Monday, May 9

The Hope Diamond

It's one of the most compelling marketing stories ever told, yet most don't know it's a marketing story at all.

The Hope Diamond, one of the most famous diamonds in the world.  Not only because of its color, size, and beauty, but also because of the legend that surrounds it.

Although it currently rests in the Smithsonian, its origin is from India and then with King Louis XIV of France and Marie Antoinette.  During the French Revolution, the Hope Diamond disappeared and then resurfaced in the early 1800s only to be kicked around from owner to owner, including King George IV of Great Britain who co-mingled it with the Crown Jewels.

The Hope family first published its ownership publicly, hence the name.  The Hope family didn't have a lot of, shall we say, luck.  A series of misfortunes eventually led to the sale of the Hope Diamond to Cartier.  By now, the story surrounding the Hope Diamond had become larger than the diamond itself -- bringing a curse to anyone who wore it, dating back to Marie Antoinette (or so said Cartier).

Long story short, we now know that the "curse" was fabricated by Cartier in order to increase the diamond's value, which certainly worked.  He sold the diamond to the McClane family for a great sum, who sold it to Harry Winston for an even greater sum, who gave it to the Smithsonian.  The story traveled with it each and every time, merely adding to the intrigue and the purchase price.

A long tale that grew bigger and bigger through the ages,  just to increase the market value of an item.  Social marketing in its early stages -- imagine if they had Twitter back then!

The Smithsonian is now using the Hope Diamond to build traffic to the museum.  To celebrate the 50th Anniversary of Winston's donation to the museum, Winston put the diamond in a new "temporary" setting after an online vote where 100,000 people picked their favorite.

Traffic has been incredible, in fact many are saying that the Hope Diamond is the most visited museum exhibit in the world.  Marketing at its finest.

What's your experience?  Jim.

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