Valentines Day, Engagement rings, Diamonds and their marketed success

The above is a commercial (1997) is by the De Beers cartel entitled ‘A Diamond is Forever’. Being as old as it is, and myself being even older, I listen to this and I remember with fondness that feeling which was at the time indued upon me; such nice music, silhouettes of a loving couple. With these ideas of love, of pleasing another, it isn’t difficult to see how the media can shape our minds and promote certain unorthodox behaviors, one of them being the need to spend two months salary at the beginning of what is often a financially difficult time: marriage, when two persons and their wealth, debts, and financial responsibilities become as one.

Is this right to buy a diamond ring, what are the origins of this tradition, and how are they made?


Diamond Marketing, the quick and dirty – science.howstuffworks

With Valentine’s Day now behind us, and having seen first hand the ensuing chaos, I am here considering other such norms which socially mandate romance, as one might a government holiday. Far from being benign, the occasion as it occurred around myself in the city prompted crisis-level lines at liquor stores, flower shops, and anywhere that cards were sold. Indeed, a hushed fervor of liquor, chocolate and rose pollen spread through everyone around me as if this were the day before, so as to be the back story for, the television show The Walking Dead.

I even saw a man crying into his hands on a crowded subway car, his shoulders rhythmically heaving as the strange biological process of crying took him over from head, to heart, to toe. Beyond his socially constructed resolve to keep himself together, this date (February the 14th) had arrived, and so him and most everyone else stewing in the same social ether broke into a frenzy of expectations.

That something so inert and seemingly contrived can have such a profound and sometimes negative affect on us is a little bewildering, a little concerning.

"A drawing depicts the death of St. Valentine — one of them, anyway. The Romans executed two men by that name on Feb. 14 of different years in the 3rd century A.D." - Hulton Archive/Getty Images [Arnie Seipel/NPR]

“A drawing depicts the death of St. Valentine — one of them, anyway. The Romans executed two men by that name on Feb. 14 of different years in the 3rd century A.D.” – Hulton Archive/Getty Images [Arnie Seipel/NPR]

The Dark Origins Of Valentine’s Day – NPR

Although I can see some utility in Valentine’s day, that the lazier, more inept among us may be stirred to remember that they ought to be loving and charitable (in both the emotional and physical sense) toward their lover, even if only for the day. Moreover, though the image of the aforementioned crying gentleman may speak to the contrary, it also seems good that it spurs those who are shy, or who themselves are unable to think of a motive sufficient to rationalize their bridging of intent with action toward the fulfillment of their longings, the pursuit of what they desire. As this is what the good life is about, in one large respect, it seems to me to be a good thing if taken not too seriously (read, grievously).

As per the social norms and expectations of courting rituals, though Valentine’s Day is often scoffed at, that of the diamond ring as a symbol of commitment and financial strength persists.

A ring seems nice, even appropriate to give to someone special as a symbol of commitment or some such sentiment. But to invest so much on what is essentially sentiment incarnate? Really? It seems awfully impractical. Why not put that money toward property, a vehicle, prospective child’s savings account, or some such necessity. Excessive weddings also. Seems that money could be spent on better things, toward the end of a strong, authentic and enduring relationship.

Splitting the cost of a diamond ring seems better insofar as it is more egalitarian, but as the couple is getting married… as per the adage ‘me casa es su casa’, whether both pay for it, or one partner pays for it, they both draw from their combined pool of funds. This money is like fat before a long and trying winter. It is energy which they will sustain the loving enterprise which stands before them in time like a too-tall obelisk threatening to crush them if they do not play house to the degree expected of boys and girls (or any such combination) thrust into the venture of adulthood, marriage, and potential parenthood.

Diamonds, being as expensive and hyped as they are, what are they exactly ?
The Diamond – Wikipedia

Pink Floyd – Shine On You Crazy Diamond

With the advancements of synthetic diamond production, though less popular among brides, one can even have a diamond made from the remains of a loved one.

But why, why do we spend so much on something of (practically speaking) such low significance?

Wedding Rings : The Origin of Engagement Rings
(No doubt the propagandist history)

Some views against this idea of engagement rings, and diamonds generally.

Why Engagement Rings Are a Scam – College Humor

“The Rise and Fall of Diamonds”: Edward Jay Epstein

Diamonds are WORTHLESS

Documentary “Diamonds are not forever”

Some further words on the matter – Diamonds are bullshit

And the industry affects the local level significantly – Dredging and Digging for Diamonds in Liberia

When this socio-economic phenomenon of the west (prevalent worldwide today, as is western culture), touches the people who live where these diamonds are extracted, there have been, and can be, serious consequences, namely the blood diamond, conflict diamond, converted diamond, hot diamond, or war diamond – Wikipedia

A dramatized (and quite good) Hollywood film on the matter: Blood Diamond, film 2006

How do you avoid conflict or ‘blood’ diamonds? –

Film (not that one) Blood Diamonds

And so the other side of the issue, on the positive value of diamonds.

Public Lecture—The Mysteries of Diamonds: Bizarre History, Amazing Properties, Unique Applications

David Liu of The Knot: The Engagement Ring Shopping Experience
(A panel of industry and diamond ring consumers speaking on a the marketing side of the issue.)

Food for thought, as we move forward through life, and we move closer to others to whom there is a special and reverent connection. When our needles and theirs, to whom the tempo is compatible, come together, and over time we lead congruent grooves in the record of time, perhaps a ring is a gesture suitable to capture the romance in a material instantiation. Ought it be diamond? Expensive? These are conclusions that one would hope are apparent in the dialect of love between the two. If the object which one chooses to symbolize love is insufficient for the other, this, in my opinion, would be a red flag. If the love is good, the ring, in the larger scheme of things is inconsequential.

If the object symbolizes what is desired, what is promised, then to hold that which symbolizes above that which is symbolized is to be a fool and not merely a fool in love.

Take care,

– J

About Ossington

I often think but seldom share these thoughts. And if the product of my thinking is to affect anything but my own sense of satisfaction, then surely it must be shared. Here you may try to know what I believe to know.
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