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Diamonds are way too expensive.
Diamonds cost a lot of money. Why? Because they’re rare, you might think! But you would be wrong. At least, you wouldn’t have the entire story. In an interview with Powerline, Edward Jay Epstein, author of Have You Ever Tried to Sell a Diamond? And Other Investigations of the Diamond Trade explains that while diamonds were considered rare for a long time, a whole bunch of them were discovered in the city of Kimberley, South Africa in the late 1800s. This terrified the people of De Beers, an international corporation specializing in diamond mining and manufacturing, because a larger supply of diamonds would make the retailer’s jewelry less expensive. So what did they do? They banded together with some other mining companies and decided to stymie the release of these gems, thus limiting their supply and artificially propping up their cost. According To Business Insider, for most of the twentieth century, De Beers controlled a whopping 90 percent of diamond production, so the company was well-positioned to manipulate their cost. How whack is that?
Let’s not forget, diamonds are just rocks (actually, they’re minerals, but do you even know the difference?).
There is something pretty magnificent about a diamond. It’s super strong. Basically, what makes it special is that it’s the strongest naturally occurring mineral (a rock is the aggregate of several minerals) on the planet. It’s the purest, most concentrated form of carbon. Sexy, right? If you’re into geology or chemistry, maybe. But let’s not pretend that we have more than a high school grade understanding of those subjects. A diamond is a mineral, plain and simple. And among minerals, it’s a badass. But it’s still just a mineral.
They’re not actually forever.
You’ve heard the slogan a billion times over: A diamond is forever. Coined in 1948 by Frances Gerety, who spent 27 years writing advertising copy for De Beers, the phrase has appeared in countless jewelry ads since its inception. In 1999, Advertising Age actually named it the “slogan of the century.” As far as marketing taglines go, it’s undoubtedly sticky. And the underlying message—that a relationship sealed with the gift of a diamond is destined to last forever—is yet more alluring than any shiny gem could possibly be. But the truth is that eternities, while romantic, are impractical. And when it comes down to it, a diamond isn’t going to factor into the should-we-stick-it-out equation when things get (ahem) rocky. A diamond is no more ~*forever*~ than the average marriage. And we all know how many marriages end in divorce.
They’re not your best friend, either.
The song “Diamonds Are A Girl’s Best Friend” is downright catchy, and the image of Marilyn Monroe performing it in the film Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953) is ingrained in our collective consciousness. But the song’s message is a wee bit dated. Here’s a snapshot of the lyrics:
The French are glad to die for love
They delight in fighting duels
But I prefer a man who lives
And gives expensive jewels
A kiss on the hand
May be quite continental
But diamonds are a girl’s best friend
Quaint or disturbing, depending on how you look at it. Regardless, I think we can all agree that a slice of avocado toast makes a better friend than your average diamond.
Diamond engagement rings aren’t even a legit tradition.
De Beers would have you believe that diamond engagement rings have been gifted as symbols of love since the beginning of time. But in actuality, the “tradition” is relatively new. It began in the mid-twentieth century, when De Beers’ advertising agency, N.W. Ayer, launched a campaign on behalf of their client to link romance to diamonds. Their goal? To alter the public’s perception of how a man courts a woman, specifically by inserting diamond rings into the mix. To do this, they exploited the sexy new platform of Hollywood films, strategically placing diamonds on the hands of actresses on screen and in the pages of elitist celebrity magazines. If this makes you feel like a sucker for buying into the whole diamond engagement ring thing, which is basically the manifestation of one of the most successful ad campaigns ever, your inner ew might not be misplaced. Prior to the diamond ring craze, it was customary for a groom to present his bride with any number of non-diamond objects (even a necklace would suffice!) as a token of his undying devotion.