The world’s largest diamond market, the United States, is anchored by the bridal sector. Up to 85 percent of diamond jewelry sales are wedding related, including diamond engagement rings, wedding bands and wedding-day jewelry for brides and bridesmaids. Weddings also are the trigger for later life-cycle purchases, such as engagement jewelry.
THE INTERNATIONALIZATION OF BRIDAL JEWELRY
The concept of bridal jewelry was essentially a Western one, but in the 1960s De Beers realized that the largest regions for potential growth were outside of North America and Europe. Japan was targeted as a market of tremendous potential.
Until the mid-1960s, there was no real tradition in Japan of buying diamond jewelry to celebrate a marriage, but the ad agency that De Beers employed to run its campaign in the country, J. Walter Thompson, detected a strong appetite for objects reflecting modern Western values. It thus created a series of advertisements featuring women with Western features, displaying their diamond rings.
When the campaign kicked off 1967, fewer than 5 percent of Japanese women received a diamond engagement ring. By 1972, figure had climbed to 27 percent. Six years later half of all Japanese women who were married wore a diamond, and by 1981 the proportion stood at 60 percent. Japan became the second largest diamond engagement ring market, after the United States.