Assessing Rhetorics In Jewelry Marketing Cultural Studies Essay

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The demand for expensive jewelry is rising thus driving up prices. With resources used for making them a being scarce, people are forced to use alternative materials which are easily accessible like bones and horns. The bones are shaped, polished and coated with precious metals. To many, this represents a loss of a status symbol when jewelry is made from materials that would pass as waste. It is true that there is a sentimental attachment people place on precious metals and to them, an ornament has to be made from gold, diamond or silver. However, placing it beyond the reach of ordinary people to retain it ornamental value limits commercial profits and assumes that everyone buys ornaments purely as a status. Most people may buy expensive jewelry not as a status symbol but for their aesthetic value. It is fair therefore to make less expensive ornaments to cater for the less endowed market. However, whether authentic or imitation, cleverly worded marketing rhetoric persuades buyers to buy them.

Gold is the most valued of all materials used for making jewelry. Records dating back to the beginning of the art of writing point out that gold has always been a highly sought after commodity. Throughout history, it has served as a store of value and a symbol of status. The Roman Empire used gold in commerce as their currency. This could have been informed by its non-oxidative properties both in air and water as well as its extreme malleability and ductility in its pure form. It is bright yellow in color, dense, soft and shiny making it one of the most attractive metals on earth. Today it is still used as a means of preserving value and is held in high regard. Polished gold jewelry has come to symbolize those who attain extreme commercial success in what they do, be it music, drama, film and sport. Large corporations that specialize in manufacture of expensive jewelry have changed the conventional aesthetic value that people place on them. The marketing rhetoric employed has turned from the old luxury that existed in classical era that was mainly to demarcate between social classes to a new dispensation characterized by a more inclusive and sociable luxury mainly exhibited in urban metropolises. In its extreme, it is a world of fantasy controlled by the dictates of large corporations. Profiteering corporations have literally colored the modern man's dream of the jewel. New and innovative designs have been incorporated into modern day necessities such as wrist watches wedding rings. This integration of jewelry to modern day tools of trade is meant to bring them to the core of human existence. In the words of Black (2009), this has led to the modern man's loss of the natural and innocent self.

Mandeville on the other hand argues that that luxury (such as expensive jewels) goes hand in hand with politeness, commercial growth and vanity. The marketing rhetoric behind offers of purchase tells it all. Expensive and showy, jewels are not for the shallow-pocketed. It is for those with affluence that often comes with commercial clout, political power and grandeur. Ignoring the beauty, sensibility and taste of the consumer, the instant message that an expensive jewel sends is that of affluence. In this modern world, affluence relates closely to class which in turn translates to power- whether commercial or political. With several dealers attracted along the jewels value chain, there is arguably room for everybody even though it means settling for less. With the jewelry business declining due to scarcity of resources, the tendency is to make do with the other less valuable but no less demanded jewelry, albeit coated with a thin film of precious metal. The artifact still sends the intended signal but leaves a smaller dent on the customer's savings.

Falling average sales in the world markets have resulted in company's employing innovative rhetoric to drive revenues. To popularize their product, the companies have resulted in marketing campaigns that portray majesty of their luxuries and that of those who buy them. Marketing rhetoric portrays jewelry as larger than life and as the ultimate measure of self worth. Typically, precious metals and stones have been marketed either targeting ladies or targeting men to buy for their ladies. Most jewel ads carry a picture of a beautiful lady to evoke feeling of elegance and purpose. The grand images created by these marketing campaigns have served to maintain jewelry as a grand preserve of a select few, adorned with power, wealth and a full sense of self worth to the exclusion of the struggling masses. These masses play catch-up and invent artifacts from less than precious than gold since they are made of discarded materials like bones and horns. Better still, a fair blacksmith can make precious items from less expensive and commonly available metals and coat it with a thin film of gold to attain a classy look. Both the pure gold and coated little luxuries carry the same sentimental values to their owners their own measures of grandness. This has changed the jewelry from a status symbol to a mass consumed artifact that both the servant girl and grand princess can afford with comparable measures of beauty.

Smith (1759), the father of modern economic thought, noted the people's fascination with ingenious trinkets and toys in The Theory of Moral Sentiments. He remarked that what pleases the lover of the toys is not its utility but rather the aptness of the machine used to promote it. The world has seen the best and worst of marketing rhetoric from corporations. The corporations frequently employ grand rhetoric that portrays their offerings not as luxuries of ostentation and excesses of the oriental despots but rather as those of novelty, fashion and ingenuity. Precisely, and as Burke (1999) puts it, jewels are portrayed as a glimpse of a tomorrow with opportunity and freedom. LV, Hermes, Dior and so many more have reaped from this grand rhetoric. The luxury world is no longer that of invention, mechanism, imitation and novelty. Rather, it is a world of delight comfort, convenience, utility and the agreeable. Such form the motivation of the working middle class. The rhetoric shapes their ideology to fit in corporations' strategy. The demand for more and more luxuries can only be met through producing several quantities of highly differentiated jewels.

