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... even If They Really Want to Give You One
(Cross-posted to Wordpress 8-20-2011)

1. You’ve Been Psychologically Conditioned To Want a Diamond

The diamond engagement ring is a 63-year-old invention of N.W.Ayer advertising agency. The De Beers diamond cartel contracted N.W.Ayer to create a demand for what are, essentially, useless hunks of rock.

2. Diamonds are Priced Well Above Their Value

The De Beers cartel has systematically held diamond prices at levels far greater than their abundance would generate under anything even remotely resembling perfect competition. All diamonds not already under its control are bought by the cartel, and then the De Beers cartel carefully managed world diamond supply in order to keep prices steadily high.

3. Diamonds Have No Resale or Investment Value

Any diamond that you buy or receive will indeed be yours forever: De Beers' advertising deliberately brain-washed women not to sell; the steady price is a tool to prevent speculation in diamonds; and no dealer will buy a diamond from you. You can only sell it at a diamond purchasing center or a pawn shop where you will receive a tiny fraction of its original "value."

4. Diamond Miners are Disproportionately Exposed to HIV/AIDS

Many diamond mining camps enforce all-male, no-family rules. Men contract HIV/AIDS from camp sex-workers, while women married to miners have no access to employment, no income outside of their husbands and no bargaining power for negotiating safe sex, and thus are at extremely high risk of contracting HIV.

5. Open-Pit Diamond Mines Pose Environmental Threats

Diamond mines are open pits where salts, heavy minerals, organisms, oil, and chemicals from mining equipment freely leach into ground-water, endangering people in nearby mining camps and villages, as well as downstream plants and animals.

6. Diamond Mine-Owners Violate Indigenous People’s Rights

Diamond mines in Australia, Canada, India and many countries in Africa are situated on lands traditionally associated with indigenous peoples. Many of these communities have been displaced, while others remain, often at great cost to their health, livelihoods and traditional cultures.

7. Slave Laborers Cut and Polish Diamonds

More than one-half of the world’s diamonds are processed in India where many of the cutters and polishers are bonded child laborers. Bonded children work to pay off the debts of their relatives, often unsuccessfully. When they reach adulthood their debt is passed on to their younger siblings or to their own children.

8. Conflict Diamonds Fund Civil Wars in Africa

There is no reliable way to insure that your diamond was not mined or stolen by government or rebel military forces in order to finance civil conflict. Conflict diamonds are traded either for guns or for cash to pay and feed soldiers.

9. Diamond Wars are Fought Using Child Warriors

Many diamond producing governments and rebel forces use children as soldiers, laborers in military camps, and sex slaves. Child soldiers are given drugs to overcome their fear and reluctance to participate in atrocities.

10. Small Arms Trade is Intimately Related to Diamond Smuggling

Illicit diamonds inflame the clandestine trade of small arms. There are 500 billion small arms in the world today which are used to kill 500,000 people annually, the vast majority of whom are non-combatants.

Scott Adams of Dilbert fame also weighed in on the issue, albeit with a slightly lighter tone: http://dilbert.com/strips/comic/1992-07-12/.

In addition, here is an article from Atlantic's February 1982 issue that deal with the core issues - and since then, things have only gotten worse.

"The diamond invention is far more than a monopoly for fixing diamond prices; it is a mechanism for converting tiny crystals of carbon into universally recognized tokens of wealth, power, and romance. To achieve this goal, De Beers had to control demand as well as supply. Both women and men had to be made to perceive diamonds not as marketable precious stones but as an inseparable part of courtship and married life." (February 1982 ATLANTIC MAGAZINE)

Because of the steep markup on diamonds, individuals who buy retail and in effect sell wholesale often suffer enormous losses. For example, Brod estimates that a half-carat diamond ring, which might cost $2,000 at a retail jewelry store, could be sold for only $600 at Empire [Diamonds Corporation]. (ibid.)

I'm truly grateful that the goodwoman of my house doesn't like diamonds, but trends to less conventional tastes - this is what she begged for as a wedding band:

Many thanks to Paul Taylor for the link to this article.

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Dec. 12th, 2011 03:53 am (UTC)
Blood Diamond was enough for me. If a future love interest of mine wants one, she'll have to buy it herself or look to someone else.
Dec. 12th, 2011 02:35 pm (UTC)
why not just buy a Canadian or Australian diamond - a BHP stone, Polar Bear, Maple Leaf or Argyle? Just because MOST of the precious gems (not just diamonds) are unethical ... doesn't mean they all are.
Dec. 12th, 2011 04:16 pm (UTC)
Well, #1-3 still apply.
Dec. 12th, 2011 05:19 pm (UTC)
not really - again it's mostly hyperbole.

ANY gem is a worthless hunk of rock .. GOLD is a worthless hunk of rock. Unless someone is willing to pay for it.

