Tiffany & Co.’s attempts to chase a younger audience has hit yet another snag after the star of its latest campaign, none other than the incredible Beyoncé, said she was “disappointed and angry” after being photographed wearing a $42 million necklace that’s been branded a ‘blood diamond’.
As reported on B&T on Tuesday, glamour couple Beyoncé and husband Jay-Z have been announced as the face of a new Tiffany & Co. campaign called “About Love” that launches globally on September 2.
A teaser image to the campaign shows the couple in front of a never-before-seen artwork by Jean-Michel Basquiat and Beyoncé wearing a gem that’s now been reported as having a rather dark past.
The $42 million diamond has only ever been worn by three other people in history – socialiate Mary Whitehouse in 1957, actress Audrey Hepburn in the 1961 film Breakfast At Tiffany’s, while Lady Gaga wore it to the Oscars in 2019.
The 128 rare yellow carat diamond was mined in the Beers’ Kimberly Mine in colonial South Africa way back in 1877 by black miners who worked in horrendous and often dangerous and deadly conditions, leading some to call it a ‘blood diamond’ – a gem mined in a warzone to finance violence or illegal activity.
In 1879 the yellow diamond was sold to Charles Tiffany, the founder of the high-end US jeweller.
Social media was quick to point out the jewel’s bleak history and questioned why Beyoncé chose to wear it in the campaign.
Responding to the criticism, a spokesperson for the singer said: “Beyoncé is aware of the criticism and is disappointed and angry that she wasn’t made aware of questions about its history.
“She thought that every final detail had been vetted, but now she realises that the diamond itself was overlooked.”
Even Beyoncé’s mother Tina Lawson chimed in on the action, defending her daughter in a tweet: “How many of you socially conscious activists own diamonds? Did you check to see where the diamond came from? Probably not!”
When the campaign launched earlier in the week, it also caught the ire of art lovers angry that the painting in the picture, Jean-Michel Basquiat’s 1982 peice called Equals Pi, was being used in a jewellery commercial.
The work had been hidden away in a private collection and was recently puchased by Tiffany & Co.
On Twitter, Basquiat fans questioned the decision to debut the painting in a luxury campaign with many art luvvies getting in a right tizz.
“They been hiding a Basquiat for decades just to use it for a Tiffany’s ad?” one asked. Another commented: “Jay-Z cosplaying [pretending to be] as Basquiat is hilarious to me.” Another added: “He wanna be Basquiat so bad.”
“Basquiat wasn’t the type of person or artist to approve of his pieces being used in an ad from multiple billionaires (uncontextualized, at that),” scoffed another detractor on Twitter. “His art was all about pain and beauty in low places, so, it comes across as a tone deaf and flippant flex on his legacy.”
But to be fair to the couple, they do own their own Basquait painting – his Mecca that they acquired for $A6.2 million.
As part of the campaign, Tiffany is donating $US2 million ($A2.7 million) for internship programs and scholarship programs for Historically Black Colleges and Universities in partnership with Beyoncé.
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