What Can Bloggers Learn From The Diamond Empire?

What can bloggers learn from the diamond empire

We’ve all heard that diamonds are forever and that they’re also a girls best friend, but did you know that diamonds are only worth a fraction of the cost they sell for? So just how has one company managed to keep on selling the illusion that these gems are valuable? We look at some of the methods they employed and how you can legitimately use the same techniques to grow your blog.

The diamond trade is essentially a monopoly with one company, De Beers, controlling the vast majority of the world’s diamonds. The idea that diamonds are rare and valuable is based on decades of marketing. In fact, De Beers pays diamond mines from around the world billions of dollars each year keep their product from reaching the market. Why would a company pay people not to sell their product, you ask?

De Beers holds back vast quantities of diamonds each year because it’s only the public perception that they are rare that makes them so expensive. The monopoly combined with a brilliant (and incredibly deceptive) marketing plan hatched by advertising company, N. W. Ayer & Son, means that even today, diamonds are still regarded as being a great investment that keep their value “forever” . So just what can bloggers learn from the diamond empire?

(the quotes in this section are taken from this excellent article by Edward Jay Epstein. A link to his online book is at the end of this article)

Value is based on perception

“The underlying assumption is that as long as the general public never sees the price of diamonds fall, it will not become nervous and begin selling its diamonds. If this huge inventory should ever reach the market, even De Beers and all the Oppenheimer resources could not prevent the price of diamonds from plummeting.”

The marketing of diamonds is still successful today because they are perceived to be valuable. As Skelliewag points out in this blog post, the only indication to your readers about the value of your blog is:

  • The number of comments on your posts
  • The number of feed subscribers you have

If you want to increase the perceived value of your site then try working towards increasing the number of comments to your blog. Read these articles on ProBlogger and CopyBlogger for more information on how you can improve the number of comments your posts receive.

You can also show the number of subscribers to your feedburner feed to highlight how popular your blog is and this can act as a form of social proof. New visitors to your site may think that your blog is worth subscribing to if there are already lots of people subscribed to your feed.

If you need some ideas of how to improve the number of subscribers you have then take a look at these other articles on ProBlogger and CopyBlogger.

Market to the right people

The continued success of diamond marketing/propaganda is also because N. W. Ayer & Son knew which people to target:

To exploit this desire for conspicuous display, the agency specifically recommended, “Promote the diamond as one material object which can reflect, in a very personal way, a man’s … success in life.” Since this campaign would be addressed to upwardly mobile men, the advertisements ideally “should have the aroma of tweed, old leather and polished wood which is characteristic of a good club.”

Work out who your audience are and what they are looking for before you start blogging. And it isn’t just enough to know what audience you want to reach, but you also need to know what your audience will want to see when they find your blog.

“…the Ayer study stressed the need to strengthen the association in the public’s mind of diamonds with romance. Since “young men buy over 90% of all engagement rings” it would be crucial to inculcate in them the idea that diamonds were a gift of love: the larger and finer the diamond, the greater the expression of love. Similarly, young women had to be encouraged to view diamonds as an integral part of any romantic courtship.

Look over your website statistics to see what your most popular posts are. Find out why those posts were so popular and what it was about them that made those articles so valuable to your readers. You can also look around other blogs and forums to see what questions people want answering. If you can solve their problems, they’ll come back time and time again.


Market by association

N. W. Ayer gave diamonds to the Queen and movie icons in order to associate diamonds with glamour and exclusivity.

“The Ayer plan also envisioned using the British royal family to help foster the romantic allure of diamonds. An Ayer memo said, “Since Great Britain has such an important interest in the diamond industry, the royal couple could be of tremendous assistance to this British industry by wearing diamonds rather than other jewels.” Queen Elizabeth later went on a well-publicized trip to several South African diamond mines, and she accepted a diamond from Oppenheimer.
In addition to putting these plans into action, N. W. Ayer placed a series of lush four-color advertisements in magazines that were presumed to mold elite opinion, featuring reproductions of famous paintings by such artists as Picasso, Derain, Dali, and Dufy. The advertisements were intended to convey the idea that diamonds, like paintings, were unique works of art.”

So how can you associate your blog with something valuable? It could be a domain name, a tagline or an idea that people automatically associate with you. You can also highlight any guest posts you’ve done for major sites, any mentions you might have had in other publications or by showing your list of clients.

