Posted by: gdevi | November 10, 2013

Diamonds — whose best friend?

A student sent me a link to this website; it talks about the diamond buying trend in America as engagement rings. We were talking about how commercials can manufacture “needs” that do not really exist. These are completely fake emergencies and needs; but the ad industry “psychologically” makes you feel like you need their little accessory in order for you to “fit in,” or to show how you feel about yourself, or how “your man” feels about you. Most of these fake emergencies are aimed at women in America. Some of them strike you as positively vulgar. For instance, here is a De Beers’s diamond ring ad, from one of their latest ad campaigns. (The “Waiting” one above is also theirs.) Apparently, since many women are now opting not to get married, they still want these women to buy their diamonds, even though they are no longer engagement rings or wedding rings. So they are using the discourse of autonomous, independent, free women–whatever that means–so that this demographic will buy their diamonds. It is supposed to be women’s empowerment. They have changed the story a bit, but the premise remains the same–you need a diamond to show the world what kind of woman you are. De Beers ad

It is all completely fake–the need is a carefully and consciously manufactured need, and in the case of the diamond industry, which the student is working on–diamond commercials–it is a fake need based on a fake scarcity. A diamond has no intrinsic value, which is why you can never resell a diamond. Its worth is a fake worth manufactured on the assumption that a diamond is a rare and scarce commodity. Thus the original De Beers ad — “A Diamond is Forever.” Because if you try to sell it, you won’t get anything back. The diamond cartel, managed by De Beers, the oldest and most ruthless diamond cartel in the world does not want your diamonds glutting their market. The public can only “buy” diamonds. Only de Beers can “sell” them. Apparently, in the industry parlance, this is known as the market “overhang,” — the need to stop the public from selling their diamonds back into the market. Jay Epstein who has covered the diamond industry as no other reporter has writes about it here. So from the 1920s onwards, De Beers and their New York advertising firm Ayer & Sons engaged in a carefully constructed marketing campaign aimed at women to grow a “psychological” need within women to identify their worth as spouses, and their husbands’ “love and commitment” to the marriage in terms of “diamonds.” This “psychological” manufacturing of diamond as a status symbol was done on men too, to the point where, according to the article referenced above, many men spend $5200-13500 dollars for an engagement ring. You can read about the manufacturing of the “diamond scarcity” and the “diamond mystique” in this article by Epstein.

Here are a few of the De Beers diamond ads. Shocking, aren’t they? So crude and vulgar; not much difference between marriage and prostitution. If you have heard about “nice girls doing it only on the promise of marriage, ” then see the Natan’s engagement ring ad from a few years ago. It is a wonder why this market is still in existence in these times.

Here is an “engagement ring” ad from Natan’s Diamonds.
Natan's engagement ring ad

De Beers ad 2

When I was around 16 years old I pierced my nose and got a nose-ring. My parents got me a small single diamond nose-ring. My grandmother used to wear a nose-ring and I had wanted a nose-ring just for that reason. Anyway, years later, my daughter who was maybe ten or eleven months old, she was playing with my nose, just like small babies do, pulling my nose etc, and, one day she pulled the nose-ring violently off my nose. You know the awkward strength babies have. The nose-ring came flying off my nose and flew across the room and landed somewhere on the carpet. It was a tightly woven berber carpet and it vanished somewhere in the folds of the carpet. I never found it. I am glad. I don’t like any jewelry.

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