What is the controversy around Beyoncé’s Tiffany campaign?

‘I can’t be fascinated and just look past the inherent history of a 150 year old blood diamond just because it’s on Beyoncé,’ one critic says

Saman Javed
Friday 27 August 2021 09:40 BST
Jay-Z and Beyonce star in the “About Love” campaign
Jay-Z and Beyonce star in the “About Love” campaign (Tiffany & Co.)

Earlier this week, Beyoncé and Jay-Z surprised fans when Tiffany & Co unveiled its latest campaign, “About Love”, starring the couple.

At the centre of the campaign is the jeweller’s signature yellow Tiffany Diamond, worn by the “Formation” singer.

Posing in front of a reimaged version of Jean-Michel Basquiat’s “Equals Pi” painting, Beyoncé wears a figure-hugging black dress and sheer black gloves, drawing all attention to the 128.54-carat rock around her neck.

While the image delighted some fans of the couple – it is the first time Beyoncé and Jay-Z have appeared together in an advertising campaign – others flocked to social media to criticise the singer for wearing the jewel.

The controversy is surrounding the origins of the diamond, which was discovered in the Kimberley diamond mines in South Africa in 1877 under British colonial rule.

Many people believe the Tiffany diamond is a “blood diamond”. The UN defines blood or conflict diamonds as those that originate from areas “controlled by forces or factions opposed to legitimate and internationally recognised governments, and are used to fund military action in opposition to those governments”.

“Beyoncé doing Tiffany’s campaign wearing a blood diamond doesn’t sit well for her brand ESPECIALLY given her African influenced work in the past few years,” one person wrote on Twitter.

Another said, “I can’t be fascinated and just look past the inherent history of a 150-year-old blood diamond just because it’s on Beyoncé lol.”

On its website, Tiffany & Co states that all of its diamonds are “conflict-free”. It said it has taken “rigorous steps” to ensure that conflict diamonds do not enter its inventory.

“As global leaders in sustainable luxury, Tiffany & Co. is committed to sourcing natural and precious materials in an ethical and sustainable manner. We have a zero-tolerance policy toward conflict diamonds, and source our diamonds only from known sources and countries that are participants in the Kimberley Process,” the brand said.

The Kimberley Process is a certification scheme established by the UN which aims to prevent blood diamonds from entering the mainstream rough diamond market. It was established in 2003, more than 120 years after the Tiffany diamond was bought by the jewellery company’s founder, Charles Lewis Tiffany, in 1878.

Following the controversy, Beyonce’s mother, Tina Knowles, came to the singer’s defence.

“How many of you socially conscious activist own diamonds? I thought so! Well, guess what did you go to try to check to see where the diamond came from? Probably not.’

“So when you guys get engaged you won’t have a diamond, you gonna put on a sterling silver band, and you better check out where it came from and the origin of where [it] came from,” she said.

Others have pointed out that Beyonce was being unfairly targeted by critics after Lady Gaga previously wore the diamond to the 2019 Oscars and did not receive backlash.

Lady Gaga at the 2019 Oscars
Lady Gaga at the 2019 Oscars (AFP via Getty Images)

“Lady Gaga wore that diamond necklace and it was all love but as soon as it lands on Beyoncé’s neck y’all suddenly remember where it’s from and how it’s a blood diamond,” one person said.

Another said: “Okay so we can drag Tiffany for owning a blood diamond but I just want to say that yall only now know it’s a blood diamond when it’s Beyoncé wearing it.”

The Independent has contacted Tiffany & Co for comment.

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