Diamonds are Forever Bullshit

It is my extreme opinion that Diamonds are bullshit for a couple of reasons. One is the way they are obtained and the other is the “purpose” they serve.

The way they are obtained

I’m just going to write some of the bare facts that I have gleaned from obvious sources. This is NOT in-depth investigative journalism… or even research. I’m just scraping this together to make a point. It’s not comprehensive, I’ll be the first to admit.

So, diamonds are largely mined in Africa, where, historically at least, much of the profits go to fuel wars against the people. Ever heard of “blood diamonds”? According to Wikipedia, a blood diamond is a “diamond mined in a war zone and sold to finance an insurgency, invading army’s war efforts, or a warlord’s activity” and a large number of diamonds have been mined this way.

So, that’s not really surprising. Nobody in the west is ever surprised about African warlords doing these things. But who would ever have thought that transnational corporations are also involved.

“But it is not just African warlords who profit from this bloody trade. According to Amnesty Magazine,  “Arms merchants, feeding on the diamond trade, bankrolled local armies and made fortunes for transnational corporations.” (Wiki)

“a fortune in raw diamonds have made their way from the deadly jungles of Sierra Leone onto the rings and necklaces of happy lovers the world over. Many of the prisoner-laborers who work Sierra Leone’s open-pit mines end up in shallow graves, executed for suspected theft, for lack of production, or simply for sport.” -Amnesty Magazine.

Happy lovers the world over. Happy white lovers flaunting their diamonds. But at what cost, my friends, AT WHAT COST?

A website called realdiamondfacts.org describes the horrors of the diamond industry.

Now, according to various other sources, conflict-free diamonds have become plentiful, thanks to “The Kimberly Process” which was a certification procedure developed by the UN, that supposedly ensures that only ethically produced diamonds are exported legally.

A website called diamondfacts.org outlines all the benefits that diamonds bring to Africa. This is the website of an organization called the World Diamond Council. The WDC is made up of… diamond manufacturers, mining companies, and diamond retailers. So, draw your own conclusions from that.

If, according to the WDC, diamond production is now “ethical” in that maybe people aren’t getting shot, it’s entirely possible that worker conditions are still horrendous.

Having said that, worker conditions in all kinds of manufacturing industries are horrendous. That must be acknowledged.

The diamond industry seems to me more insidious than others, for reasons I am about to explain…

Wait, why do we really need diamonds again?

The whole culture of diamonds truly… disgusts me.  I’m just not down with diamonds, even if they are ethically gotten. One word folks, “marketing”.

The advertising for diamonds is something that I find completely nauseating. The subjects in the ads are “beautiful”, opulent, white women. (Okay so those are the subjects of most ads… But bear with me…) The assumption is that the diamonds have been given to the women by their handsome, rich, white husbands or suitors.

The taglines on the ads declare universal truths such as “A diamond is forever” or “Nothing says forever like diamonds”.

Diamonds are the epitome of white wealth (in modern times, it may not always have been thus). White status. Diamonds are inextricably linked with the notion of wealth. Everyone knows they are expensive. Diamonds are the ultimate symbols of western wealth and extravagance.

When you have everything you could possibly “need” in life, you then acquire expensive, “luxurious” frivolities, the likes of diamonds -if you are a woman, that is. If you are a woman that’s apparently all you want. You want diamonds from a man. The diamonds let the world know of your “elevated position” in society.

Women are told to love diamonds. They are taught that if a man really loves her, he will buy her diamonds.  Women want to wear diamonds because the diamonds symbolise their wealth and their status of being loved by a (rich!) man. The whole idea: so grotesque.

Women want diamonds because they are told they do and they covet the supposed wealth and status it gives them. and somehow this wealth and status is inextricably tied up with… love??? Diamonds are somehow considered the universal symbol of love. When did diamonds become the universal, immutable symbol of love??  What marketing genius was behind this?? How did so many women get taken in by it?

So there is the phenomenon of “engagement”. Diamonds are an important symbol of “engagement”.  A man “proposing” to a woman is expected to present her with a diamond ring. Anything less is considered second rate.

Hmmm.

First up, I want to say that I don’t really understand the purpose of “engagement” in the modern age. I think it served a role in the past when people had to get betrothed, but now I don’t know what role it serves other than to sell diamonds. If you are getting married, just get married.  Call me a cynic but “engagement” always seems to me like a corny way of maximising the attention you get for your marriage… or, as said, to sell diamonds.

Now, an interesting fact about diamonds on engagement rings is that this is a relatively modern phenomenon. (I have Beth to thank for this enlightening information. Thanks Beth.)

