Of Hearts and Diamonds – How Diamonds Came to Rule Hearts

Swapna Mirashi

Diamonds have become ubiquitous for expressing love. How has a practically worthless stone, come to become a necessity; a metaphor for love and esteem? This post explores the strong connection between hearts and diamonds, a result of nothing more than a clever marketing campaign that people all over the world are falling for, for years.

Love is often expressed with flowers, chocolates and/ or diamonds in the modern world. Diamonds have become a symbol for love and esteem and hence, have a huge aspirational value. Engagement proposal is ‘a diamond on a ring’. And bigger the diamond = more the love. Right? WRONG.

Diamond marketers have been creating a myth around diamonds and selling a not-so-rare and not-so-valuable rock as an expression of love, sign of prestige and item of value since late nineteenth century. All thanks to smart marketing and media strategy that has been running for years.

Here is a look at the campaign over the years (and what it actually means);

A. Connect Hearts and Diamonds (otherwise, who’d ever buy the most abundant element on earth for a heavy price?)

A series of ads featuring paintings by Salvador Dali (like the one below) or Pablo Picasso, coupled with a poetic copy about love (and diamond) sealed this connection forever.


B. Tie it to a common ritual, (invent rituals, if you must, to boost sales)

A series of ads that made ‘engagement diamond’ synonymous with a proposal. And then of course, there were Valentine’s Day and Holidays, and ‘Just to Show You Love’ days to promote diamonds.

C. Hammer the message – Diamond is Forever (coz if they come back to sell the diamond they’d find out that it is actually worth nothing)

Named the ‘Greatest Advertising Slogan of the 20th Century’, Diamond is Forever (as a metaphor to love or relationship) suggests to the consumer to keep the stones forever (and also to keep buying forever)


D. Get celebrities and people’s weakest emotions to endorse diamonds (get them to buy, by hook or crook)

Anxious if your girlfriend will love you back or not? Insecure about how much you earn or the way you look? Jealous of your friends? Possessive? Shy? Greedy? They had all of these emotions and the modern symbols of fashion, glamour and looks to endorse the product that otherwise means nothing to no one.


E. Finally, tell people where they will find the money to buy your product (coz remember there’s fortune at the bottom of pyramid)

Once diamonds were positioned as ‘forever, invaluable gift, aspirational’ stones, in order to make the sale, De Beers had to help consumers find the money. To counter the perception that diamonds are expensive (barrier to buying diamonds), the marketers actually told their prospective consumers on where can they find money to buy the ‘precious’ stone.     

 “The diamond invention is a mechanism for converting tiny crystals of carbon into universally recognized tokens of wealth, power, and romance.”

Edward Jay Epstein