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63rd Grammy Awards at Staples Center

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A recent Tiffany & Co. campaign starring Beyoncé and her husband Jay Z has ruffled some feathers.  The ad, which focuses on love and pays homage to the iconic film Breakfast at Tiffany’s, features a 128-carat yellow stone that many believe to be a blood diamond – diamonds that have been extracted from central and western Africa and are illegally sold to private buyers.  These diamonds are often used to fund wars and to support child labor and slavery.  The featured diamond was discovered in 1877 in Kimberly, South Africa and later sold to Tiffany’s founder, Charles Tiffany.

The controversial $30 million gem has been featured on Audrey Hepburn and Lady Gaga.  Tiffany reports that there have only been three women to wear the diamond, and Beyoncé is the fourth and only Black woman to don it.

While some fans are in love with the latest Beyoncé and Tiffany collaboration, others are disturbed by the ad’s content.  Critics penned their thoughts under a picture of the diamond which was posted to Tiffany’s Instagram page not too long after the ad debuted.  One user responded to the post by writing, “Discovery in 1877, sounds like colonialism to me.” While another user chimed in and wrote, “This diamond was also African mined – stolen from Black people and a Black woman wasn’t able to wear it until 2021? Shame on this company.”

The controversy continues.  Tiffany was not only called out on the diamond, but also on using an unreleased Jean Michel Basquiat painting (Equals Pi,1982) in the ad.  Basquiat was known for being an artist who was dedicated to creating and not capitalizing.  His private art collection was recently purchased by Tiffany and Co. and kept under wraps until this recent campaign.  Many critics believe that Basquiat’s art’s purpose was not to be exploited for advertisements but to be used for the greater good of creativity.

As a part of their collaboration with Beyoncé and Jay Z, Tiffany & Co. have pledged to give $2 million to Historically Black Universities and Colleges (HBCUs) for scholarships and internships.

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