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It's not very common that a private company's marketing campaign goes viral. It's even rarer that one is able to push their brand into mainstream English vocabulary (read: Zamboni, Kleenex, Google etc). However placing your product at the center of societies most important social ritual? That's probably only been done once by a monopolist named De Beers, with the common mineral: Diamonds.

American males enter adulthood through a peculiar rite of passage - they spend most of their savings on a shiny piece of rock... Americans exchange diamond rings as part of the engagement process, because in 1938 De Beers decided that they would like us to. Prior to a stunningly successful marketing campaign 1938, Americans occasionally exchanged engagement rings, but wasn't a pervasive occurrence.

The De Beers marketing machine continued to churn out the hits. They circulated marketing materials suggesting, apropos of nothing, that a man should spend one month's salary on a diamond ring. It worked so well that De Beers arbitrarily decided to increase the suggestion to two months salary. That's why you think that you need to spend two month's salary on a ring - because the suppliers of the product said so.

Today, over 80% of women in the US receive diamond rings when they get engaged. The domination is complete.

The supply of diamonds is basically controlled by one company that in turn convinced everyone that what it was selling is valuable.

As a naive undergrad student I think it's weird how people shell out big money for diamonds and other jewelry. I understand things like fine wine and art, because of their rarity, but diamonds aren't rare and perfect stones can be synthesized nowadays. It seems like a product that is bought only because it is expensive.

Will you buy one if your significant other wanted it?

Source:
Diamonds are a Sham and it's Time We Stopped Getting Engaged With Them

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Comments (286)

  • CorpFinanceGuy's picture

    If you plan on not getting your wife a diamond ring, all I can say is, good luck.

  • NickW1's picture

    I won't.
    I agree that the rarity of diamonds is misconceived; the big diamond companies control the supply that arrives at market, creating artificial scarcity. The reason why they're so expensive is mainly because these companies stockpile a bunch of diamonds and then sell them in low supply relative to the total amount of diamonds they have stockpiled.

  • D M's picture

    Not a chance. Ethics aside, it's worthless.

    "You stop being an asshole when it sucks to be you." -IlliniProgrammer
    "Your grammar made me wish I'd been aborted." -happypantsmcgee

  • MissMoneyPenny's picture
  • TheBigBambino's picture

    Just went through the process of buying one. All I can say is the money you drop acquiring one will mean nothing compared to the impact on your life and finances if you chose the wrong person.

    Just deal with it and shell out the cash.

    "If you want to succeed in this life, you need to understand that duty comes before rights and that responsibility precedes opportunity."

  • TNA's picture

    Get a cube Z. Why people continue to mindlessly do what they are told they have to do is beyond me. Worst case scenario is she breaks with you which isn't an issue since you'll have your 20-30k or whatever and can easily find another woman.

  • Simple As...'s picture

    patternfinder:
    Of course, I would just buy in scales.

    See my WSO Blog | my AMA

  • In reply to CorpFinanceGuy
    notthehospitalER's picture

    Was actually talking about this at work the other day because an associate I work with is getting ready to propose. Agree w/ CorpFinanceGuy....if you don't buy your fiancee a diamond ring, good luck....

  • In reply to notthehospitalER
    AcctNerd's picture

    100% agree. Unless she specifically asks for something other than a diamond...suck it up.

    "Everybody needs money. That's why they call it money." - Mickey Bergman - Heist (2001)

  • LBT's picture
  • JrMistMaker's picture

    I was dead set on getting her one but she said multiple times that she doesn't want a diamond ring or any ring with a large stone in it. Everyone I have mentioned this to (myself included) thinks its weird as hell but she legitimately doesn't want one. She really hates flashy thing/jewelry so i guess it makes sense.

  • Anihilist's picture

    If I bought her a fake, would she even be able to tell the difference?

    People demand freedom of speech as a compensation for freedom of thought which they seldom use.

