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Diamond's Key Players: The U.S. Elevates the Diamond to New Heights

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By : Ann Knapp    99 or more times read
Submitted 0000-00-00 00:00:00
The diamond's long journey as a commodity to be enjoyed and possessed by the average consumer begins many centuries ago in places like India, Venice and Antwerp. Its esteemed value has been protected and nurtured by families in Europe, Africa and India for hundreds of years - long before North America came into the diamond scene. Still, in modern history the U.S. has played an important role in elevating the diamond to new heights; making it more accessible and beloved for generations to come.

King of Diamonds
Charles Lewis Tiffany, known as the "King of Diamonds," co-founded Tiffany and Co. in 1837. Originally, the store was advertised as a "fancy goods emporium, specializing in one-of-a-kind baubles for New York's newly-minted industrialists and robber-barons." Considered a jewelry expert, Tiffany acquired gems and jewelry from European aristocracy to be resold to America's elite. The political undermining of Europe's nobility and France's economic collapse in 1847 significantly lowered the values of ostentatious jewelry and gems, and Tiffany was quick to seize on the opportunity. He made substantial purchases from European nobility, including the Spanish Crown Jewels. Tiffany's acquisition and sale of a portion of the French Crown Jewels in 1887 firmly established the company's reputation.

Perhaps one of his most notable achievements was the purchase of a 287.42-carat rough flawless-yellow diamond in 1877. From this was cut the 128.54 carat "Tiffany Diamond." Beneath his leadership at Tiffany & Co. was the introduction of the six-prong Tiffany Setting engagement ring.

Tiffany & Co. became a part of the American popular mindset with the 1961 movie, "Breakfast at Tiffany's" starring Audrey Hepburn. A famous scene in the movie features Hepburn as the movie's heroine, gazing longingly into the Tiffany's window display. Today, a piece of jewelry, and in particular a diamond, wrapped in Tiffany's trademarked "blue box" is a gift any woman would long to receive from a significant other.

"A Diamond is Forever"
In the 1930s, the economy was facing unprecedented fallout. The Great Depression took its toll on everyone and everything, and particularly on luxury goods. The diamond industry, especially hard hit, sought to reverse the downward tide. America's first advertising agency, owned by N.W. Ayer, joined forces with De Beers president Harry Oppenheimer to launch a well-funded advertising campaign.

Impending war in Europe forced Oppenheimer to expand his market into the U.S. To channel America's spending toward more expensive diamonds, Ayer developed a series of diamond-related slogans meant to associate a diamond with love and romance. In 1948, the famous "A diamond is forever" was introduced and became the official slogan of De Beers. The slogan became the most resilient in advertising history and was voted in 1999 by the prestigious "Advertising Age" magazine as the most recognized and effective slogan of the 20th century.

Ayers was also successful in influencing Hollywood to modify film scripts to depict diamonds more prominently. The marketing agency arranged for movie stars to appear in public adorned with diamonds. The marketing company's nearly 30-year marketing campaign for De Beers successfully influenced American consumers to regard the diamond engagement ring as a necessity to the marriage ritual.

Following closely on Ayers' hugely successful advertising campaign, Hollywood introduced its new production, "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes," providing yet another shot in the arm for the diamond industry. Playwright Jule Styne collaborated with lyricist Sammy Cahn to produce the score for the Broadway musical, which was adapted to film by Hollywood in 1953. The box office blockbuster featured Marilyn Monroe singing "Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend" after receiving a diamond tiara from her suitor. Monroe's sultry and sensuous performance secured the appeal of diamonds for women.

The 20th century brought about many changes for the diamond. For most U.S. consumers, the glittering gem represented a luxury commodity that was out of reach to the common household. But by the end of the century, successful advertising campaigns, education, and pop culture created a new allure and elevated diamonds to new heights.
Author Resource:- Lewis Jewelers is proud to carry the full line of Pandora Jewelry. Pandora charms, Pandora bracelets and Pandora beads are only a part of the collection. For more information, Lewis Jewelers, 2000 West Stadium Blvd., Ann Arbor, Michigan, 48103, 877-88-LEWIS or visit the website.
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