The Mystery begins ... De Beers Diamond font

Hello all,

In 1996, J. Walter Thompson unleased upon the world the extremely popular De Beers “Shadows” ad campaign. In their first advertisments, they used a very beautiful serif italic that caught my eye. Since then I’ve been trying to figure out what it was. I searched high and low. I posted in on usenet back then, but no one was able to help me. I even contacted J. Walter Thompson in London, who produced the ads for De Beers, but to no avail. Eventually, I let it go …

[this is where the plot thickens, to abuse a cliche]

Until a few days ago I ran across Elsner and Flake’s Caslon Rough and thought the italic bore a strange resemblance to my mystery diamond font. When I put them next to each other I was shocked! They’re uncannily close save for the “v.” This would have been perfect and the search could have ended right there were it not for the “roughness” inherent in the face. This led me to think of it as a Caslon, which I had done before but with no satisfactory results.
Now I ask you for help in decoding the mystery … Any ideas greatly appreciated.

The first sample was scanned from a De Beers print ad.

The second is a sample of Elsner Flake Caslon Rough.


I wouldn’t be surprised if they used a Caslon italic and
replaced the ‘v’ with the italic from another serif feeling
that the Caslon ‘v’ is too ‘u’.

Amd it needn’t be rough. Check out the Caslons at

Thanks Steven. I have checked out many (all?) of the Caslons over at The problem is that most Caslons don’t have that kind of gentle swoop on top of ascenders on the italic. Caslon Rough did, which was surprising!

You may be looking at a modified Minion ‘v’, for instance.

Ahh, now the gentle swoop I can’t explain.

Thanks Tiffany. The problem though is not simply modifying Caslon Rough—though your observation of the ‘y’ is a good one and one I hadn’t thought of—but to find the “smooth” (non processed) variant of the Italic. Elsner and Flake do not have a “regular” version of this Caslon to my knowlege. Their version of the rough was created in the 1980s from source materials that were non-digital, and likely of ATF origin (thanks to Ms. Elsner for this info). I am hoping someone here may know where to find the digital version of this source typeface—the one that was used, and perhaps modified, for the De Beers Ads.