Single ladies everywhere have grown up dreaming of the day when someone would like it enough to put a ring on it. But have you ever wondered just how and why the tradition of giving a diamond engagement ring started? You may be surprised when you learn the untold truth of your engagement ring. Not so ancient tradition You probably think of diamond engagement rings as timeless, but while diamonds have appeared in jewelry for centuries, the tradition of diamond engagement rings is far newer. Before the 19th century, diamonds were reserved for royalty and only worn at night.
It was actually considered vulgar to wear a diamond during the day. It wasn’t until the 1920s and ’30s that the idea of a diamond engagement ring became popular. Consumer engagement So how and why did diamond engagement rings become a thing? Through the magic of marketing, of course. In the 1940s, Philadelphia ad agency N.W. Ayer was tasked by the De Beers diamond company with boosting diamond sales, which had been on the decline during the Great Depression. The challenge fell largely on Frances Gerety, the only female copywriter at the firm, who was ordered to “create a situation where almost every person pledging marriage feels compelled to acquire a diamond engagement ring.” Her solution? The famous tag line “a diamond is forever,” which became so famous you may not have even realized it was an advertising slogan. Diamonds aren’t as rare as you think Creating a psychological need for diamonds was just one part of a much bigger marketing strategy that made De Beers so successful.
The diamond conglomerate got into consumers’ heads with the idea that diamonds were a rare and precious stone — which isn’t entirely true. Diamonds may be the hardest material found on Earth, but they’re certainly not the rarest. In fact, of all gemstones, diamonds are actually the most common, according to the International Gem Society. But they seem rare because De Beers created an artificially low supply. How? By monopolizing the diamond mining industry as well, allowing them to regulate diamond prices, and play up diamonds as a supposed rarity.