Rihanna began shooting the music video for “Diamonds” on October 21, 2012 in Los Angeles, California. It was directed by her regular collaborator Anthony Mandler, who previously directed Rihanna’s music videos for “Russian Roulette” (2009) and “Man Down” (2011). Photographs of the production were leaked on the same day; on them, Rihanna is seen wearing a white and black dress as she stands in front of a fire and looks into the camera.
Speaking to MTV News, Rihanna explained the concept behind the video explaining that with different abstract scenes she wanted to give the audience “the right emotion”.
“With every song it’s a different story, so the visuals are very specific to that story and that world. With ‘Diamonds,’ it was just a series of vignettes that we put together to help get the emotion across throughout the song ’cause the song changes and it builds, and there’s no real way that you could do that.”
Mandler also spoke about the video and its theme,
“With this one, I felt the need to create a wider landscape; almost hint at things, go into things, then get out of them, and not allow people to attach themselves to too much… they needed to feel like dream vignettes, like, when you wake up from a dream, you realize what you were dreaming about is not really what it was about, it was about something else.”
He further explained,
“And you can see what I’m getting at in terms of relating this to Rihanna’s real life, and what she’s been through. What’s truth or fiction? You know ‘Is she drowning, or is she in complete ecstasy? Are those hands coming apart, or are they finding each other?’ … we tried to bring up these deeper questions that relate to song and her life and finding beauty in chaos and finding beauty in pain and finding pain in beauty.”
On November 7, 2012, a behind-the-scenes video was posted on MTV’s official website. It featured Rihanna emerging from a trailer, wrapped in a “leopard-print” robe and heading to the shooting set. The scenes are intercut with police officers chasing armed fighters. Scenes of Rihanna standing in a deserted landscape are also shown. The music video for “Diamonds” premiered November 8, 2012, on MTV. An online streaming of the video was also made available for watching at Rihanna.MTV.com. It was digitally released on November 14, 2012 via iTunes Store.