“Diamonds are a girl’s best friend” – it’s a phrase that’s been sung (literally) throughout history since the 50s when it became popularized by Marilyn Monroe. But even before then, the desirability of diamonds was firmly cemented in American culture.
Why do we love diamonds? Is it the sparkle? The symbolism? Knowing how the diamond industry became the giant of the gem world will tell you a lot about how we perceive diamonds today, and it might even make you rethink your next jewelry purchase.
The History of the Diamond Industry
If there’s one name you need to know about in the diamond world, it’s De Beers. This is the world’s largest producer and distributor of diamonds. De Beers took off in the late 1800s and eventually grew to own a large portion of the world’s supply of diamonds.
When a company has that much power over a market, they can manipulate the price of their goods, and this is exactly what De Beers did. With most of the world’s supply of diamonds in their grasp, De Beers could artificially limit the amount of diamonds that were mined. This made it seem like diamonds are limited and rare.
When the supply for a product is low and the demand is high, the monetary value of a product skyrockets. This is the concept of supply and demand, and it’s why diamonds are so expensive!
It makes sense for a rare gem to be expensive, but diamonds were only made to seem rare, so De Beers was actually able to price them higher than they were probably worth.
And yet, people were (and still are) eager to buy expensive diamonds. Why? Well, that’s where the marketing comes in!
The marketing geniuses at De Beers used some pretty clever concepts to grow the demand for diamonds so much that people were willing to pay an arm and a leg for them.
Consider this: the diamond is one of the strongest gems on the market. It’s almost impossible to break, thus it can last forever. You know what else is similarly unbreakable and everlasting? Love! (Well, that’s what they say at least!)
The marketing geniuses at De Beers used this idea of everlasting love to boost the demand for diamonds. When they started advertising diamonds as the ideal material for an engagement ring, they did so by using the slogan “a diamond is forever”… just like love.
Before this marketing campaign, diamonds were not the go-to gem in engagement rings. But this slogan was so effective that it changed the engagement ring industry for good. These days it’s rare to see an engagement ring without a diamond centerpiece.
The De Beers slogan turned diamonds into a symbol of love. The size (and cost) of the diamond became integrated into this symbolism – the idea is that if you spend a lot of money on a diamond, it shows you really love someone.
That seems a little backwards for the modern society we live, in right? A rock (no matter how sparkly) doesn’t have to be the one and only enduring symbol of love. But, thanks to years of successful marketing, the diamond has become just that in the jewelry world.
So, Are Diamonds Really A Girl’s Best Friend?
When you understand how diamonds became so popular and so expensive, you might be confronted with the rather existential realization that the value they hold is just as manufactured as De Beers’ supply limitations and marketing slogans.
With so many beautiful jewelry alternatives on the market, more and more people are seeking alternatives to diamonds that are just as beautiful but also more affordable.
A huge reason why some consumers are turning away from diamonds is because the diamond has a history with conflict. You’ve probably heard about blood diamonds, which are mined by exploited workers to fund civil wars.
Over the years, laws have been enforced to try to prevent these diamonds from getting on the market. While this has significantly cut back on the mining of diamonds to fund civil wars, it has not completely prevented the use of exploited labor in mining diamonds for cheap.
Alternatives to Diamonds
When it comes down to it, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with buying conflict-free diamond jewelry. The diamond’s beauty truly is everlasting – it’s a jewelry box essential that will never go out of style!
But if learning about the history of diamonds has made you a bit hesitant to spend an arm and a leg simply to get a real diamond, don’t fret. There are plenty of alternatives that are just as beautiful but not nearly as expensive or prone to conflict.
Lab-grown diamonds are less expensive and are almost identical to real diamonds. Similar gems like white sapphire and moissanite also supply the clear, sparkling appearance of a diamond but at a lower cost. And, lastly, who doesn’t love cubic zirconia? This option is artificial and very affordable. It certainly shines bright like a diamond, but it’s easier to tell that it’s not the real deal.
“Diamond” Earrings for All
Here at EarFleek, we love any diamond-lookalike that adds a bit of sparkle to a pair of earrings. Our current favorite is our Star Cut Silver Star Earrings, because they satisfy that craving for a diamond look but without the cost or conflict.
If you’re looking to freshen up your jewelry box with some affordable, sparkling earrings, then look no further. You can sign up for our monthly earring subscription box to receive one new pair each month. We customize your boxes to your taste based on your answers to our fun “swipe” quiz! Use code BLOG to get 50% off your first month when you sign up here.