I am fascinated by diamonds. Not the stones themselves, but the concept. How in the past 100 years they became completely intertwined with engagements and the symbol for eternal love. Not to mention that their value is entirely dependent on their falsely perceived scarcity.
In what is perhaps one of the best marketing campaigns in recent history by N.W. Ayer, diamonds went from a little thought of luxury to an integral part of U.S. engagements. What’s even more incredible is how they are now thought to have always been a part of that tradition. Men are even told they have to spend a certain multiple of their monthly salary on an engagement ring before they even consider proposing. While the popularity of diamond engagement rings is starting to decline, they are still seen as integral part of romance.
Now there is even a movement to increase the value of colored diamonds that were previously only good for industrial purposes. Just call a brown diamond “chocolate” or “champagne” and suddenly it’s moved from the industrial pile to be set in rings and necklaces.
Below are some of my favorite books/articles about diamonds if you are interested in learning more about the creation of the scarcity myth and the incredible marketing campaign behind the stones.
Have You Ever Tried to Sell a Diamond? by Edward Jay Epstein
- This was the first article I read about diamonds and started my obsession with the stone.
The Last Empire: de Beers, Diamonds, and the World by Stefan Kanfer
- While this can be a bit dry and academic at times, it’s a great thorough history of the creation of De Beers
- A look at diamonds across the globe, including mines in Africa and Canada, polishing in India, and consumption in Japan and the U.S.
- An important work on the role of diamond smuggling in the bloody conflicts in Sierra Leone
The Engagements by J. Courtney Sullivan
- A novel that looks at the role of diamonds in for interconnected relationships and the story of Frances Gerety, the creator of the iconic slogan “A Diamond is Forever”