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Unformatted text preview: century. The supposedly precious nature of diamonds, and their association with romance and Hollywood, with James
Bond and Elizabeth Taylor, have such a hold on the modern imagination that it is sometimes easy to forget how much of
the glamour was the product of a professionally designed marketing campaign. For it, Harry Oppenheimer, father of Nicky
and son of Sir Ernest, can take most of the credit.
By the end of the 19th century, a time when the discovery of diamonds in South Africa led t o a glut, diamonds were
already changing from exclusive trophies for royalty into more accessible ornaments for the burgeoning nouveaux riches,
especially in America. It was not until the end of the Depression years, however, that the diamond king concocte d his
scheme to sell the gems more widely.
His idea was to turn diamonds into an essential middle-class accessory, a statement of aspiration to luxury, yet within the
reach of bourgeois pockets. To do this, he concentrated on fixing in the public imaginat ion the instant association of
diamonds with romantic rites of passage: engagements, weddings, anni...
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- Fall '14
- The Land