  • In reply to TNA
    Going Concern's picture

    TNA:

    Get a cube Z. Why people continue to mindlessly do what they are told they have to do is beyond me. Worst case scenario is she breaks with you which isn't an issue since you'll have your 20-30k or whatever and can easily find another woman.

    Must be some girl that is worth less to you than a couple k...I guess another girl like that shouldn't be too difficult to find

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  • el0430's picture

    If the diamond has scratches, then it's fake.
    Call me a tomboy, but I really don't see the appeal of diamonds. Sure they're sparkly and tough as hell and all, but in the end it's just an overly expensive rock that screams "Rob me! rob me!"

  • In reply to el0430
    MissMoneyPenny's picture

    You're joking right?

  • SSits's picture

    Never bought my wife a ring (with or without diamond). She earns enough money that she can buy herself one if she wanted one, but she does not want one.

    What is the answer? How much is enough?

  • OfficerGodzilla's picture

    Yes, the money saved just wouldn't be worth the amount of nagging and shit I would get from my family, her family and friends. I enjoy my peace.

  • In reply to MissMoneyPenny
    el0430's picture
  • AndyLouis's picture

    we studied this phenomenon in my consumer culture class, fascinating. De Beers did some brilliant marketing (placement in movies basically teaching men how to propose). what was my prof's conclusion.... something like 'you'll probably have to end up buying her a ring, just don't spend your life savings on it"
    http://diamondsordogs.com/dogs/2012/05/the-real-hi...

  • Anihilist's picture

    People demand freedom of speech as a compensation for freedom of thought which they seldom use.

  • Going Concern's picture

    It doesn't really matter why girls expect diamond rings, the point is most girls have come to accept them as social symbols of commitment (and they also want the joy of being able to brag to their friends and family and post it on facebook and parade around for a while). Whether or not you should bother getting married is a separate issue but if you are going to and prefer to actually have a fiance and one without lingering resentment, I don't think you have much choice unfortunately.

  • CorpFinanceGuy's picture

    LOL @ all these finance nerds talking a big game. I know you all think you're so intellectually superior and above societal norms, but there's no fucking way a normal girl would let you get away with not getting her a diamond ring.

    99.9% of every girl has been dreaming about that moment since she was 12 years old.

  • TheBigBambino's picture

    OK. I gotta follow up as I didn't feel there were significant posts on WSO for this type of decision when i made it. I've had one freaking roller coaster of a ride for the past few months.

    I bought a very expensive designer ring (Ex. Graff / De Beers / Harry Winston) and it was perfect. Then 1 months later my fiance lost it. I had it appraised for 30% above cost and had it insured so boom - got all my money back and some. Ended up realizing there is little reason for going designer when doing the second ring and decided to get a custom one made with jewish jeweler in NYC that was much higher quality (prob 25% more) for the same price due to no brand premium.

    If anyone has Q's feel free to PM. I'd be happy to let you know the trade offs of each experience as well as the diamond specs I'd make sure to get. After 4 months negotiating with gemologists I've finally started to understand how the freaking market prices everything.

    Best of luck to you boys. Remember - it's girl that's a much more important decision than the ring.

    "If you want to succeed in this life, you need to understand that duty comes before rights and that responsibility precedes opportunity."

  • In reply to CorpFinanceGuy
    SSits's picture

    I got the 0.1%.

    Didn't want a ring, didn't want a wedding.

    My tips for happy marriage - choose a lady with low expectations and high self-discipline.

    What is the answer? How much is enough?

  • In reply to SSits
    CorpFinanceGuy's picture

    SSits:

    I got the 0.1%.

    Didn't want a ring, didn't want a wedding.

    My tips for happy marriage - choose a lady with low expectations and high self-discipline.

    As long as we can agree that's the .1%, Congrats.

  • In reply to SSits
    Going Concern's picture

    SSits:

    I got the 0.1%.

