Ever wondered why diamonds are the go-to stone for engagement rings? Why is it always down to what kind of diamond can be afforded and not so much whether it should be a diamond or not?
As we know, the Romans swapped simple betrothal rings of iron. In later periods they switched over to gold. This then picked up a lot more in the 12th century when the church pushed the engagement period and the ring agenda.
In the late 19th century, some American women received thimbles as engagement rings that they would then cut and wear as rings.
But what happened between then and now – more particularly in the 20th century, for diamonds to get into the scene?
Why it is so ingrained in our minds to pop the question with a rock for her finger?
What is it about diamonds and the history surrounding them that makes them the textbook answer to the age-old engagement ring question?
Well the folks at Mental Floss were gracious enough tackle this question.
We may think of the diamond engagement ring as a time-honored tradition, honestly- it’s really just the interesting result of a brilliant marketing plan De Beers rolled out in the late 1930s.
In 1938, De Beers’ execs were in a bit of a tight spot. Diamond demand and prices had been on a slow decline since 1919, and the tanking economy had led consumers to favor more modest rings that included intricate metalwork rather than gems. The cartel needed to tap into a new market to jumpstart its revenues. De Beers approached New York ad agency N.W. Ayer for help convincing Americans that they desperately needed diamonds.
The agency’s campaign was undoubtedly one of the most effective of all time. N.W. Ayer embarked on a multi-pronged attack that completely overhauled Americans’ view of diamonds. The agency got Hollywood’s biggest stars to wear diamonds and encouraged leading fashion designers to talk up diamond rings as an emerging trend. The plan worked beautifully; in the first three years of the campaign American diamond sales shot up by over 50 percent. Read more…
Even with such great results, the De Beers-N.W. Ayer partnership was yet to drop another magic spell. In 1947, Ayer copywriter Frances Gerety penned the slogan “A Diamond is Forever.” A line so catchy and effective that De Beers is still using it almost 70 years later.
The slogan helped sell the diamond as an enduring, unbreakable symbol of love, and the sales of diamond engagement rings shot through the roof. Within 20 years, 80 percent of American brides were proudly showing off their rocks. The rest is clearly history.
As the demand for rings has shot up, the stakes have increased. In 2010, online diamond retailer Blue Nile rolled out a ring-buying app, and moved a $250,000 ring to an iPad user.
So how’s that for diamond ring history 101?