A Diamond is Forever – De Beers Slogan Explained!

Are you looking for the meaning of De Beers’s Slogan: A Diamond is Forever? If yes, this article is going to explain it to you in detail.

As an entrepreneur, I’m very interested in learning about the slogans of some successful companies like De Beers. Because it inspires me to use the same kind of marketing tactic in my own business.

So in the past week, I have studied a lot of materials about De Beers’s Slogan: A Diamond is Forever. I’m going to share with you my findings about the slogan. You may find it very inspirational if you are a business student or business owner.

In this article about “A Diamond is Forever”, I’m going to cover the following topics:

What Does “A Diamond is Forever” Mean?

Since 1870, diamonds have not been a rare commodity. Historically, however, they have been regarded as symbols of wealth, power, and decadent romantic dreams – a stone too precious and expensive to own unless you were a member of the wealthy elite.

All of that changed when De Beers and the clever creatives at N.W. Ayer & Son launched the brilliant “A Diamond Is Forever” campaign. 

The tagline forever changed public perceptions of diamonds as an exclusive possession of the wealthy. 

Through convincing people that a diamond ring completes a marriage, a diamond demand was created. The slogan “A Diamond Is Forever” was named the top slogan of the century by Ad Age in 1999.

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Who Created the Slogan “A Diamond is Forever”?

In 1947, copywriter Frances Gerety at Philadelphia advertising agency NW Ayer wrote the iconic tagline ‘A Diamond Is Forever.’ 

It’s a good slogan, since it reminds people that it’s a memorial to love, as such it must stay in the family forever, never to be sold. 

In an ironic twist, Gerety never married and died a spinster.

During the Great Depression, De Beers was searching for a strategy to boost diamond sales, which had fallen.

Over 70 years later, the four-word slogan remains one of the most recognizable brand slogans ever. De Beers has used the tagline in every engagement ad since 1948, according to a 2013 New York Times article.

The creation of the modern engagement ring is credited to Gerety and her colleagues at N.W. Ayer, since it was not common to propose to a woman with a diamond before the campaign debuted.

These days, most engagement rings include a diamond of some sort, proving that advertising can have a profound impact on culture, and change the way entire generations of men and women view the institution of marriage.

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How Was The “A Diamond is Forever” Slogan Created?

Despite not realizing it at the time, De Beers’ diamond campaigns revolutionized the diamond industry. 

A young copywriter at the NW Ayer advertising agency, Frances Gerety, coined the famous slogan: ‘A diamond is forever.’ Due to this tagline and its advertising, diamond engagement rings became a need as well as a desire.

The campaign aimed to create a parallel between a diamond and love. A man was being encouraged to purchase diamonds as the most romantic gift he could give his lover. 

A black and white video of two people on a beach appears in a 1977 De Beers commercial. Beaches and homes like these look like they belong in the Hamptons or Cape Cod, places known for their wealth and status. 

The only color in the film is the gold solitaire diamond ring that the guy proposes with, a De Beers ring. 

In the following lines, the narrator says, and the screen shows the words, “How else could two months’ salary last forever? A diamond is forever. De Beers.” 

It’s not only that they romanticize the need for diamonds, but they’ve also put a price tag on it. 

In order to get engaged and have a loving relationship, men and women are being told what to spend. In order to get engaged and have a loving relationship, men and women are being told what to spend.

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What’s the Impact of the Slogan “A Diamond is Forever”?

It was not necessarily normal to wear diamond engagement rings during the 1930s, but today, it is almost a given. 

For the diamond industry, the 1930s were a difficult decade: prices fell worldwide for diamonds. Diamond engagement rings didn’t catch on because Europe was on the brink of another war. 

Indeed, engagement rings were considered to be a luxury, so diamonds were rarely included in them. N.W. Ayer & Son, the first advertising agency in the United States, was hired by De Beers to change the perception of diamonds in America in 1938. 

