On the fourth of July, Americans celebrate the adoption of their Declaration of Independence in 1776, and this year the 241st anniversary of a nation that would became home to the world’s largest, most vibrant and dynamic economy, which saw the birth of what we today call the consumer culture.
MID House of Diamonds salutes the country that, singlehandedly, changed the diamond trade, transforming it from a club catering almost exclusively to the privileged and wealthy, to a mass market open to all sectors of the population. Whereas diamonds were once worn only by royalty and aristocrats, it was in the United States that they became items synonymous with love and matrimony, worn proudly on the finger of almost every new bride.
MID House of Diamonds honors American Independence Day with five glittering milestones set by diamonds in the United States.
1.THE WORLD’S MOST VALUABLE DIAMOND MARKET
For well over a century, the United States has held the title of the world’s largest and most valuable diamond market. In 2016, it was estimated to be worth about $41 billion, which in terms of market share was equal to about 47 percent of the world in total. Its closest rival, China, was worth less than half that amount. To paraphrase George Orwell, all are equal, but some are more equal than others.
2. THE MOST EVER PAID FOR A DIAMOND IN THE UNITED STATES
On April 16, 2013, at Christie’s in New York City, a 34.65-carat cushion-cut fancy intense pink diamond called the Princie sold $39.3 million dollars. It was a historic stone, which had been discovered 300 years earlier at the Golconda mines in India, and was believed to be the third largest fancy colored pink diamond in the world. At the time, it was highest price achieved for any jewel sold at Christie’s, and, while larger sums have been paid at auctions elsewhere since then, it remains the highest sales price ever for a diamond in the United States.
The Princie, the most expensive diamond ever sold in the United States.
3.THE BEST AD SLOGAN OF THE TWENTIETH CENTURY
Late one night in 1948, just before she went to bed, a copywriter by the name of Frances Gerety scribbled “A Diamond is Forever” on a piece of paper. The next morning, she showed it to her bosses at the N. W. Ayer ad agency in Philadelphia, which at was struggling to come up with an adequate slogan for its client De Beers. Before the start of “A Diamond is Forever” campaign in the United States, only about 10 percent of American brides owned diamond rings. By the start of the 1950s the number had increased to 60 percent, and by the 1990s the figure had surpassed 80 percent. In 1999, Advertising Age named “A Diamond is Forever” as the best ad slogan of the 20th Century.
4.THE MOST FAMOUS SONG EVER FEATURING DIAMONDS
Diamonds have long been a favored topic of singers and songwriters, and have featured in a great many song titles. “Shine On You Crazy Diamond,” by Pink Floyd, “Diamonds Are Forever,” by Shirley Bassey, “Diamonds” by Rihanna, and “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” by the Beatles are just a few, although the latter may not really have been referring to the gemstone. One song, however, stands tall above all the others. Almost 70 years ago, Carol Channing first sang “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend” in the original Broadway production of Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, but it is Marilyn Monroe’s version from the 1953 Hollywood film of the same name that is most iconic and best remembered. It is listed as the 12th most important film song of all time by the American Film Institute.
5.THE LARGEST DIAMOND EVER MINED IN THE UNITED STATES
While the United States is a world’s largest consumer of diamonds, the country is not well known as a producer of the world’s favorite gemstone. But that is not to say that there are no diamond deposits in the vast country. Its most famous diamond field is the Crater of Diamonds State Park in Pike County, Arkansas, which features a 37.5-acre field that is billed as the world’s only diamond-bearing site accessible to the public. More than 29,000 diamonds have been found there since it became a state park in 1972, and visitors may keep any gemstone they find, regardless of its value. But the largest stone ever discovered at the site, as well as the entire United States, was mined before it became a state park. That happened in 1924, when a 40.23-carat diamond was found. Not of particularly good quality, it yielded a 12.42-carat emerald-cut gem, which unsurprisingly, was given the name “Uncle Sam.”
Visitors at Crater of Diamonds State Park in Pike County, Arkansas, searching for diamonds.