    Didn't want a ring, didn't want a wedding.

    My tips for happy marriage - choose a lady with low expectations and high self-discipline.

    Aren't you the guy who commented recently of having an unhappy marriage lol

  • MMBanker14's picture

    What is the typical amount spent on a ring as a % of salary? Several girls have told me that their friends expect their rings to cost about 3 months salary, which I think is insane.

  • In reply to Going Concern
    torchic's picture

    Going Concern:

    SSits:

    I got the 0.1%.

    Didn't want a ring, didn't want a wedding.

    My tips for happy marriage - choose a lady with low expectations and high self-discipline.

    Aren't you the guy who commented recently of having an unhappy marriage lol


    Definitely because of the ring

    speed boost blaze

  • JrTrader's picture

    I get that if your girl (or guy) just wants one, it's probably not worth fighting over it, but why not go with something like cubic zirconia or moissanite that's both more ethical and more perfect structurally and put the savings to something that will make both of you more happy?

  • In reply to CorpFinanceGuy
    ishouldbstudying's picture

    This.

    It's funny to hear the college sophomore who's never had a relationship longer than a few months proclaim that he will not be buying a diamond ring. Good luck buddy! Women have been dreaming of their perfect wedding dress, wedding venue, wedding ring, and hell even the wedding food ever since 4 years old when they started dressing up as a princess.
    I've been married for a couple years and trust me this pragmatic and efficiency over everything mindset won't fly in any worthwhile relationship.

  • In reply to MMBanker14
    ishouldbstudying's picture

    You can't go wrong with a Neil Lane ring fit with a cubic zirconia (I think the Bachelor did a great job of making this designer appeal to every single women). It would only be 3-5k and in 5-10 years, assuming you're not making PE shop money now, you can upgrade to a real diamond.

  • TNA's picture

    Gotta love the butt hurt men in this thread. If you want to buy a ring, do it. My desire to buy a ring or not isn't a reflection of the quality of woman I or anyone dates.

    I would buy a ruby ring. I would give $30K in cash. I'd buy a gold bar for the woman. I am simply not going to waste money on something with zero value. Frankly, any woman who couldn't think rationally about it wouldn't be someone I would want to be with. I mean what's next? You'll need a massive home because her friends have one. Or is a BMQ a sign of love now?

    Guys should do whatever they want, but don't make it out to be anything other than you giving into an obvious marketing campaign or not having the sack to say no to a woman.

    Also kind of funny how simple gold bands were the standard for hundreds of years, but now marriage is so badass, especially with the 50% divorce rate, that it demands a massive rock.

    Side note, no one is talking about a $5K ring. I mean if I ever did get married (bad mistake #1) I would happily buy a $5K ring. I would buy a $10k ring. Because who fucking cares. But we are talking about $20-30K rings here. 2-3 carats. Sorry, but I am not wasting a 3 series worth of cash for something with zero asset value.

  • jankynoname's picture

    the worst is when they want diamonds for other occasions... i didn't mind getting the engagement ring, but now it looks like i'll be stuck wasting more money on jewelry... such a waste.

  • In reply to Going Concern
    TNA's picture

    Going Concern:

    Solid rant brah...would love to be a fly on the wall when you explain to a girl how to think rationally and analyze asset values

    Not really a rant, simply facts. No where did I ever say you should do what I do. You working for DeBeers or something?

    I mean the conversation would simply be "no, I am not doing it" and then that would be that. Considering I've said that to prior girlfriends it manages to work out just fine.

    But cool dude. Keep getting angry when someone chooses to not do what you think is a rule when in fact it is simply DeBeers selling people bullshit for 80 years.

  • In reply to Going Concern
    HFer_wannabe's picture

    Going Concern:

    It doesn't really matter why girls expect diamond rings, the point is most girls have come to accept them as social symbols of commitment (and they also want the joy of being able to brag to their friends and family and post it on facebook and parade around for a while). Whether or not you should bother getting married is a separate issue but if you are going to and prefer to actually have a fiance and one without lingering resentment, I don't think you have much choice unfortunately.

