“A Diamond Is Forever”
While Marilyn Monroe sang in Gentlemen prefer blonds “diamonds are a girl’s best friend”, the diamonds’ true best friend was actually a young copywriter, Mary Frances Gerety. Mary was a talented woman working for De Beers’ publicity agency, N. W. Ayer & Son, in a time when diamonds were a man’s industry. However, in the late forties, she had the marketing idea of her lifetime - and of the century - that revolutionized an industry that had barely survived the Great Depression and made the precious minerals spark throughout eternity. This billion-dollar idea can be summed up with a four-word slogan: “A diamond is forever”.
Why was this minimalistic advertisement so game-changing? Turns out that because of their unique hardness and rarity, diamonds were the perfect illustration of the true, deep, eternal love that we only see in fairy tales. Diamonds became aspirational. As they are the product of the perfect combination of carbon, elevated temperature and pressure, and a billion-year creation process, diamonds were portrayed as Nature’s rarest works of art. If diamonds were art paintings, customers were buying Michelangelos’. And this is exactly what they did. De Beers and its agency featured a selection of masterpieces painted by world-famous artists to accompany the promotion of their eternal diamond rings. The rest was history.
De Beers' strategy had a tremendous response. It suffices to think that after WWII, on average, one marriage out of ten was sealed with a diamond ring. Today, one marriage out of ten is not. This is because “A diamond is forever” spoke to men and women in a new way that no one had before. The idea of gifting an indestructible mineral to show unconditional and invincible love soon seemed so simple and natural that it quickly became the norm. Most importantly, forever was not also referred to the eternal love that diamonds represent. Indeed, in a context of economic revival after the Great Depression, the undestroyable, rare, hardest mineral on Earth, was promoted as a clever investment, as it will forever hold its value.
A few years later, De Beers' message had already changed the society of the time. It was not only engagement rings anymore, as diamonds had completely won over other precious gemstones, becoming what everybody aspired to own and wear. In the 1953 Diamonds are a girl best friends performance, Marilyn Monroe, a true icon of the female sexual liberation, sang :
The message was different. Diamonds were not only the synonym of pure, eternal commitment, but also the symbol of a new era of independent, practical, and even slightly cynical women. After all, love might not last forever, but diamonds always will.
This song marked the history of Music, and it was reenacted countless times by icons such as Madonna, Nicole Kidman in Moulin Rouge, and even Blake Lively in Gossip Girl.
In 1971, Sean Connery made his return as the British MI6 agent with 007 Diamonds are forever. As the movie title eloquently shows, the power of De Beers' diamond campaigns was unparalleled at the time. The movie, inspired by the 1956 novel written by Ian Fleming, made diamonds - that appear in numerous chapters of the James Bond Saga - the essence of this new spy adventure.
In the homonymous movie theme song, Shirley Bassey sings “I don't need love, for what good will love do me? Diamonds never lie to me !” Echoing Marylin Monore’s message, Diamonds Are Forever confirms that we are in a new era of beautiful, clever women such as Tiffany Case - the Bond girl named after the jewelry store where she was prematurely born - that do not necessarily look for eternal love. These girls, quite audacious and modern for the time’s standards, are tempting, smart and determined to achieve their goals, making the perfect partner in crime for James Bond.
More importantly, the movie Diamonds Are Forever illustrates another important step in the diamond industry. Indeed, this was a new way to present diamonds to men. Diamonds are not only engagement rings and timeless gifts, but in this James Bond chapter, they are more than ever a statement of power. Ernst Stavro Blofeld, the rich criminal mastermind that James Bond has to eliminate, is often framed without his face, while he gently caresses his white cat adorned with a diamond collar. The sparkly diamond cat becomes the distinctive mark of James Bond's enemy and of his unlimited resources. Diamonds are at the heart of this adventure, the guiding thread of the movie. James Bond follows the trail of the smuggled diamonds, and wherever he goes, everyone desires them, and everyone who tries to keep them is soon killed.
Paving the way for Iconic Brand Campaigns
De Beers' game-changing marketing campaigns paved the way for brands to promote their own legendary beautiful pieces.
For instance, Cartier employed Marketing to create a timeless symbol to identify and represent the brand, la Panthère.
The origin of the Panthère started in 1914 with George Barbier’s Dame à la Panthère. From this year onward, la panthère, or other felines, became the common thread of the brand. Watches, brooches, cigarette cases, necklaces, bracelets, rings, perfumes: la Panthère slowly became Cartier. A few years ago, la Maison launched L’Odyssée de Cartier, a short movie that portrays the diamond Panther of Cartier which comes to life and embarks on a journey around the world, rediscovering the magical places and iconic products that marked the history of the French brand.