As of 1990, 80% of first-time brides received diamond engagement rings, up from 10% in 1940. Diamonds symbolize indestructible love, which is why your indestructible love should be symbolized by an indestructible stone. 

According to De Beers’ numbers, this marketing campaign was extremely successful. They increased their wholesale diamond sales in the United States alone from $23 million to $2.1 billion between 1939 and 1979. 

They increased their advertising budget from $200,000 per year to $10 million per year as a result. A good investment for De Beers.

A clever campaign was suggested by the ad agency to connect diamonds to romance in the minds of the public.

In order to achieve this, diamond rings were placed on the fingers of Hollywood stars, and articles were written about how diamond rings symbolized romance. They even targeted high schoolers:

Engagement rings weren’t the only part of their campaigns. De Beers encouraged couples to get a second diamond ring after their wedding when the engagement ring market seemed to be dwindling. To reaffirm your love and commitment to each other, this diamond ring was given.

De Beers has continued its marketing efforts, with taglines such as, “Marry me sounds so much better than just Merry Christmas,” and “Of course there’s a return on your investment. We just can’t print it here.” 

These advertisements have proven to be very successful, though none as revolutionary as their initial, “A diamond is forever.” 

Fifty years after its creation, it was recognized by Ad Age as the greatest advertising slogan of the 20th century. It certainly was and perhaps is the most influential tagline for all of the diamond market.

People who were unable to pay for a diamond at the time of their marriage would “defer the purchase” rather than forego it.

A clever advertising agency took it a step further. According to N.W. Ayers, women tend to pick cheaper rings when they are involved in choosing the engagement ring. 

As a result, De Beers encouraged men to pick their own diamonds, with the belief that the more expensive the stone, the better a man will look in the eyes of a woman. 

A guideline was even given to clueless men: American men were advised to spend two months’ wages, and Japanese men were advised to spend three months’ wages.

However, the guidelines varied from country to country. It was “two months’ salary” equivalent in the United States, while in Great Britain, only one month was required. Japan’s expectations were the highest, at three months. 

A De Beers representative explained why the Japanese were told to spend so much compared to Americans or the English. “We were, quite frankly, trying to bid them up,” he answered. 

How Did “A Diamond is Forever” Campaigns Work?

N.W. Ayer was hired by De Beers in 1938 to make Americans fall in love with diamond engagement rings. During the Great Depression, diamonds were considered an extravagance by the wealthy, causing their sales, already declining for more than two decades, to plummet.

In 1947, when Gerety first suggested the line during a routine morning meeting, her copy department colleagues (all men) argued that it didn’t mean much. It wasn’t even grammatically correct to use the word “forever.”

In every engagement advertisement since 1948, De Beers has featured “A Diamond Is Forever.”. The slogan was named the slogan of the century by Advertising Age in 1999. 

According to internal Ayer documents, the campaign required “the creation of a new form of advertising that has been widely imitated ever since.”. 

The campaign did not involve direct sales. There was no brand name to impress on the public’s mind. All that was left was an idea – the eternal emotional value associated with diamonds.”

“A Diamond Is Forever” is brilliant because it emphasizes both eternity and sentiment. 

Gerety had been writing about that theme for several years. Advertisements in Look, Vogue, Life, Collier’s, Harper’s Bazaar, and the Saturday Evening Post often focused on permanence and timelessness. A series of honeymoon images said, “May your happiness last as long as your diamond.” Another counseled, “Wear your diamonds as the night wears its stars, ever and always . . . for their beauty is as timeless.” 

There were ads suggesting that a diamond might be the key to immortality for couples separated by war. There were also ads appealing to the ego of men, likening the purchase of a diamond to founding a city.

Timelessness includes both the past and the future. In annual reports to De Beers beginning in the 1940s, Ayer often mentioned advertisements that promoted “the engagement diamond tradition.” 

The story wasn’t actually a tradition, but the more they told it, the more the public accepted it as fact.

