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Brand of the Day: Forevermark Gets Benjamin Millepied to Craft Its New Labor of Love


If diamonds are forever, it's probably best to get one you won't mind looking at for a while—for example, one that isn't tainted by a history of human rights abuses.

Forevermark, the De Beers brand that bills itself as committed to responsible diamond sourcing, wants to provide your guiltless engagement ring, and it's pulling out all the stops to woo you with a new campaign called "Promise."

Directed by Benjamin Millepied, who choreographed Black Swan and is now perhaps best known as Mr. Natalie Portman, the centerpiece 60-second spot (which will air on TV in 30-second and 15-second cuts) offers a black-and-white take on a whirlwind romance (distinctly less twee, though perhaps only slightly more highbrow, than KFC's recent colorful fantasy).

Millepied's ad is packed with the sort of clichés you'd expect from a brand whose business depends on propping up the idea of everlasting love—or at least, love that lasts long enough to be worth baubles that can cost a couple dozen grand. In it, a man and woman meet by passing each other on the street. Sparks fly. He saves her from getting hit by a car door. It rains. The sun comes out. There is lots of spinning, and a voiceover with lots of talk about promises.

Before they part, the man gives the woman an engagement ring, making the whole thing the shortest courtship ever, or maybe it's a time-tested couple role-playing to keep things fresh, or most likely, just a grand metaphor for romance.

Regardless, it's part of a new campaign that also includes print and digital executions that continue the brand's "The center of my universe" line, which has in past years unsurprisingly yielded some of the sappiest advertising in the universe, of course shot in the Hamptons. Indeed, Forevermark hopes to reach men and women of means, be they engaged or already married. (Because gents, remember, when you're in the doghouse, nothing says "I'm sorry" like a responsibly sourced piece of diamond jewelry.)

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De Beers has for years promoted all of its products as conflict-free, and tightened its sourcing practices to weed out stones of dubious origin. But Forevermark is happy to lay out in more detail how the sub-brand's vetting goes beyond broader and less-stringent industry standards. (The Kimberly Process, established in 2002, for example, has in recent years come under fire for whitewashing a diamond trade still riddled with issues like violence and smuggling.)

The hope: With a Forevermark diamond, you'll be less likely to see it as a gaudy and shameful indulgence down the line. The popular association between love and diamonds, though, is itself a fabrication of the De Beers machine. In 1947, a copywriter working for the brand's agency coined the slogan "A diamond is forever" to help bolster demand in a softening market. Fast forward a few decades worth of advertising, and now the symbolism is taken for granted (even as it's widely acknowledged that the high prices of diamonds are themselves the result of market manipulation, not true scarcity).

In other words, if you want to put the money toward a down payment on a house, or your future kid's college fund, that's cool, too.

• Last year, consumers across the globe dropped $79 billion on diamond jewelry.
• The 2006 film Blood Diamond made buyers anxious about where their rings came from. De Beers created the "responsibly sourced" Forevermark brand two years later.
• The size of the marking etched on a Forevermark diamond is 1/20th of a micron deep.
• The perceived scarcity of diamonds is a myth created by decades of De Beers marketing. If diamonds were used solely by industry, they'd be worth between $2 and $30 each.
• While Forevermark might seem designed for American buyers, the U.S. market is actually shrinking. Forevermark has staked its future on India and China.
• De Beers' 2013 operating profit came in at $1 billion—double its earnings from 2012.

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