Whatever the history of the tradition - as long as people are willing to pay for it - IT HAS VALUE. Leaving aside the whole usefulness as an industrial tool thing too.

The point is that NO jewellery has inherent value beyond the decorative and the sentimental. Picking on diamonds is easy. But rubies sapphires emeralds moonstone amethyst and jasper ... it's all no different.

DeBeers might have once been able to artificially control the market - and while they do have some large stakes still they're certainly far from the only game in town.

Commodities of ALL ilk fluctuate wildly in their value at any given time and as a result of myriads of factors. That's why buying them as an investment is called "speculating". Again - can't single diamonds out on this one, and you can't really call them valueless or overpriced.

There are OVERPRICED ways of purchasing your diamond (or any gem or jewellery) - the chain store at your local mall of americas being the number one way to overpay. But anyone who doesn't do some research and negotiating, makes a major purchase from the national chain at the local mall of the americas is probably gonna get hosed on anything.

Point is - if you don't like diamonds, don't BUY diamonds. Any girl worth having isn't gonna put the relationship on ice at the price of a rock. OTOH, if she likes em, if she loves em, if it MEANS a lot to her - are you gonna hurt her feelings over some hyperbolic sense of 'doing the right thing' that's really all talk and no real research?
Dec. 12th, 2011 02:32 pm (UTC)
all of the above is TRUE

Of some diamonds.

There are a lot of ethical stones available out there, you need to learn how to shop for a stone. Most people don't - but that doesn't mean all diamonds are bad. Nor does it mean that every OTHER kind of stone is ethical either - there are a lot of non diamond blood stones on the market as well. I find the article to be a bit of hyperbole.

Personally, I find most diamonds pretty boring, and a stone that really IS pretty (oh say like a nice Australian Argyle) is so far out of my price range as to make it not worth even worrying about.

The engagement ring I picked out was far more to my taste - it also had ethical stones.
Dec. 12th, 2011 05:09 pm (UTC)
Another voice on ethical stoned can be heard here: http://www.minesandcommunities.org/article.php?a=9094. A sampler:

"So conflict-free doesn't take into consideration the contamination and pollution of air, water and land, often in some of the most pristine places held sacred to indigenous peoples the globe over, the damage to watersheds and the complexity of "fixing" the ecological damage left in its wake. Persistent problems left after the short life of the mine is over, of strip-mining or deep underground mining, will be left for our children to endure. The impact to quality of ecological life is serious."

In the end, the consumer is at choice. I collect some things that have high prices and very little resale value unless one finds just the right buyer, but I do it because I really like them. Buying a diamond doesn't mean one us a horrid person, but it's good to have access to all the facts so one can make an informed decision.
Dec. 12th, 2011 05:26 pm (UTC)
"So conflict-free doesn't take into consideration the contamination and pollution of air, water and land, often in some of the most pristine places held sacred to indigenous peoples the globe over, the damage to watersheds and the complexity of "fixing" the ecological damage left in its wake. Persistent problems left after the short life of the mine is over, of strip-mining or deep underground mining, will be left for our children to endure. The impact to quality of ecological life is serious."

Yep, yep and yep. And again - NOT JUST DIAMONDS... I just get tired of the "ZOMG DIAMONDS ARE DE EBIL!". No better no worse, ... well actually probably better because of all the noise and gum flapping that happens about diamonds it's easier than ever to track where they came from. I know where my amethyst came from, but a lot of people who get all "d'ebil!" about diamonds, have ZERO idea where and how their amber came from - but still they get smug and sanctimonious about it because it's not an evil blood diamond.

Just a vote for balance in discussion of these things
Dec. 12th, 2011 07:18 pm (UTC)
Speaking as someone who has NEVER received any type of jewelry more expensive then a $50 Black Hills gold ring from my own parents. I would have to say defiantly I am NOT programed to receive any kind of rock from any person. If some one gave me a CZ I'd treat it priceless. I would treat a diamond the same way. If they thought enough of me to buy me a ring they would know me well enough to know what to buy for me.

My point is De Beers didn't make the demand for these rocks. Society bought into it and started buying them. As long as there is a market, they are gonna sell them. Just telling people not to buy them isn't enough in a "Me first, greed dominated" world that we live in. People and society need to change before we can change the world.

Dec. 13th, 2011 06:00 pm (UTC)
Diamonds have their uses... if you can't scratch glass with it I have no use for it, however.
My dad had a gold signet ring (never had it engraved, strangely)- I recall him folding bus tickets really small and sticking them under it. I'm not one for jewellery - electronics people what work with high voltages shouldn't wear glorified contacts anyways, but I feel constricted. And I wouldn't want to put holes in anything.....
Dec. 13th, 2011 06:01 pm (UTC)
Three cheers for Gerald Ratner!


The Old Wolf

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