If you buy this object, your love will never end. This tagline represents an ultimate (and ultimately impossible) promise. Gerety’s message seemed to warn that forever is impossible without a diamond. This message worked.

As the copy and art evolved to keep up with the times, Gerety’s slogan has remained a constant. Some ads evoke memories from the past, like old family photos.

A particular message was sometimes conveyed by tweaking the line. 

During the 1960s, when De Beers wanted customers to buy an excess of unfashionably tiny stones, Gerety’s campaign shifted the focus from “the bigger, the better” to “size isn’t everything.” 

There were some ads during this period that seemed a bit desperate. “The diamond is forever,” they said. “Even the small diamond.”

The slogan eventually made its way to television, in the much-mocked “Shadows” campaign of the 1990s. When Gerety retired, De Beers had taken its business to the J Walter Thompson agency. However, the line continued.

Today, students at New York University, the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, and the University of Pennsylvania study “A Diamond Is Forever” as an example of innovative techniques, complex messages, and sheer resilience. (

Many of the students were familiar with the phrase, but didn’t know it was an advertising slogan, according to one professor.

The best lines integrate seamlessly into the culture, reinforcing the importance of each other. 

When Ian Fleming’s 1956 novel Diamonds Are Forever, the fourth James Bond novel, was released, “Diamonds Are Forever” gained elevated status in popular culture. 

As a result of the film and the Shirley Bassey song of the same name, diamonds gained even more attention in 1971. 

David Morris, the jeweler in the movie who had won De Beers’s Diamonds International Award twice for innovative design, loaned the elaborate jewels featured in the film.

Kanye West sampled Bassey’s chorus in 2005’s “Diamonds From Sierra Leone.” The song is clearly anti-blood diamond. 

However, it is not anti-diamond. At the end of a music video, a line of text might even be construed as an advertisement. West proposed to Kim Kardashian with a massive 15-carat diamond ring last fall, in which he expressed his affinity for diamonds.

Currently, De Beers controls between 35 and 40 percent of the world’s diamond supply. The company was prohibited from making direct sales in the United States when it controlled the market. 

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Why Is the Business Slogan Important For De Beers?

In advertising, slogans are short, catchy phrases. An effective slogan can draw attention to a brand or product. 

Marketing slogans have been around for a long time, but today they are everywhere, used by a variety of brands. 

In a good slogan, the product’s benefits should be highlighted. Memorable slogans will also highlight a brand’s image. 

In general, a slogan with meaning resonates more strongly with customers than just the brand’s name, due to the fact that a slogan provides more than just reassurance, but also explains what the brand stands for.

Slogans are important in marketing for the following reasons:

Brand positioning and recognition

A brand’s identity is determined by its logo, slogan, and name. 

A catchy slogan will help you establish brand recognition in the marketplace if it is memorable and catchy. Your brand’s positioning will be determined by the tone and language of your slogan.

Building better customer relationships

Slogans serve as a connection between a business and its related customers for centuries. 

In turn, this results in a positive attitude towards brands whose slogans are remembered by their audiences.

Stand out from the crowd

The slogan of a brand should be distinctive. People will remember your brand that way. 

It is possible to identify your brand without mentioning its name or product by mentioning its slogan. 

Make your product more popular

The slogan can tell the audience not only about the product, but also about its advantages. 

The slogan describes how people view a product. Therefore, a slogan can be used as a marketing strategy to enhance the appeal of your product.

Final Words: A Diamond is Forever

Diamonds were successfully advertised by De Beers to manipulate consumer demand. 

Diamonds have been marketed as a symbol of love and commitment as one of the most effective marketing strategies.

In 1947, Frances Gerety (1916-1999), a copywriter at N W Ayer & Son, coined the famous advertising slogan, ‘A Diamond is Forever’.

‘A Diamond is Forever’ was named the best advertising slogan of the 20th century by Advertising Age magazine in 2000. 

Diamonds Are Forever may have been the inspiration for the James Bond book, film, and song.

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A Diamond is Forever - De Beers Slogan

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