In the past, an engagement ring featured a ruby, which symbolised the giving of the man’s heart to his beloved. Sometime in the early half of the 20th century, the diamond industry put the hard word on Hollywood to promote diamonds to women. Diamonds were portrayed in Hollywood movies to be the most desirable stones a woman could receive. You don’t need to think hard to recall movies rife with diamond propaganda: Two notable examples are “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes” (featuring the song “Diamonds are a girl’s best friend”) and “Breakfast at Tiffanys”. All about diamonds.

Read about this phenomenon here

(A similar campaign took place in Japan, where a diamond company promoted diamonds to Japanese people making them a coveted symbol of western values. Advertising and cultural imperialism, together forever.)

We have since been fed, through Hollywood, an onslaught of propaganda promoting the romantic virtue of diamonds. Women are told to want diamonds. Men are told that women want diamonds. Men should be able to afford to buy a woman diamonds. Women should choose men who can afford to buy them diamonds.

In this way, diamonds are construed as “symbols of love” – this meaning has been given to them through advertising and Hollywood. Much successful brain-washing through advertising and Hollywood has firmly concreted this truth in the minds of women everywhere.

So I will tell you the other truth:

Diamonds are not symbols of love.

They are symbols of WEALTH. They are symbols of POWER. They are symbols of EXPLOITATION.

They are expensive rocks with blood all over them.

They are not symbols of love. The idea that diamonds are symbols of love disturbs me to the core of my being. I do not believe it or buy it. I don’t buy that crap for a second.

People create their own symbols of love that can’t be bought…  they have their own meaning that doesn’t come from advertising and clever marketing and dirty cheesy Hollywood propaganda.

-YES YOU WILL.

I would take my man wrapped in a bow for christmas any day over these useless diamond earrings.


21 responses to “Diamonds are Forever Bullshit

  1. Hear hear. Really. Hear bloody hear.

  2. you gonna get mad at champagne next?

  3. I love marketing and think advertising is an art form.
    People shouldn’t buy diamonds because of how they are mined. I agree 100%.
    Women buy- sorry- women get men to buy them diamonds because they are told to!? Fuck off stupid women. Do you really believe this?

    Exhibit A)
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P9NgtAYaLxc The shoes on my feet
    I’ve bought it
    The clothes I’m wearing
    I’ve bought it
    The rock I’m rockin’
    I’ve bought it
    ‘Cause I depend on me
    If I wanted the watch you’re wearin’
    I’ll buy it
    The house I live in
    I’ve bought it
    The car I’m driving
    I’ve bought it
    I depend on me

    Exhibit B)
    http://www.itshot.com/hip-hop-bling-diamond-gold-jewelry.aspx
    Browse our selection of Real Hip Hop Jewelry and Real Gold Diamond Bling Bling Iced Out Jewelry for both Men & Women. We are diamond jewelry manufacturers and are able to offer you the lowest wholesale price possible on men’s and women’s real gold diamond hip hop and real gold bling bling jewelry. To browse specific selections of our diamond jewelry items please click on the links: Men’s Diamond Rings, Diamond Earrings, Men’s Diamond Bracelets, Men’s Diamond Pendants, Men’s Diamond Necklaces,

    Exhibit C) Rapper 50 Cent has relished the chance to accuse his musical adversaries of not glittering like gold. http://whiteflashdiamonds.wordpress.com/2009/05/29/rappers-fake-their-bling-as-recession-hits-spending-power/

    • mick- are you arguing that women buy diamonds for themselves because they just love them and want them so bad, nothing to do with showing off that you have a rich husband, or marketing propaganda? this song you reference may be about women buying their own diamonds, but it is still a product and perpetuator of the propaganda I refer to, the idea of diamonds being coveted by women.

      women were not nearly so crazy for diamonds before the diamond industry got busy in Hollywood. beyonce or j-lo or whoever sings this song is totally buying into the ideas they have been fed about diamonds (that a gal’s gotta have’em) and solidifying it for all their fans by celebrating the fact that they have diamonds.

      im curious what your point is with the hip hop?

      the hip hop obsession with diamonds is in my mind about black rappers appropriating symbols of white wealth and power. the motivation for which is totally understandable. but still part of the same idea about diamonds being the ultimate thing to have, the ultimate signal of your worth, which i reject.

      • I am saying that your argument is very one dimensional. People in countries across the world with varying cultures buy diamonds. And to only single out white women as being the ones who actually want them is too easy. And then to say that women don’t even really want to buy them but rather have a man buy them for them seems archaic.

        • heated discush! I love it.

          I guess my argument is about my interpretation of what diamonds symbolise in western culture. by looking at how diamonds are treated and represented in popular culture, this is my analysis.

