If I asked you to visualise an engagement ring, what does it look like? I’m going to take a guess that it features a beautiful sparkling diamond?Am I right?… this visual is one that has been drilled into us and our parents and perhaps even their parents, through intensive marketing campaigns from jewellery companies throughout the second half of the 1900’s. They have convinced us that diamonds are linked with love, surprisingly however, diamonds have only been a popular engagement ring choice for the past 80 years. Before that only 10% of engagement rings featured diamonds and it was rubies and sapphires that stole the hearts of the young men looking to elope!
This huge increase in diamond popularity stemmed from the discovery of large diamond deposits found in South Africa in the late 1800’s. The once precious gemstone, previously only worn by royalty or the very rich was suddenly affordable to more people and in turn lost its rarity.
In this Diamond rush, The De Beers Diamond Corporation bought as many diamond mines as they could get their hands on, at peak owning 90% of the world’s entire diamond production. This meant they were able to manipulate supply and sell the diamonds for prices higher than they were actually worth by simply restricting how many were available to buy.
In order to encourage young men to buy these now overpriced gems, they hired the ad agency N W Ayer to come up with an enticing marketing campaign. Their response was the now renowned slogan ‘diamonds are forever’. By drawing on the fact that diamonds are the hardest gemstone on earth, they made the connection between eternal, long lasting love and hard-wearing, long lasting diamonds. It became one of the most successful ad campaigns in the world to date.
Their adverts proclaimed that the only way to show a woman you wanted to marry her was to buy her a diamond ring- and of course …the bigger the better! They gave celebrities such a Marilyn Monroe and Elizabeth Taylor huge diamonds to wear so young women would swoon over them. Soon men had successfully been convinced that the size and value of a diamond was directly proportional the their love (and also professional success).
This ‘belief’ is still around 80 years on and most people who buy an engagement ring don’t seem to think twice about whether it should have a diamond in it or not – it seems inevitable that it will.
Most jewellery companies have a separate section of ‘engagement rings’, the only difference between these and the rest of the jewellery they sell is that this section contains pretty much only diamonds rings… so it’s no wonder it’s still seen as the inevitable choice!
Yet when diamonds are actually the most common out of all the gemstones around, why is it that people love them so?
My challenge to anyone thinking about proposing is to at least consider other gemstones and compare their qualities to make an informed decision based upon what you and your loved one stand for. Don’t let your choice be tainted by decades of marketing campaigns…pick a ring that symbolises your relationship.
Here are some alternative gemstones that are as hard-wearing and as sparkly as diamonds that are actually very rare and have price tags that genuinely reflect their worth.