Skip to comments.Why Diamonds?
Posted on 12/02/2004 2:40:42 PM PST by swilhelm73
Feb. 14 On Valentine's Day, what's the very best way to tell someone you love them?
In one of the elegant black-and-white ads run by the DeBeers diamond cartel, a distinguished man announces solemnly: "I love this woman!" But there's a better way to say it, the ad suggests: Give her a diamond. Or a bunch of them. And she'll love you back.
That's what the man in the ad does and it gets quite a reaction: "Oh, I love this man! I love him, I love him, I love him!" says his lucky lover.
Which makes me ask: Why a diamond? Why not a ruby or an emerald, or what the heck a tractor, a toaster or a kitten?
Why did diamonds get to be the love and marriage thing? Why do couples everywhere who wish to declare their love go out and pay big bucks for diamonds?
Is It Because Theyre Rare?
One reason I was given is that diamonds are so scarce.
But Donna Bergenstock, a marketing professor at Muhlenberg College, points out their scarcity is a myth, one created long ago by DeBeers, the South African company that's dug up most of the world's diamonds.
"There are billions of dollars of diamonds sitting in vaults in London, in South Africa that DeBeers specifically keeps off the market in order to artificially raise the price of diamonds," she says.
The supply is so vast that if DeBeers hadn't controlled the world market for decades, diamonds would be much cheaper.
"The diamond is really just a piece of carbon. It's just a rock," says Bergenstock.
The Power of Marketing
So why is this rock a symbol of love? Because DeBeers told us it was.
Since 1940, DeBeers' brilliant ad campaign has been convincing Americans that diamonds mean love.
According to Bob Garfield of Advertising Age magazine, the DeBeers campaign is one of the most effective ad campaigns of all time.
"Unlike most advertising, people just completely bought it," Garfield says. "It created out of whole cloth the notion that at your engagement you must give your intended a diamond."
Years of listening to this propaganda has convinced us that giving diamonds is an age-old tradition.
This is just a sales pitch. In the 1930s, when my parents were married, it wasn't customary for men to give women diamond rings.
It wasn't just ads. DeBeers cleverly lends diamonds to celebrities and movie stars.
The rest of us have to pay for our diamonds and DeBeers is very specific about how much men should spend. "How else can two months' salary last forever?" the company's ads say.
DeBeers' message is "the bigger the diamond, the more you love her," says Bergenstock.
Are They So Special?
Is it really just a sales pitch, or is there really something special about diamonds, a sparkle that makes them unique?
We tested that idea. We went to Grand Central Station in New York with two rings. One was a piece of cubic zirconia, worth about a dollar. The other was a $10,000 diamond.
I asked people which they liked more.
Most people could not tell the difference. Of dozens of people we asked, nearly half picked the cubic zirconia.
Yet women told us, even if they had preferred the look of the imitation, they'd still rather be given the diamond. "It just makes you feel like you're special," said one woman. "I know what I want on my finger, and it has to be the real thing."
We'll spend more for a rock because a South African cartel has run a great ad campaign? Apparently we will.
Give Me a Break!
Now it happens that the producer and editor of this story, and I, are men. So maybe we're missing something. I'm curious what women will say on the message board
I don't know. I like buying diamonds because it means that somewhere, someone was killed, probably in a war of some kind, because I bought one.
I'm mean. Deal with it. ;)
Oaky - I'll be the first to admit it: I LOVE pretty stone and shiny sparkly objects. But my husband and I custom designed a matching set of large rose-gold bands for ourselves MINUS the diamond for me. Why? Mainly because of the justice issues surrounding the mining of diamonds at the time - plus I thought they were overpriced.
I still love stones, but not at the expense of my conscience...
I too have Magpie Syndrome, but I have found that fake diamonds make me just as happy, have fewer flaws and cause me to cry less when I loose them in the fish pond.
I HATE that commercial.
For one reason only. When the man announces his love for this woman by yelling it out loud in a public square, her response is, "Oh stop. You're being foolish." or something akin to that.
Only when he produces a box with an expensive trinket in it does she start to gush and coo, "Oooh, I love this man."
Cz's are just as pretty and a hell of alot cheaper!
A quad 3.4 gHz Xeon box or a 60" widescreen LCD TV works fine for me.
As far as the 'why' goes, besides the advertising I think it is a combination of symbolism and part of the constant testing of men by women.
Any woman who bases her worth on the size of the diamond her fiance can buy her is a fool. And any woman who judges a man based on the size of the diamond he can buy her isn't worth the price of a cubic zirconia.
When my husband and I married 15 years ago, he was too poor to buy me an engagement ring at all. We bought each other a simple gold band and had a very modest wedding (paid for in full by my husband and me). I shudder to think how foolish I would have been if I'd passed him up simply because he was poor. I would have missed out on the best gift from God I've ever received. A diamond is just a fancy rock. A loving husband is a jewel beyond compare.
As for the diamond to cubic zirconia comparison, the same could be said for any natural stone compared to a synthetic variant (the synthetic should actually look "better" because it is less likely to contain flaws). The same argument coould also apply to an original painting versus a reproduction.
Did you ever hear Larry the Cable Guy do his take off on DeBeers? (I think it was him.) Totally hysterical!
Having been married 22 years and having only a plain gold band (no money back then for anything else), I am toying with the idea of a ring "enhancement" as it's called.
If I take the plunge, I will be getting synthetic stones, not cubic zirconia but lab stones. I personally can't tell the difference and the synthetic stones I can afford are actually better looking than natural diamonds in my price range.
This way, I can spend more on updating my setting. So, not all women are dying for the real thing. Actually, when you think about it, diamonds aren't all that pretty compared to colored stones.
Diamond buyers=Sentimental............NOT an investment!
It's mostly the latter.
And a helluva lot more useful.
I know one girl who'd like diamond-inlay on her CZ.
But I'm with you, plain CZs are perferable.
How very wise. And a husband who values thrift above incurring huge debt to impress others is indeed a jewel.
I am SO blessed to have him! He's the most perfect man in the world. He only has one little bitty flaw - he can't pass up old automobiles or motors, etc., and whenever he finds one dirt-cheap he buys it to "fix up someday for one of our boys." I really don't mind, though. He works long hours in harsh conditions and always provides for us. I'm just happy he has a hobby he enjoys!
How right you are. I hate that commercial too. Pretentious "love" like that is sickening.
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