In 1947, Frances Gerety, a young copywriter for Philadelphia ad agency N. W. Ayer, was heading to bed when she realized she still needed to come up with a signature line for her account, De Beers. She scribbled something down on a piece of paper, thinking little of it, and when she presented it the next morning at a meeting, no one—not even Gerety herself—was particularly moved. But “A diamond is forever” became the official De Beers motto within a year, and has gone on to become one of the world’s most iconic; in 1999, Ad Age named it the best advertising slogan of the 20th century.
De Beers has evolved since 1947, to be sure, adapting and growing with the high jewellery market. But the notion of diamonds as everlasting, and the focus on these precious stones at the forefront of design, remains paramount, particularly in the spiralling new Aria Collection. “My inspiration for the collection was the diamond,” says De Beers head designer Hollie Bonneville Barden, explaining that the series of rings, necklaces, earrings, watches, and bracelets were also designed for fluidity, elegance, and light. Visiting Vancouver from London, Bonneville Barden moves her arms—an Aria watch with black band on one, Aria cuff with navy blue petals (and 1,225 diamonds) on the other—as she speaks, allowing the pieces to catch the light. “Aria”, after all, is a Latin word for “atmosphere” or “air”. Each Aria piece begins with the centre diamond and unwinds outward, delicate and poised, almost floating on its band.
Bonneville Barden studied jewellery design at Central St Martins College of Art and Design and worked for a collection of independent British jewellers before joining De Beers in 2011. Aria is her first full collection with the company—an elegant foreshadowing, certainly, of what is to come.