I understand diamonds serve purposes outside of jewelry. This post only addresses jewelry.
Are diamonds special?
Yes. Diamonds have a special characteristic – they’re the hardest material on earth. Nothing can cut through diamond. Diamond can cut through anything.
What does society use diamonds for?
For the complete opposite purpose that they’re actually special for. Diamonds are decorative, a symbol of status. They never cut through anything. They stay on your finger, around your neck, or through your ear for others to see.
The engagement ring.
This type of ring is purchased by a guy to tell a girl he wants to marry her. The girl wears the ring. It doesn’t do anything aside from tell other people that she’s spoken for, and make people gush over how pretty it is.
This tradition does not go back thousands of years. It goes back less than a century, when De Beers (yes, the biggest diamond company in the world) started an ad campaign. How convenient. The company who mined 90%+ of the diamonds at the time tried to convince us that we should spend a lot on them for a made up reason, and it worked. Prior to that, diamond rings had some relevance, but not even close to today’s standard.
So how much do we spend on these rings?
The rule of thumb is three months salary. Are you shitting me? If you make $40,000, that’s a straight $10,000 on an engagement ring. What wife would want their husband to WASTE that kind of money on a ring when it could be put towards, oh I don’t know, a house? The wedding? Their future kid’s college fund? Their favorite charity? Retirement? Anything that provides more joy and practical value than an engagement ring (which is basically everything)?
I would NEVER want my future wife to spend $10,000 (or $1,000) on a made-up symbol of commitment unless we were extremely wealthy. Spending that money doesn’t prove she’s any more committed to me than she already was. I’d hope we’re getting married because we love each other, not because we’re willing to spend an insane amount of money on something that does nothing for the other person.
Also, do you know the number one thing couples fight about? Money. Shocker. Why are you wasting money on a ring if you’re going to fight about it later?
Bonus: these diamond rings don’t hold high resale value. You normally get less than half of what you spent on it if you try to trade it in.
But why do we pay so much for diamonds if they don’t do anything?
Because we’re brainwashed into thinking we have to. The demand for diamonds as jewelry is 100% artificial. It’s a made-up tradition (a $75 billion per year tradition). A couple of great business minds made up a ton of bullshit that said if you don’t buy a girl diamonds, you don’t love her. Generations of people have bought into that philosophy and diamonds are a must in this culture, and it’s bullshit.
Jewelry is a made-up way of quantifying love. If you don’t receive a nice ring, you’re not very loved. It makes those with big rings feel important, and those with small rings feel self-conscious.
What would you guess each of the rings below cost?
The ring on the left is diamond and sells for about $3,000 (pretty cheap for an engagement ring).
The ring on the right is cubic zarconia, and sells for about $100.
Would any girl even know the difference? Furthermore, would they even care? Some might care, some might not, but none of them should care. Give me one good reason for caring. Wouldn’t you rather get the $100 ring and $2900 towards your 401k than the diamond ring that looks the exact same?
Why aren’t we giving these cubic zarconia rings to each other? It’s not like people do anything with their diamond rings that this fake one can’t do.
Where does this leave me?
I don’t want to purchase expensive jewelry for anyone. Ever. I’ll spend plenty of money on other things for the people I love, but expensive jewelry is not one of them.
Will my future wife understand? If she doesn’t, would I really throw away the relationship? At the same time, do I want to marry a girl who would refuse to marry me unless I bought her a ring?
The biggest issue would be this – how do I explain to a potential father-in-law that I think engagement rings are a stupid waste of money and I’m not going to buy one for his daughter? I haven’t had to cross this bridge yet.
Could I afford a ring? Yes. But there’s a famous quote, “Be the change you want to see in the world“. This is a change I want to see in the world.