The value of scarcity

“The major investors in the diamond mines realized that they had no alternative but to merge their interests into a single entity that would be powerful enough to control production and perpetuate the illusion of scarcity of diamonds.”

Diamonds are only expensive because of the illusion they are rare, but just how can you use the value of scarcity when there are so many people recommending that you post on your blog everyday?

Posting regularly is important, but knowing what not to post is an equally valuable skill. If you don’t have anything interesting to say or a post won’t add value to your readers, then it’s better to not post anything at all.

One great article a week is better than 10 mediocre ones. There are lots of blogs that add a couple of sentences to a story, but what value is that to your readers? Chances are, if they’re interested in your site they’ll already be looking at the site where you originally found the story anyway. Instead, create compelling content that your readers can’t wait to come back and read.

Don’t market something worthless

N. W. Ayer might have been able to convince the general public to buy something that is essentially worthless, but it’s not advisable to do the same with your blog. In fact, you’ve got one major advantage over De Beers: you don’t need a team of people dedicated to perpetuating a lie in order to become successful. If you’re creating great content for your readers, then that’s actually worth something, unlike the diamond trade…

For more information on the diamond cartel, visit the links below:

Glitter & Greed: The Secret World of the Diamond Empire
The Diamond Empire (Video)
The Diamond Invention
Photo of diamond ring by: rmrayner
money can’t buy love…

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16 Readers have left their thoughts

  1. These are excellent insights. Applying what DeBeers has done in the areas of creating scarcity, exclusivity, or belonging onto any form of marketing is always a smart tactic. Blogs are certainly no exception.

    Very interesting and thought provoking post.

  2. Lizzy

    Interesting read. I still wouldn’t turn down a fat diamond though…

  3. @ Paul – thanks for commenting, glad you enjoyed it. I think the DeBeers marketing campaign is probably one the most successful in history. They constantly changed the publics perception about the “value” of a diamond.

    First they claimed that how large a diamond was indicated it’s value, then after they acquired the Russian mines which produced smaller diamonds, they said it was about the “quality” of the diamond rather than the size.

    I think now they are placing the emphasis on the colour of the diamonds in a hope to get people to continue to buy. I think it’s pretty deceptive, but it’s also an incredibly well executed marketing campaign. Hopefully, bloggers won’t have to resort to the same deception they used…

    @Lizzy – Thanks for commenting and I’m sure my girlfriend would say the same thing (about the diamond, not the interesting read part)

  4. Even bigger than the diamond scandal is fiat money. The U.S.A. can print as much as it wants of it for next to nothing and force us and other countries to accept it. Are there any lessons for bloggers to be had there?

  5. Rarpapemo


    As a fresh socialmediatrader.com user i just wanted to say hi to everyone else who uses this bbs :-)

  6. Huilo

    ???? ?? ?????? ??????, ??? ? ???????? ??? ????, ??????? $20 WMZ: Z385450145510 ? ??????????? ????? c3m3t3ry@gmail.com ???????.

  7. Great article Chris! Dead on! Value, relationships, and excellence…what else is there?

    Professor John P.J. Zajaros, Sr.

  8. I am friends with the relatives who was the intelligence behind the The Diamond Empire. His name was Henry Lee Staples III. He died January 25, 1990 in Washington D.C. He is a distant cousin to Daniel Boone. His great great Great Grandparents were William Barnill and Ruth Ann Boone.

    His Uncle Dr. REV Oliver Paul Barnhill was part of the APL the American Protective League. His Uncle also married Enrico Caruso to One Dorothy Park Benjamin.

    Henry Lee Staples Mother was born in La Grange Oldham County Kentucky. There is a lot of history to this family.

    visit my blog any questions I am able to answer.

  9. I knew De Beers had a virtual monopoly. But I did not know that they prevented other mines and deliberately curtailed producting. Englihtening.

    Number of comments and RSS feeds you say are very important. I have yet to see a blog which offers limited hours live chat.

  10. Excellent article with some great insights! Thanks for sharing.

  11. I am not sure if a blogger can operate like a diamond mine. You don’t exactly have 90% of blogs in the world under your control like De Beer does with its diamond productions. If there are profit to be made, competition can literally pop up overnight. Perception of value can be artificially raised, but never to such a extend as diamonds.

  12. Very interesting articles. I did not know that the diamond had so little value compared to what is advertised and really made me think about how much things are worth and how to put values in our work. Congratulations