Living inside consumer culture and being permeated by it gives expression to an array of values and assumptions of dubious and unknown origins, even obscure that can be totally interpreted as artificial creations although it may appear to be “natural” ; consumerism defines and shapes culture in specific ways that often mask the absence of origins or appropriate and transform existing rituals.
( see link at end ) …For example, everyone in this culture knows a “diamond is forever.” It is a meaning that is almost as “natural” as the link between roses and romantic love. However, diamonds (just like roses) did not always have this meaning. Before 1938 their value derived primarily from their worth as scarce stones (with the DeBeers cartel carefully controlling the market supply). In 1938 the New York advertising agency of N.W. Ayers was hired to change public attitudes toward diamonds to transform them from a financial investment into a symbol of committed and everlasting love. In 1947 an Ayers advertising copywriter came up with the slogan “a diamond is forever” and the rest, as they say, is history. As an N.W. Ayers memorandum put it in 1959: “Since 1939 an entirely new generation of young people has grown to marriageable age. To the new generation, a diamond ring is considered a necessity for engagement to virtually everyone.”
This is a fairly dramatic example of how the institutional structure of the consumer society orients the culture (and its attitudes, values, and rituals) more and more toward the world of commodities. The marketplace (and its major ideological tool, advertising) is the major structuring institution of contemporary consumer society. Read More:http://www.units.muohio.edu/technologyandhumanities/SutJhally.pdf
De Beers was also tapping into that fertile notion Americans have about innocence, and the advertising played on this manufacturing of innocence; though innocence is something we construct in our mind, like fables and legends we tell about ourselves and not something we necessarily are; the diamond becomes the object of innocence.It substitutes, as object, an erroneous conviction of personal purity for a complex engagement with the self and the relationship with the other as it really is. Diamond as the act of consumption before the fantasy becomes overwhelming and the shopping for the diamond is a trip for fantasies. For many, the marriage fantasy is truly a fantasy; for others as De Beers research likely indicated, fantasy is a reflexive fake, and the diamond is central in that artificial re-creation and reaching for the fantasy.
Henry, son of Ernest, traveled to New York in 1938 to meet
advertising agency N. W. Ayer. The United States was seen as the next big market for diamonds, and a very effective game plan was formed to sell diamonds to Americans: convince them that diamonds equated love.
Through advertising, men were convinced that the size of the diamond in an engagement ring showed how much they loved their fiancée:
In its 1947 strategy plan, the advertising agency strongly emphasized a psychological approach. “We are dealing with a problem in mass psychology. We seek to … strengthen the tradition of the diamond engagement ring — to make it a psychological necessity capable of competing successfully at the retail level with utility goods and services….” It defined as its target audience “some 70 million people 15 years and over whose opinion we hope to influence in support of our objectives.” N. W. Ayer outlined a subtle program that included arranging for lecturers to visit high schools across the country. “All of these lectures revolve around the diamond engagement ring, and are reaching thousands of girls in their assemblies, classes and informal meetings in our leading educational institutions,” the agency explained in a memorandum to De Beers. The agency had organized, in 1946, a weekly service called “Hollywood Personalities,” which provided 125 leading newspapers with descriptions of the diamonds worn by movie stars. And it continued its efforts to encourage news coverage of celebrities displaying diamond rings as symbols of romantic involvement. In 1947, the agency commissioned a series of portraits of “engaged socialites.” The idea was to create prestigious “role models” for the poorer middle-class wage-earners. The advertising agency explained, in its 1948 strategy paper, “We spread the word of diamonds worn by stars of screen and stage, by wives and daughters of political leaders, by any woman who can make the grocer’s wife and the mechanic’s sweetheart say ‘I wish I had what she has.’”
De Beers needed a slogan for diamonds that expressed both the theme of romance and legitimacy. An N. W. Ayer copywriter came up with the caption “A Diamond Is Forever,” which was scrawled on the bottom of a picture of two young lovers on a honeymoon. Even though diamonds can in fact be shattered, chipped, discolored, or incinerated to ash, the concept of eternity perfectly captured the magical qualities that the advertising agency wanted to attribute to diamonds. Within a year, “A Diamond Is Forever” became the official motto of De Beers.Read More:http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/1982/02/have-you-ever-tried-to-sell-a-diamond/4575/2/