Differentiating Diamonds: Transforming Knowledge and the Accumulation of De Beers

Differentiating Diamonds: Transforming Knowledge and the Accumulation of De Beers
Cochrane, DT. (2017). Working Papers on Capital as Power. January. pp. 1-36. (Article - Working Paper; English).

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Abstract or Brief Description

In 1939, the De Beers diamond company faced a dire situation. The company’s accumulation had been dwindling for decades. The Great Depression not only pushed diamond sales to historic lows, it shifted American attitudes around consumption and thriftiness to the detriment of the luxury object. In this article, I bring together Liz McFall’s assertion that advertising needs to be studied as a “specific commercial device” with Jonathan Nitzan and Shimshon Bichler’s capitalas-power theory of value (CasP), which emphasizes differential accumulation. Both McFall and CasP challenge analyses that treat capitalism as an undifferentiated totality. It is from this perspective of differentiated commercial struggle that I analyze De Beers’ early advertising campaigns as well as the market research by N.W. Ayer that preceded them. My analysis focuses on an educational component intended to transform the diamond knowledge of the masses. The analysis demonstrates how the research informed the campaign that emerged in contingent relation with various facets of American society and was transformed by changes emergent with WWII.



Publication Type

Article - Working Paper


advertising De Beers diamonds differential accumulation mass consumption


BN Power
BN Region - Africa
BN Region - North America
BN Agency
BN Value & Price
BN Business Enterprise
BN Capital & Accumulation
BN Culture

Depositing User

Jonathan Nitzan

Date Deposited

03 Jan 2017 16:33

Last Modified

03 Jan 2017 16:40



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