Economists argue that luxuries are goods that are exclusively for the rich. In actual sense, they are not meant for all but a few. They are the designer and branded goods that warrant distinction, diversity and individuality. The grand rhetoric style of marketing helps a lot in relating the design and the manufacture of the jewelry. It points to the sumptuousness, surprise and delight as the driving force behind the 21st century luxury consumerism. The catchy front pages of major magazines embed on people's minds and increase the sentimental value of jewelry among consumers. Today, jewelry is believed to be one in a life time thing among ladies and could define their happiness in their entire life after marriage if given as a wedding ring. Due to the scarcity of the raw materials such as gold, diamonds, precious stones and pearls, it equates to finding one rare person amid a multitude of lookalikes. This message has been used over and over again to induce purchase of invaluable jewels. Producing those items and putting into a high quality jewel piece is very involving as every single piece must be perfectly placed into the right position as specified in its original design. It also needs to be highly polished to an extent where the shine hits the eyes. The valuable piece must be displayed in a convenient place where the customers where the affluent frequent. The smell of the high end Brazilian wood, and the sparkle of the gigantic Chandelle foams the jewelry shop as to match the value of the jewel. The employee uses the right words to drive the grandeur home. This translates to the list price symbolic of the regard with which one holds his bride.

The makers of luxurious jewelry describe in a grand style with effective application of rhetoric to attract and retain their clientele. Typical clients are used to largesse and aren't ready for less than ideal offerings. They demand a grand style of presentation, a concept of freedom, ability and confidence and a showy refinement in gratification of senses. The marketing of these jewels is made not to obviate the real wants but to please the fancy. To match its application, the marketing employs a heightened emotional tone, striking diction, and highly elaborate figures of speech (McKendrick, Brewer & Plumb, 1982).

Rhetoric recognizes that the purpose of advertising is not only to inform but also to persuade. Macquarie & Mick (1996) contend that rhetoric occurs when an expression deviates from expectation and such deviation occurs at the level of form rather than content. For instance the gold advert for excel diamonds gold dealer runs;

"This is valentine day, we are refraining from using silly cupid references trite love poems and jokes about roses, cards or chocolate. You might want to do the same. Diamond is forever" (Kennedy, 1991. pp.20).

The level of rhetoric in this advert persuades the public not to do the conventional thing-buy withering flowers and chocolate. Through diction, the ad makes reference to the permanence of diamond contrasting it sharply with the temporary infatuation created by the roses only to wither in the aftermath. The ad later asserts that "diamond is forever" to symbolically cement the true value of diamond. And for those who invested in troubled relationships struggling to make up, those who bought gold rings "reported seeing a bright yellow light at the end of the tunnel" (). In jewel marketing, rhetoric is the most powerful devices as it evoke several senses at a go and thus ensures the message is easily remembered. In the 21st century context, consumerism and a public show of ego has taken center stage. Advertisers know that the consumer will buy anything that evokes the macho feeling no matter how much it cost. Rhetoric plays a key role in driving the message to the heart rather than to the mind to the consumer thus locking out the rationality. For instance one advert runs "make sure she has a soft place to land" (White, 1994). This word stretches the truth to the extent that it assumes the elegance of the jewel presented by her lover will instantly make her go weak in the knees thus necessitating a soft place to land.


Nowhere is rhetoric more elaborate than in jewelry advertising. For rhetoric to be effective, the orator must make his/her argument adequately demonstrative and worthy of belief. He must command authority by virtue of knowledge of what s/he is addressing and must make his character always look right: the audience must feel that s/he is virtuous, prudent and has goodwill. In addition, he must put the audience in the right frame of mind for them to decide. Once the rhetoric is packaged, it is delivered in the right style so as to evoke the right feelings. In jewelry marketing rhetoric, the message lays bare the facts but lets the audience have its take. For instance, the advert for real gold seeks to persuade customers from buying gold plated jewels and instead go for real gold. It goes "real men with real emotions buy real gold". It states the basic fact though exaggerated, it is persuasive to the core (Young, Becker & Pike, 2002). The orator seeks to make the audience look down upon the less ostentatious gold. In jewelry marketing rhetoric, the audience is treated to vivid pictures of reality sharply (but silently) contrasted with the opposite side of the story. The rhetoric literacy sets the scene before the eyes of the audience by using expressions that represent objects as state of activity (Black, 2009). This together with a touch of surprise makes the audience feel as if they have learnt something (Black, 1985).