 1970s Ayers did some extensive marketing research and concluded that though women didn’t like to ask for diamonds, but they were still happy when they received them.

So from the 1970’s onwards, Ayers created advertising that specifically emphasised the element of surprise in presenting a girl with a diamond ring.


And another stroke of genius was born.


De Beers invented a rule that a man should spend 2 months salary on an engagement ring.


This rule has nothing to do with the tradition of marriage. It was completely invented by Ayers as part of their marketing campaign. They didn't give any specific amount of money that one should spend, but instead to go with 2 months salary. The genius of this suggestion is that it can be applied to anyone.


What’s 2 months salary when it can buy something that will last a lifetime? Because don’t forget, A Diamond Is Forever.


The fact that diamonds aren’t actually rare has been a closely guarded secret in the industry for over 100 years. And even now, the diamond industry is still trying to perpetuate this lie.


Needless to say there are some brilliant marketing campaigns that come and go every now and then but De Beers marketing campaign for diamonds is without a doubt The Greatest Marketing Scam Of All Time.

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