Diamonds are one of the most common gemstones used in the creation of jewelry, but when and why did they become so popular?
Diamonds were relatively popular among the world’s elite up until the end of the 19th century when they became much less rare. However, a resurgence started in 1947 following an effective advertising campaign by the world’s leading diamond company that restored diamonds to their former glory.
Read on to learn more about diamonds, their history, and their place in the world today.
Diamonds Are Forever
It’s a slogan that many people know of, but are unaware of where it originated. The term ‘diamonds are forever’ was one of the driving forces behind a resurgence of diamond popularity in the mid-20th century.
Once upon a time, diamonds were thought to only exist in India, having been discovered there during the 4th century BC. It took a while – several hundred years, in fact – for diamonds to leave the country, but when they did, they effectively took the world by storm.
When the 13th-century arrived, diamonds found their way to Europe and were soon given pride of price in the jewelry industry. The techniques behind mining and cutting diamonds improved over time, and by the 16th-century diamonds were finer and of a larger size.
The sparkling gemstone reached a peak of popularity throughout the 19th-century, but it’s here that the legacy starts to collapse a little. In the 1870s, huge and expansive deposits of diamond were discovered in South Africa.
What was once thought to be an intensely exclusive gemstone was now made much more common and readily available. As a result, the elite began abandoning the crystal-clear jewel, opting instead to pick the much rarer colored gems: sapphire, ruby, and emerald.
It wouldn’t be until the mid-20th-century that the diamond experienced a resurgence in popularity. This campaign was driven primarily by De Beers, arguably the most prominent diamond mining company on the planet.
De Beers was the Dutch force behind many of the most productive mines in South Africa, producing a huge amount of diamonds every year. They recognized the need for a popularity drive and set their minds on marketing campaigns.
Undoubtedly the most successful campaign was launched in 1947, pioneered by the ‘A Diamond is Forever’ slogan. This advertising slogan was overwhelmingly successful, supported by the world’s elite and Hollywood alike.
They also invented the ‘eternity ring’ concept, a type of ring that is popular even today. However, it was their 1947 campaign that would create mass hysteria surrounding diamonds once again.
Modern Day Diamonds
When diamonds were thought to only come from India, there were around one hundred thousand carats produced every year. Today, it’s estimated there are more than one-hundred million carats produced a year.
It’s not just the amount of diamonds mined that increased exponentially over time, but the locations in which they were found. Today, diamonds are mined extensively throughout Russia, Australia, Botswana, and of course, South Africa.
The rising popularity through the mid-20th-century proved to be a resistant trend, and the cost and desire to own diamonds today are still strong. They’re the most common stone used in jewelry production – particularly engagement rings.
Of course, it was engagement rings that served as the centric force of De Beers’ “Diamonds are Forever” advertising spree. From then on, it became an unwritten rule that all engagement rings should feature diamonds.
Today, diamonds also make up some of the most valuable gemstones and jewels on the planet. There are examples of huge diamonds with beautiful cuts that fetch staggeringly-high prices at auction.
One of the best examples is the Pink Star, a super-high quality pink diamond weighing a massive fifty-nine-carats. It was mined in a De Beers mine in South Africa and sold at auction in 2017 for an incredible seventy-one million dollars.
However, that diamond barely cracks the top five where value is concerned. There’s also The Cullinan, a jewel that was five-hundred and thirty carats when it was discovered, and given a value of more than four-hundred million dollars.
Pound-for-pound, there are few things on earth more valuable than diamonds. They’re versatile, multi-faceted, and used in many industries.
You can find diamonds used as abrasives for industrial purposes: saw blades, drills, and grinding equipment. It seems bizarre, but the shimmering diamond on an engagement ring is also one of the best materials for cutting and drilling extremely resistant surfaces.
Just don’t use something like the Pink Star or The Cullinan in that respect.