    Exactly what I was gonna write. She can't post pictures of "I love you" or "life-long commitment" on FB

  • BGP2587's picture

    However it started, and no matter how shitty the diamond market is, some things just have to be done. Maybe you'll find the 1/1,000,000 girl that doesn't want or care about a diamond ring. Wonderful. That's not normal and is quite unlikely. Just about every one of you will end up buying one.

  • In reply to TNA
    CorpFinanceGuy's picture

    TNA:

    Going Concern:

    Solid rant brah...would love to be a fly on the wall when you explain to a girl how to think rationally and analyze asset values

    Not really a rant, simply facts. No where did I ever say you should do what I do. You working for DeBeers or something?

    I mean the conversation would simply be "no, I am not doing it" and then that would be that. Considering I've said that to prior girlfriends it manages to work out just fine.

    But cool dude. Keep getting angry when someone chooses to not do what you think is a rule when in fact it is simply DeBeers selling people bullshit for 80 years.

    LOL @ these kids that can't get over the fact someone executed a fantastic marketing plan 80 years ago. I'm seriously sitting here laughing at my desk. @Going Concern, they don't understand that NAV means jack shit to a 25yo PR specialist.

    Also, "I mean the conversation would simply be "no, I am not doing it" and then that would be that."

    That quote kills me. Please, try doing that. You should probably stick to giving advice on MSF's and not GF's.

  • In reply to Going Concern
    GoldenCinderblock's picture

    Going Concern:

    Solid rant brah...would love to be a fly on the wall when you explain to a girl how to think rationally and analyze asset values


    Dude, we get it: Most girls can't think rationally about this just like how they can't think rationally about most other things. The average man can't think rationally about most things either.

    But do you really strive to marry (if you're into that) an average girl? Are we not the high financier types with great prospects, wit, and offensively good looks? We shouldn't have to settle for a girl who can't conform to our worldviews.

    heister:
    Look at all these wannabe richies hating on an expensive salad.

  • TNA's picture

    I don't remember really giving any advice. I simply stated what I was going to do. Everyone is different and should operate accordingly. I'll say this. If you have a girl that demands a certain type ring you better be prepared for someone who is going to demand a car, house, vacation, etc.

  • In reply to CorpFinanceGuy
    Going Concern's picture

    CorpFinanceGuy:
    @Going Concern, they don't understand that NAV means jack shit to a 25yo PR specialist.

    I think it's hilarious some people write like a dozen paragraphs and go on some anti-establishment crusade and don't bother to mention even once what the girl might be thinking

  • In reply to SSits
    BatMasterson's picture

    Shouldn't we call that "diamond in the rough" ?

    "I like money (as do most females) but love is...great :)"-student
    "Perhaps you've failed to take into account my hidden assets"-007
    Storm: Orig Mix

  • Dr.Seuss's picture

    In b4 this turns into a discussion on the merits of marriage. #WSO

  • In reply to el0430
    Disjoint's picture

    el0430:

    If the diamond has scratches, then it's fake.

    Call me a tomboy, but I really don't see the appeal of diamonds. Sure they're sparkly and tough as hell and all, but in the end it's just an overly expensive rock that screams "Rob me! rob me!"

    You are full of sh.t diamond can scratch. Google it

  • In reply to TNA
    Disjoint's picture

    TNA:

    Get a cube Z. Why people continue to mindlessly do what they are told they have to do is beyond me. Worst case scenario is she breaks with you which isn't an issue since you'll have your 20-30k or whatever and can easily find another woman.

    Cube Z are more expensive for smaller stones than diamonds. They marginally get cheaper as you go big, at 2 carat you are in the money with a Z.
    Otherwise they look like a Z, and I can tell easily by the naked eye that it's a Z.

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