It’s a Great Time to Buy a Diamond, But Fewer People Want One
De Beers’ monopoly on diamond supply in the 20th century meant money spent on persuading consumers to pay high-end prices for commodity minerals paid off in surging sales. The investment led in the 1940s to creation of the slogan “A diamond is forever,” and the industry heavily promoted the gems for engagement rings. Jewelersloaned pieces to celebrities like Monroe and 1944 best actress Oscar winner Jennifer Jones to create a buzz around the product as a luxury item.
The new millennium brought the end of the monopoly, meaning other suppliers were able to sell their gems piggybacking on De Beers’ advertising. The company cut itsmarketing budget in half to about $100 million a year through the 2000s.
“The industry is a victim of its own history,” said Charles Wyndham, a former sales director at De Beers and founder of WWW International Diamond Consultants Ltd. “Everyone had a pretty easy ride when De Beers had its monopoly. Everybody has got to think how they can turn it around. It requires a huge cultural change.”