Girls Need New Friends

posted 6/28/02

"Diamonds are a girl's best friend", the marketing droids take every opportunity to tell you. "Diamonds are forever".
Many jewelers find this troubling. I find it troubling. You should find it troubling.
Now, I've got nothing against diamonds. Well..
Except for the fact that their prices are fixed by an international organization, the people who mine the diamonds are treated poorly, and the fact that they just aren't that exciting of gemstones, I have nothing against diamonds.
Yes, diamonds are traditional, for wedding rings. And many women wear diamond earrings. But WHY? We've largely done away with corsets, and they were traditional. More and more women are going to college (and good for them!) - but that's not very traditional. In the Victorian era, jet was the most popular stone in jewelry - but just try and find a new jet necklace today. So why do diamonds persist? Why do so many people find diamonds attractive?
Because they're told to. They're told, every day, by billboards and newspapers and magazines and radio commercials and that altar of commercialism, the television, how wonderful diamonds are. And, like all the other lies that society is quietly fed, they swallow this one, too.
Yes, diamonds have a very few good points. They sparkle, somewhat, in good quality stones. And they're fairly indestructible. And they're a safe "investment", though almost never bought for that purpose. But that's about it.
A: Rough diamond prices are fixed by the Diamond Producers Association and the Diamond Trading Company. They sell large lots of rough stones at fixed prices to a few hundred bourses and wholesalers, who in turn sell to manufacturers at set prices. This is done to intentionally maintain the high value of diamonds, and ensure the high profitability of the business.
B: Diamond prices are, for what you get, very high. This is in part due to price fixing, as well as to the industry-standard practice of "triple keystoning"; a jewelry store selling a $1200 diamond paid around $400 for it. A good-quality (G or H color, VS) diamond of about one-quarter carat sells retail for perhaps $1000. A similar quality quarter-carat ruby sells for about $100, an emerald of that size for about $150, and a white sapphire, very similar in appearance to a diamond, for about $35. Even a good-quality tanzanite, the wonder stone of the 1990's, sells for about $70 for a quarter-carat stone. No other natural stone can approach the cost of diamond.
C: What's the inherent appeal? A very expensive diamond is a mostly colorless, somewhat sparkling stone. And it's small. With the exception of colored diamonds, which are regarded as being imperfect and having little value, all diamonds pretty much look the same. A diamond gives you precious little stone for your hard-earned dollar (or euro, or yen, or pound). The only real appeal for diamonds is entirely artificial - people want them because they're told to. A diamond is not "a girl's best friend". Many things could vie for the honor[1], but not diamonds. And diamonds are not "forever". A good smack with a sledge hammer will shatter most any diamond[2], and the bits left over can be consumed by heating in a blow-torch and then dropping into liquid oxygen. Many things are forever[3], but diamonds aren't.

So what are you to do? Fancy something pretty on your finger (or that of someone you care for)? Don't want to buy a diamond? Good lad. But, since the number of other precious stones you can name can be counted on one hand, and in your old age you're beginning to suspect you might not get a fair answer at your local Wal-Mart's jewelry counter, you need some advice, eh? Read on.
If you're a traditionalist[4], dead-set on something white and sparkly, but modern enough to not want a diamond, there are choices. There's white sapphire, for instance. With the money you could spend on a small diamond, you can get a quite large sapphire and be able to afford a rather less anemic ring than those diamonds are usually found in. Or there are white topazes. Or, perish the thought, cubic zirconia. Good luck finding one, but there are white, real (not-cubic, not manmade) zircons out there. They're rather like honest politicians; be very suspicious when you find them.
There is, or should be, at any rate, nothing wrong with coloured stones. Rubies are quite nice, not so inexpensive as to make you look cheap, and rather more impressive looking than diamonds. Emeralds are nice, for those with the complexion to wear them. Sapphires come in pretty much every color under the sun, and are a bit cheaper than diamonds. Tanzanite is rather overdone, and escalating in price; you'll pay dearly for a good one, but a poor one can be had quite cheaply.
So you're going to pop the question, or it's an anniversary, and you need a ring[5}. What to do? Big business wants you to buy diamonds. Do you obey? Or do you take a trip to your town's independant jeweler, and investigate the possibility of a large colored stone in a substantial ring? It, as ever, is up to the individual to decide. But you need sufficient information to make an educated choice, to think; something big business and their media mouthpieces don't want you to do.

[1]: Including telephones, chocolate, purses, prozac, vibrators, and of course, other women.
[2]: And, indeed, most other things, too.
[3]: Such as death, stupidity, and the national debt.
[4]: Or just want someting that "goes with everything".
[5]: At least, you think you need a ring. Men...


All Contents of BUGGRIT.COM are (C) 2002 - 2004 M. Gilday. All Rights Reserved. No portion may be reproduced in whole or in part without the express written permission of the owner.