Engagement. Wedding. Marriage. These three things have been steadily ingrained in the female psyche throughout history. Young girls grow up dreaming about their “big day,” what kind of dress they will wear, who will be standing next to them and of course, the perfect diamond.
Cut, carat and clarity, the three most important factors for any engagement. In the majority of cases if a woman says she doesn’t have a specific engagement ring picked out, she’s lying… and if you choose incorrectly, she may never mention it, but she will probably be somewhat disappointed.
My dream ring used to be a two carat square-cut emerald on a platinum band, but that has changed. Over the last few years, as the cost of living continues to rise, I have realized if I do get engaged, I would rather have something tangible to share with my future husband than simply a shiny dollar sign sparkling on my finger.
The funny thing is, we are led to believe that engagement rings have been an important symbolic gesture for hundreds of years. While it is true that diamond rings were popular with aristocrats dating as far back as 1477, when the first diamond engagement ring was commissioned for Archduke Maximillian of Austria. Yet, it wasn’t until 1947 that diamond engagement rings became an expected token during a marriage proposal.
This change, like everything in the capitalist economy, was completely thanks to a very aggressive marketing campaign by the De Beers Company. In the 1870s De Beers had found massive deposits of diamonds in Africa. These diamonds could be mined cheaply by local workers, and with cheap labour comes cheaper prices, allowing a much larger marketable audience.
After the depression had vastly slowed sales on luxury items, De Beers decided to launch one of the most recognizable marketing campaigns of the 20th century, and so the slogan was born: “Diamonds are forever.”
By 1950, only three years had past since the marketing campaign had begun, yet diamond sales had already increased by 50 per cent, a massive victory for the company who held, and still holds, the monopoly on diamond mining and production. But as the demand for diamond rings continues to grow and as celebrities continue to flaunt outrageously large rocks, the average price of an engagement ring continues to grow as well.
In just over ten years the price has risen from $1,500 to $5,000, an over 300 per cent increase for a simple piece of jewelry.
Love is forever, diamonds are just compressed carbon and thats why I’ve decided instead of forcing my partner to spend a massive amount of money on a ring, I’d rather it be put towards a down payment on a house… or perhaps a big screen TV and a nice fridge for my snacks. We can buy the ring later when we are more financially stable… that is if I even still want one.