Diamonds: Forever & Then Some…

Retro Staff Comments
Mary Francis Gerety

Copywriter Mary Francis Gerety came up with the infamous slogan about diamonds in 1947.

For centuries men have given something to their bride-to-be, (besides just grief), but it  wasn’t always a ring. Even if it was, it wasn’t necessarily a diamond.

Prior to the 20th century, an engagement gift might have been a thimble (in lieu of jewelry), or, near the end of the 19th century, a  posy ring (a simple gold band with an inscription). Diamond rings didn’t become commonplace until the late-’30s, thanks to a   brilliant marketing campaign by De Beers, which dominated the diamond industry.

During the Great Depression, sales of diamond jewelry plummeted. Eager to get back to real business, De Beers hired N W Ayer & Son to come up with a plan to market the pricey gem. Ayer’s  discovered that not only had the Depression caused a 50% drop in   diamond sales, but the dollar value for diamonds had also decreased dramatically. The firm suggested a marketing campaign that would shift  the image of diamonds being for the wealthy and elite, to being considered a   gift that represented true love. Ayer’s goal was to get the public to associate diamonds with romance, and turning diamonds into a symbol of commitment.

It was copywriter Mary Frances Gerety, in 1947, who came up with the slogan: “A Diamond  is Forever”, thus kicking off the trend of a man presenting his bride-to-be with a diamond engagement ring. Before you get any funny ideas, guys, both Ayer  and Ms. Gerety are deceased, and the thimble? Well, let’s just say it didn’t exactly establish its place in romance history alongside the glittery thing.

1948 De Beers Diamond Ad

Late 1940s (est. 1948) De Beers “A Diamond is Forever” ad.

What about you? Fortunate enough to have swapped a hunk o’ rock for a lifetime of commitment to the woman you love? Have you avoided the three rings of marriage? (The engagement ring, the wedding ring, and the suffering?) How did you propose to your sweetie, or, did you choose to give her a diamond to mark another special event in your life?

De Beers 1950s Diamond Ad

De Beers 1950s Diamond Ad


Hey, diamonds might be forever, but they’re not just for one’s ring finger, you know. Drop us a line, especially if you want to share a pic of the stone you gave to that special someone. If you’re still hoping to buy yourself some time, on the other hand (so to speak), maybe check out this 2-carat ring coffee mug. Nothing wrong with keeping her guessing.

Last updated: Mar 24, 2014
Filed under: Retro Advertising Tagged with: advertising, fashion, marketing