So, why was la Panthère so impactful? As all untameable felines, la panthère embodied femininity in its purest form. "The panther's established connotations were transposed to symbolize women's post-war freedom as they gradually acquired more rights, asserted themselves in the workforce, and shook free of strict social dictates". Pierre Raneiro, Director of Image, Style, and Heritage at the Parisian Maison, describes the feline as the "emblem of that freedom". Refined, wild, feminine, and fearless, the Panthère soon became a symbol of modernity and the quintessential statement of feminism.
La Panthère of Cartier is most and foremost a story of women, starting from Jeanne Toussaint - the forceful creative director of the Cartier fine-jewelry line in the thirties, also known as “La Panthère” - to all the inspiring women that loved and bought the Cartier creations: Maria Félix, the Duchess of Windsor, Daisy Fellowes, Sarah Brightman, and many others.
In the sixties, established brands such as Tiffany & Co. and Bulgari saw the power of the movie industry.
With Breakfast at Tiffany’s, the American high-jewelry brand became the deepest desire of every girl. As a matter of fact, besides promoting its products worn by the sophisticated Audrey Hepburn, Breakfast at Tiffany’s made the brand iconic internationally. To Holly, the refined star of the movie, the Jewelry store on Fifth Avenue represents everything she aspires to. This is why, every morning, Holly eats her Danish while admiring the sparkly display cases from the store’s window. After all, as she explains in the movie "nothing very bad could ever happen to you there”. In Breakfast at Tiffany’s, the jewelry store is surely presented as aspirational and dreamy. However, when Holly and Fred walk in the store looking for a 10$ gift, Tiffany’s employees appear to be so compassionate and kind-hearted that they accept to engrave a small ring - “that came inside, well, a box of Cracker Jack” - just to make them happy to have a little something from Tiffany’s.
Breakfast at Tiffany’s spoke to generations of women, becoming a must-see that has been watched and rewatched since the sixties. The “Moon River” movie made the American brand so desirable to women. Tiffany & Co. Fifth Avenue store is today a holy temple where hundreds of tourists pay a visit and buy a little sparkly souvenir. To most women, receiving - even a small - Tiffany engagement ring is the only way to start a marriage. Audrey Hepburn’s move made Tiffany’s so aspirational that, several years later, in Sweet Home Alabama, a dashing Patrick Dempsey surprised Reese Witherspoon with a memorable proposal that made every little and grown woman dream. Dempsey rented an entire Tiffany & Co. store, and after he asked “Will you marry me” and she enthusiastically said “Yes”, he replied “pick one!”
Bulgari, the Roman Jewelry brand, a symbol of the Dolce Vita, and the beauty of the Eternal City also infiltrated the movie industry, but in a different way.
In 1964, the stunning Elizabeth Taylor was starring, alongside Richard Burton, in Mankiewicz’s movie as the immortal Egyptian queen, Cleopatra. To Bulgari, which had launched the Serpenti collection more than a decade before, Cleopatra was a godsend to turn the Serpenti into its Cartier panther and find his immortal icon.
It was a unique opportunity that Bulgari put to good use. As a matter of fact, “the symbolic snake (that) exudes a sense of seduction and boldness”, and its mythical and biblical allure perfectly married the tempting, fierce queen of Egypt. The Snake - which is "especially significant in ancient Roman culture, representing fertility, rebirth, and protection against the evil spirit” - soon became the symbol of this cinematographic adventure, and Bulgari became Liz Taylor’s best friend. The actress was photographed, adorned with a stunning Bulgari diamond and gold Serpenti bracelet, and even her Egyptian costume included a gold Serpenti armband.
Thanks to the fame of the movie and its stars, the Serpenti rapidly became a universal "symbol of power and seduction", a feminine aphrodisiac, while Bulgari became a sanctuary of elegance, audacity, and savoir-faire.
While Tiffany & Co. chose the refined Audrey Hepburn to epitomize the brand, Elizabeth Taylor became the face of the Italian high-end jewelry brand. The passionate, seductive American actress perfectly embodied the essence of Bulgari: sophisticated eccentricity, sinuous shapes - such as those of the Serpenti or the cabochon cut - and, of course, a triumph of energy, light and color.
