Ever wondered why diamonds are the go-to stone for anyone buying an engagement ring? 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?
More On Diamonds In Engagement Rings
We have all heard the saying, “diamonds are a girl’s best friend,” this most likely came about because once upon a time it was considered such a virtue for women to get married. That ideology is still lingering in the air of modern societies, but the stench is not so strong. Today, more and more women are choosing to stay single and refrain from having children. Nevertheless, the idea of the fairy-tale wedding still exists, and many women are just as passionate about having that diamond ring on their finger as ever. Despite the love for diamonds, not many people are aware of why they are used for engagement rings. Here are some answers.
In the Beginning
Despite all the glitz and glamour surrounding diamond rings today, they haven’t always been such a positive symbol. When engagement rings were first established, they were used as a symbol of ownership. Husbands gave their wives gold rings, but they were to wear a metal ring at home as this was a sign that their husbands owned them.
When diamonds were discovered in South Africa, the diamond company DeBeers marketed them as the engagement stone that every woman needed, and they came up with the slogan “diamonds are forever.” There was a major slump during The Great Depression, but this soon changed once the economy was revived. DeBeers began a second aggressive marketing campaign for diamonds and despite the fact that diamonds are indeed breakable, they used psychological triggers to instill into the minds of the viewers that diamonds were a symbol of eternity and perfection.
The company encouraged socialites and celebrities to wear diamonds and before long, the diamond had become a symbol of wealth and success for people to aspire to.
Modern Day Engagement Rings
The majority of cultures hold diamond engagement rings to high esteem. But the traditions of the past are no longer in effect, and instead of a symbol of ownership, diamond engagement rings are a sign of commitment and partnership. But now there are a wide range of colors to choose from and white is no longer the standard color for a diamond ring.
Most recently, Kate Middleton’s engagement ring became famous and all newspapers are magazines were clamoring to capture it. No one knows how much it cost, but it is a large sapphire encased in small white diamonds.
Despite the fact that there is still a love for diamond rings, another reason why they are not as popular as in previous years is that people can’t afford them. Younger people make less money and have accumulated less assets than previous generations. Diamonds are more popular amongst the emerging middle classes in India and China.
Also, after the film ‘Blood Diamonds,’ they don’t have the best reputations. It is a film highlighting the suffering endured by Africans at the hands of Europeans to extract diamonds from African soil.
Final Thought As you have read in this article, there is a history lesson to be learnt in the most obscure areas of life, even diamond engagement rings.