Although diamond is our most popular gemstone, this hasn’t always been the case. Only in the last century did diamonds become readily available. Prior to that, ruby and sapphire were the most popular gems, especially for engagement rings.
Diamonds and the De Beers Corporation
Diamonds ascended in the public imagination primarily due to the De Beers corporation. They set up the first large-scale diamond mines in South Africa. Then, they began one of the most successful advertising campaigns in history, convincing consumers that engagement rings should always have a diamond.
Diamond Advertising Campaigns
With proper encouragement, the movie industry displayed its most glamorous actresses, draped in diamonds. As a result, diamonds soon became a top status symbol for the rich and famous. This peaked perhaps with Marilyn Monroe’s performance of the song, Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friend, in the 1953 film, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.
Even after winning the admiration of consumers, De Beers continued their advertising. With the discovery of diamonds in the (now former) Soviet Union, they created a new campaign to sell anniversary bands. These made good use of the small but nice-quality diamonds this find produced.
Cornering the Market
De Beers did…