Diamond industry wants women to buy their own rings

Diamond sellers have a new marketing tactic: Convincing women to buy their own diamonds. Women, they say in a campaign called "For Me, From Me," deserve to splurge on themselves with diamond jewelry that celebrates anything from a promotion to even a breakup. 

 

In 2019, the diamond industry will spend more than $200 million in global ad spending — the highest in almost 20 years — as part of an effort to reverse a decline in diamond sales, according to a recent report from Bain and Company and the Antwerp World Diamond Centre. Polished diamond sales are expected to fall 2% globally, while rough diamond sales are expected to fall as much as 25% worldwide, Bain says.   

The ad spend takes different forms in different places. In China, where Western-style weddings are growing in popularity with a swelling middle class, marketers have launched a "Hand-in-Love" campaign to associate diamonds with love and commitment, according to Bain. In India, a recent campaign called "The Most Precious Gift" associates the birth of a child with a gift of diamonds.

But in America, marriage rates are falling, leading to a downturn in so-called "commitment" jewelry, according to a report from De Beers, which says the number of U.S. marriages declined by more than 3% from 2000 to 2017.

So, in campaigns like "For Me, From Me," marketers have a new message: Women should buy diamonds for themselves as a sign of self-empowerment and independence, rather than waiting for a proposal and promises of eternal love. 

"A Diamond is Forever"

Prior to the 2000s, the diamond industry was focused on sparking demand for diamonds, rather than promoting a single brand, according to Bain. That stemmed from the Great Depression, when diamond sales were at all-time low and Americans primarily viewed diamond engagement rings as purchases for the very rich. 

In 1947, De Beers came up with its massively popular slogan "A Diamond is Forever" to imbue diamonds with emotional sentiments like romantic love and commitment as well as to convince consumers not to resell their jewelry. By 1951, eight out of 10 brides in the U.S. received a diamond engagement ring. In 1999, Advertising Age considered it the most successful slogan of the previous century. 

But since then, the diamond industry has dealt with a new set of problems. For one, American consumers don't have the same attachments to diamonds as their parents did. And some consumers are increasingly concerned with the ethical and environmental implications of diamonds, particularly American millennials who grew up learning about diamond conflicts in war-torn Sierra Leone. 

In 2016, the Diamond Producers Association invested $6 million to reintroduce industry-wide campaigns like "A Diamond is Forever," an investment that jumped to as much as $80 million this year, according to Bain. Diamond sellers are also spending $120 million this year on brand-specific ads.

Reward myself

Many women don't need much convincing. One woman interviewed by CBS News, Mindie Barnett, a 45-year-old public relations specialist based in New York and New Jersey, says she often buys herself diamond jewelry to reward herself. The single mother of two young children says she has three businesses going in tandem. She also hopes to pass down her diamond collection to her children one day.