Wholesale diamond companies like the Skydell Design Corp. owe the huge efforts of a 1938 marketing campaign for the lasting good climate to sell diamonds. A group of diamond mine investor entities from Great Britain and South Africa joined together to form the De Beers Consolidated Mines, Ltd. This would allow them to control production of diamonds so that they would not become overabundant and therefore less valuable on the market.
Even with the formation of this company, there was still a diamond image to sell to the public. Something had to make people believe that a diamond was an important lifetime treasure, and in September 1938, Harry Oppenheimer, son of one of the De Beers founders started a campaign to win people over. At the time, the average diamond ring purchased for an engagement was about $80, but it was a much poorer quality diamond than those manufactured by De Beers. Oppenheimer hired an advertising agency from New York to help convince the American public to purchase higher quality, more expensive gems.
Oppenheimer wasted no time changing public perception. Through advertising and the use of visible celebrity diamond rings, he won over popular American opinion by presenting images of young men proposing to young women with huge diamonds. The bigger the diamond, the more romantic the gesture. The implied message to most people was that a man who really loved a woman did not hesitate to buy her a high quality, large diamond ring. Queen Elizabeth even helped to build this reputation in England by visiting South African diamond mines and accepting a diamond ring directly from Oppenheimer.
Much later in his campaign, Oppenheimer even scheduled lectures across the country for high school girls, emphasizing the importance of the diamond ring for engagements. It became the universal American symbol for love, engagement and long-lasting marriages, and every young woman who wanted any of these outcomes for her love life had to have one. Soon international ad agencies began the same push in other countries like Japan and Germany, until it became the unshakable symbol for romance all around the world.
This story of how to successfully change public perception is an inspiring one to anyone who needs to make a product popular. It is essential history to anyone who wants to go into the diamond business. Knowing about the time in which a diamond had to compete for public attention helps anyone to know why diamonds are forever.
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