          How do you mean it is archaic to suggest that women want men to buy them diamonds? ALL of the diamond ads imply this. do you see the woman “waiting” for the diamond necklace? she is not waiting until she can save up enough from her minimum wage job to buy it for herself. oh wait, she is already probably a millionaire so she could afford to buy it if she wanted. she is waiting for a man to buy it for her.

          look at all the diamond ads on this website – every single one of them is suggesting man buys woman diamonds. http://www.coloribus.com/focus/de_beers_brilliant_ads/

  4. I guess you really hit the mark with calling this your “extreme opinions” blog!

    Yes, clearly there are many things wrong with the diamond trade. And yes diamonds are expensive and therefore the wearer then projects an (often false)level of wealth and status that non diamond wearers do not share in certain peoples eyes. I can agree with these things.

    I don’t agree that all women covet diamonds, and the supposed prestige and status and wealth wearing diamonds leads them into believing they have. Aren’t you yourself an example of this?

    Yes advertising sucks. Yes advertising something falsely and pretending that it will make your life better sucks, but that’s just the nature of advertising. Laundry detergent advertisements promise the same life altering wondrous results, but it’s a different product.

    Now, as for symbols of love. An engagement ring as a symbol of love. Well yes it can be taken that way, because you love the person who gave it to you right? It can also be seen as a symbol of ownership (I’m suprised you didn’t point that one out). But then so too can a wedding ring. Like the one you’re wearing. Is it not a symbol of your love to you? A symbol of the promise you made? Wouldn’t you be upset if you lost it?

    So why not have a diamond as a symbol of love, if it’s given with the same meaning as something like a wedding ring, or a new headband, or even a new set of windscreen wipers! (And yes, i did get given windscreen wipers once, and every time they clear my windscreen i laugh and feel love for the person who gave them to me.)

    I understand all the terrible stuff that you’ve highlighted about diamond mining, and i agree the working conditions are beyond appalling, and it’s horrifying that funds are used to fuel wars. It’s hard to impress this horror on the masses who are far removed from this reality. I even can think about it, and yes when i think about it, its terrible and i feel guilty for being someone that wears a diamond ring, someone who’s money has extended the suffering of the people who work in these mines. but it’s also easy to forget, if i don’t think about it for a while.

    I wear a diamond ring because i thought it was pretty. Because i wanted to spend a bit extra on the symbol of love that i plan on wearing for the rest of my life. At the time I wasn’t thinking about “blood diamonds”, and the conditions in which it was mined. I just wanted one. I’m a terrible product of advertising.

    I’m not quite sure what i’m trying to say. I’d like to say “go easy”, but this after all about extreme opinions. You’ve certainly made me feel uncomfortable, but not enough to forgo my diamond. I suppose i think that there is a lot more to this argument, and perhaps with all the different angles of attack you’ve made, maybe some of what you’re trying to say got lost in translation.

  5. Jewellery is an art. Yes PEOPLE just go out and buy beautiful art because they can. It’s kinda funny that you believe the ads. I don’t think you really are looking at popular culture- you are looking at one source that validates your argument which is why I showed you those other sources. I agree that those ads are sexist romantized bullshit but there is more to the story of who buys diamonds than that.

    • mick – show me a representation in the media of a diamond that is not a symbol of proud opulence. the examples you gave were totally about proud opulence. 50 cent dissing fellow rappers for not having the real thing? he is criticising them for not being rich enough, for not having the real deal. where are your alternative examples of diamonds in culture?

      as for the ads, obviously i personally dont believe the message they are telling me, i made that clear: i completely reject it. what i believe is that other women (and men) believe the message the ads tells them. thats my whole point… thats why i wrote this post, because i reject it and i want to suggest to other people that its not “the truth”.

      i dont think everyone who has a diamond is a dipshit. my “extreme opinion” is that i hate the culture of diamonds, the way they are represented in the media, the way women are supposed to drool over them. you cant deny this is what the culture tells us, through the media. i hate that culture. AND, i do think lots of women buy into that culture.

      vic – i am all about symbols of love. i love my wedding ring, which is a traditional symbol of love, and cost $16. it is not by any stretch a symbol of opulence, just a symbol of betrothal. i have no problem with that. i love that you love your windscreen wipers which were also a symbol of love. they are a symbol of love that is completely unique and creative. i am totally into that. people creating their own unique symbols of love rather than buying diamonds.

      and sure, diamonds are pretty. so are many other gemstones. but you cant deny that diamonds have this status that is elevated above other gemstones. is it because they are the hardest mineral? i dont think so, i think its because they are the most expensive. and the most successfully marketed.

      and yes, not all women are subject to this marketing, i and plenty of people i know are not sucked in by it… but it is the “general vibe” surrounding diamonds you have to admit…

      im not saying everyone who has a diamond is evil, i dont think less of you for wearing one, just saying i hate the culture of diamonds, the way they are represented in the media, and the way LOTS (but not all) of women covet them because of this propaganda. i am so sure that if you asked 100 random women if they wanted diamonds from men most would say yes, and i feel like they’d be saying yes for reasons they were often unaware of. (ie brainwashing) you know? diamonds are unequivocally associated with glamour, and glamour is about beauty and wealth. think marilyn monroe in ‘gentlemen prefer blondes’. all of these associations have a positive effect on people’s diamond-buying habits.