These iconic campaigns made Bulgari Liz Tyalor’s best friend as well as the shiny Cupid of her tempestuous romance with Richard Burton. Meanwhile, Liz Taylor was so associated with the Italian brand, that she slowly became Bulgari, embodying its essence, even when she was adorned with jewelry created by another maison. To illustrate how Elizabeth Taylor is part of the history and glory of the brand, after the actress’s death in 2011, the Italian Maison almost entirely purchased at the auction her millions worth of Bulgari jewelry collection and researched archive pictures of the actress for the Bulgari Museum in Via dei Condotti in Rome.
Three billion years in the making
In a similar way to when De Beers launched A Diamond is Forever in the forties, the industry is now promoting the superiority of natural diamonds over lab-grown diamonds through iconic marketing campaigns. Man-made diamonds are scientifically equivalent to mined diamonds and - as their name suggests - they are forged in a laboratory where the natural process of the diamond’s creation is artificially recreated. However, if natural diamonds take billions of years to take their shape and are one-of-a-kind, artificial diamonds are created in just a few days and are mass-produced.
To highlight this meaningful difference, Only Natural Diamonds chose Ana de Armas to star in their campaign For Moments Like No Other. The campaign is an ode to life : Ana de Armas laughs, dances and falls in love, wearing exquisite natural diamond creations. Like De Beers did by launching Lightbox - a line of artificial diamond jewelry but not a single ring - with this campaign, Only Natural Diamonds claims the importance of choosing mined diamonds for once-in-a-lifetime moments.
The Diamond Producers Association also came up with a beautiful campaign to promote natural diamonds, Real is Rare. In particular, one of the advertisements portrayed a dreaming landscape that gradually fades away while blending into two intertwined hands - one of them is wearing a refined natural engagement ring. Above the ring we can read an evocative slogan “THREE BILLION YEARS in the MAKING”.
This advertisement leads the customers back to De Beers’ 1947 advertisement, by illustrating in a new way that diamonds are Nature’s works of art. This poetic campaign managed to touch the heart of the public, by illustrating how our beautiful planet gently crafted, in billions of years, the precious minerals with nothing but love and patience. After all, diamonds are all about love. From Nature’s love, to artisans' love, to couples’ love. It is as simple as that.
From De Beers A Diamond is Forever that promoted diamonds universally and established the unwritten law of gifting a diamond engagement ring, brand campaigns have made the precious minerals aspirational and iconic. Several world-known brands such as Tiffany & Co, and Bulgari, infiltrated the movie industry and chose the perfect icon to embody and represent the ethos of the brand, whereas Cartier, focused on building a timeless symbol to inspire its creations, epitomize its essence and create a guiding thread. Ultimately, beautiful campaigns helped natural diamond producers to celebrate the marvelous and poetic creation process of diamonds at the heart of the Earth. In this way, natural diamond associations and brands highlighted that unique, memorable moments are meant to be crowned by rare, one-of-a-kind precious minerals, a product of love crafted in billions of years to celebrate unforgettable moments.
These inspiring campaigns led diamonds to slowly become a symbol of love, as well as of taste and wealth, more than any other precious gemstone. From iconic movies, songs, to today’s influencer advertisements, campaigns have made diamonds aspirational, while helping brands to highlight their values. Over the last few years, sustainability and ethical sourcing has become a central theme for jewelry brands. For instance, Tiffany & Co. launched an interesting project to illustrate “the Journey of a Tiffany Diamond” from the original mine to the little blue gift box. This extremely well-received sustainable project of the American brand has contributed to promote the importance of a transparent supply chain, inspiring other brands to improve and focus, in the upcoming future, their efforts and their campaigns on the issues of traceability and ethical sourcing.
A Journey of Self Expression
While most iconic diamond jewelry brands inspire a precise representation of woman - sophisticated and classy like Tiffany, bold and seductive such as Bulgari's Serpenti - 64Facets has always been a journey of self-expression. Women do not wear 64Facets to be a certain type of woman, they wear 64Facets to be unapologetically themselves. Our inspirations are all the multifaceted, empowered women that surround us, the ones that evolve, that balance love life and career, family and social events. Our inspiration is you. 64Facets mission is far from defining women. Instead, we wish to celebrate, with our precious, versatile pieces, every facet of their beautiful unique self. Discover the talented, empowering, and inspiring icons that choose and embody 64Facets on our Celebrity Favorites and Multifaceted Women sections and admire their favorite diamond pieces and looks.To us, sustainability and creativity are at the heart of modern jewelry. Since its birth in 2016, 64Facets has always attached great importance to ethical sourcing, traceability, and a short supply-chain. Discover 64Facets efforts to guarantee ethical and beautiful diamond pieces, by learning about our sustainable creation process, from raw diamonds to exquisite jewelry creations.