1 Jun 2009

Thousands line up for free diamonds in Japan

8:10 pm on 1 June 2009

Thousands of people queued for hours on Monday outside a luxury jeweller in Tokyo that was offering an unusual promotion to ease the recession blues - a giveaway of 5,000 free diamonds.

A queue stretched for several city blocks from early morning as people waited for Mauboussin in the fashionable Ginza district to open at 9am local time, eager to get one of the 0.1 carat rocks, worth about Y5,000 ($NZ82) each.

Atsuko Aoki, 65, said she and her retired husband arrived at 6am to get one of the precious stones being offered as a special promotion for the jeweller's recently-opened Japanese flagship store.

The free offer was part of a "bright campaign to drive away the recession", with the company also offering to set the diamonds in rings and necklaces for customers who want to pay for the jewellery.

However, happy mood turned sour for some when it became clear that more than 5,000 people had shown up and many would miss out, with some customers berating shop staff about the slow pace of the queue.