Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Diamonds are Bunk

The event of my engagement to be married did not fall along conventional lines. I was a student, saving as much money as I could to make it stretch far enough to complete my tuition payments for my bachelor’s degree. I was paying for it myself with some inheritance, and money I earned. By the time my future bride and I decided that we should indeed marry, my bank account was running mighty thin. I moved into a cheaper apartment (a dungeon actually), deferred maintenance on my car, scammed free meals where I could, and watched my account dwindle in spite of working hard and living cheap.

That was no great problem for me really. I am somewhat abstemious by nature, and I was young and had no great expectation of wealth. I love fine things, but many of the things I consider fine are either not the same as what other people hold dear, or simply cost comparatively little. The problem was the diamond.

I will not explain here how much trouble it caused that I could not afford to by a “proper” diamond engagement ring. Certainly the so-called standard of a ring costing several months salary was out of reach. Even then I suspected that the whole diamond engagement ring thing was a scam. Yet it was hard for my fiancĂ©e to deal with people’s reactions when she told them she was engaged, and yet had no hardware to show for it. I eventually did purchase a ring (a sapphire flanked by two small diamonds), at some hardship. Suffice it to say that it was approaching the level of being a dealbreaker. I remember feeling put upon and trapped by some kind of worldwide conspiracy that had hoodwinked the world into thinking that a clear stone (undistinguishable from a piece of broken glass by most people) had been declared, arbitrarily, the sole indicator of honorable intent. The work, and sweat and struggle, I was putting in to earn the money so that we could actually be married counted for little or nothing. The abandonment of long held goals and the joyful and purposeful reordering of my life to align with the goal of marriage was not counted particularly important. The stone was the thing. It seemed that rather than marriage itself being the sacrament, the bauble had become the sacrament. It just seemed wrong.

Now 22 years later, I read an article in Atlantic that vindicates me. Read it here.   The article was originally published in 1982. I dearly wish I had read it then. I might not have gotten into less trouble, but I would have had more to stand on than a sneaking suspicion that I was being flim-flammed.

Turns out it’s a scam. It’s all a big swindle. Diamonds are just rocks after all. My marriage has lasted longer than our diamond, and is worth infinitely more than any rock I could buy. I knew it would turn out that way in the end, but it sure caused me a lot of trouble at the time. I have no love for DeBeers. The bastards.

1 comment:

The Scylding said...

And gold is just shiny yellow metal, and platinum too.

The value of these things are culturally determined. From a utilitarian pov, they are all over priced. And from the same pov, so is a Rembrandt painting.

But I would hold onto diamonds/gold/great art any day as opposed to writs on subprime morgtage debts...