Diamond rings are a form of prostitution: please discuss. I’m not talking about the atrocious way they’re procured – by some of the world’s poorest people in shocking conditions for appalling wages. In fact, I’m not talking at all because these fighting words are not mine. They’re the premise of an article that appeared in online magazine Nerve last year and ignited a firestorm. Gee, I wonder why?
Inflammatory hooker implications aside, writer Ken Mondschein makes a compelling argument. After detailing the way diamonds are ingeniously marketed to target all our insecurities about love, status and money, he says the unspoken message to men is “…if you don’t buy her a diamond, you not only don’t love her, you can’t afford her.’
Ouch. Mondschein goes on to say, “…diamonds not only aren’t a girl’s best friend, they’re also bad for human rights and the environment. Worse, they’re a symbol of the same conspicuous-consumption consumer culture that reduces human relationships to a bank balance.”
I have a theory about flowers that also applies to diamond rings. My flower theory goes that the man who sends flowers to a woman in her workplace wins more points than the man who presents them privately. Because it’s not just about the flowers, it’s about other people SEEING the flowers. And so it is with some women and their diamonds.
During the years I worked in an office full of women, I watched many of them bounce in to announce their engagements. What happened next was predictable. A crowd would form instantly and, as one, they’d chorus: “Let’s see the ring!” This was unnecessary because the girl’s left hand would already be thrust out in front of her. There would be squeals. Gushing. But the future groom’s name was rarely mentioned. Even the proposal story was secondary to the examination and discussion of The Ring.
Occasionally, when a nervous (or spontaneous) man decided the pressure of choosing such a significant and expensive item alone was too great, there would be no ring. When that happened, the crowd dissipated quickly. The collective disappointment was palpable, the anti-climax acute. No ring? No squeals. I always found this ritual boring and cringey. I still do. It makes me uncomfortable the way some girls focus on the ring instead of the engagement – usually the same ones who focus on the wedding instead of the marriage.