  6. i cant see how any of the arguement has been ‘lost in translation’, it seems pretty water tight to me, unless u r personally offended- which would never have been betty’s intention im sure.

    i guess there are examples where someone other than a lover wld buy a girl diamonds (mayb from parents for graduation or sumtin) but other than destiny’s child i doubt many women buy diamonds for themselves. i could be wrong.

    tone= not aggressive or defensive, just up for discussion, often needs clarifying on the innanets.

    cubic zirconia fo life.

  7. I feel like diamond rings are the McDonald’s of jewelry. Ubiquitous, unhealthy and unexciting.

  8. tom and I have diamonds in our rings but we made sure that they came from the Argyle diamond mine in Australia. We hope that the conditions there are better, etc etc.

  9. At the heart of this debate is the role advertising plays in the subversion of desire. Diamonds are just a good example, but you could get equally fired up about luxury cars, or hair-dye. My life is not worth living if I don’t banish my greys, carve up a pristine environment in my four wheel drive or get that big diamond ring I have always longed for. Advertising feeds on the myth of inadequacy. The idea that people will not meet some elusive standard of living without owning the product being pushed. Of all the venomous cultural memes out there advertising is the greatest enemy of individual freedom. We are losing the art of deciding for ourselves! If I ruled the world I would ban the right to advertise products and because I rule my world I do not watch television.

  10. nanoo and beth – thanks for the vote of support

    ktc – props to you and tom for a) buying ethical diamonds and b) both of you having them and not just you (ie the girl)

    rach – yeah this is very true, “the bigger picture” of advertising. but hollywood also does the exact same thing a lot of the time in movies. i find so many ads and movies offensive, diamonds seem to me particularly insidious because of the way they not only prey on insecurities but also promote this kind of gross opulence whilst perpetuating disgusting gender stereotypes. ok so most ads do that. but… i just feel that so many people are into diamonds in a dumb way. something needed to be said.

  11. Just a bit of trivia:

    The largest diamond markets are United States of America, China, Japan. Two out of three would not be classified as ‘western’.

    Some of the finest diamonds mined come from northern Canada — definitely not ‘blood diamonds’.

    I’m neither for nor against diamonds – but I do like them, in the same way I like crystal bowls – but I haven’t considered wearing a bowl on my finger yet.

  12. The general direction of the ethical debate on diamond mining is, while well-meaning I think, a little off the mark. I am only commenting on the way diamonds are obtained, not the marketing etc.

    Diamond mines provide jobs which puts food on families’ tables. Unless it is forced labour that we’re talking about (and I don’t think we are, but I could be wrong) then diamond mines constitute an opportunity for people to support their families. Although the danger or physical pain endured during the work is serious, it is irrelevant to the argument. It’s not a choice between a dangerous job and a safe job. It’s often a choice between having a job or having no job at all. Having no job is a greater suffering.

    The REAL problem is that the profits leave Africa and benefit trans-national companies, instead of being re-invested into local infrastructure. As a friend of mine put it, diamonds are to Africa what oil is to the Middle East. The difference being that the Middle East tends to profit from their resources. There needs to be greater efforts from African leaders to ensure profits go to the future of their countries. And greater restrictions on the power of big businesses. It is obviously more complex than this, and I’m not informed enough to explain what should be done.

    What would the miners do instead? It’s not a matter of laziness or not having your resume up to scratch. There arn’t many opportunities in a lot of countries. The unemployment rate is over 20% in South Africa, for example.

    An interesting book related to this is “Dead Aid” by Dambisa Moyo. It argues that trading with African countries, instead of pumping in aid, is the way for African countries to become independent in the world system. It argues that China’s presence in Africa provides jobs and economic growth in Africa, while foreign aid stunts growth and serves as a disincentive for African governments to develop infrastructure for their people.

    There are people suffering in ways I cannot imagine. My argument isn’t that it doesn’t matter. It really does matter. It’s a tragedy. And it is great that people are talking about it.

    But think about the guy who applied to work in a diamond mine, but didn’t get the job. That’s the guy we should spare a thought for.

  13. what would a girl ask for if not for a diamond necklace, diamond necklaces would always impress a girl*:*

  14. i gave my girlfriend a diamond bracelt and she was quite pleased with it `~,

  15. You’re ignorant and misinformed.
    Get an education in marketing or just comment on things you understand.

  16. Thanks for your insight fdsahadhadh

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