Both love and wealth are reified in the image of the diamond. These two adverts found in a recent issue of Vogue appeared in time for Valentine’s Day and represent wildly different visions of what love is.
One is passive, elegant, head over heals romantic and hopelessly conservative. The other is competitive, aggressive and ice cold in its neo-liberalism and lack of emotion.
Visually the Tiffany & Co advert is very minimal. All the complexity comes from the singular beauty of the large diamond depicted. It is photographed to emphasise a kind of uniqueness. The text reads simply ‘There is only one true love’. The diamond becomes a representative of true love, both utterly singular and utterly beautiful, it is the only thing that even approaches the specialness of love.
On one level this as an uncontroversial image of love but it is also stiflingly conservative. You may have only one true love, unique to you . Yet you should express this love the same way as everyone else: Meet a girl, fall in love, buy her a ring, and marry her forever. There is only one way to fall in love in the world of Tiffany & Co, and it only ‘truly’ happens once.
Wempe appeals to a more Darwinian concept of love. “Give her a diamond before someone else does”. The dark background creates a sense of masculine aggression to back up the strikingly gendered line of copy. The multiple rings complete this aura of competition, are there a number of prizes to collect?
Love here is a marketplace, by the logic presented in this advertisement the diamond is a means to stake a claim before someone else does. It’s almost as if the word Solitaire was used to subconsciously remind you that the threat of loneliness is never far away. Best mark your territory now, before it’s too late. A brutal realist might argue that this neo-liberal view of love is more realistic than the Tiffany version, but it is certainly less appealing.
The sad truth of both of these adverts is that whichever vision of love you subscribe to at their very core they are threats of a kind. Both adverts tell the reader that there is something to lose, whether it is ‘the one’ or ‘the game’ there is not a lot of hope in these adverts for the singleton. Happy Valentine’s Day