We’ve all daydreamed about the most orgasmic romantic tale: dressing up and going out to enjoy a diminutive, yet expensive meal at some five-star over-the-top restaurant, pretending we have no clue why we’re getting drunk on expensive champagne. Suddenly a declaration of eternal love sparkles by the sight of a big, fat diamond ring. Pretty much standard, give or take a couple of carats and the medium-rare unseasoned steak. It has been implanted, burned, and tattooed in all of us that a diamond ring equals love, right? Well, believe it or not, diamonds really aren’t all that rare, nor expensive. In fact, the reason diamonds cost so much is more due to unethical — evil — business practices and incredibly successful advertising campaigns.
A 1960 De Beers ad in Reader’s Digest (SensaiAlan/Flickr)
Prior to 1869, South Africa’s main exports were wool and sugar. There was really nothing interesting for Europe to exploit. So what changed? In 1883 a shepherd boy near the Orange River in South Africa found a carat diamond. Nicknamed the “Star of South Africa,” the diamond sparkled and a light bulb went on in the heads of some British conquistadores. Soon after, four mines were ransacked followed by the discovery of the largest diamond deposit ever. By now you may have guessed the diamond business is being built and developed by the exploitation and slavery of our African siblings, from a few “business dudes” in power, ever since. These people in power valued the land of the region, by astronomical amounts. And, yes, two Anglo-Boer wars ensued with many casualties and devastation.
The fighting and overwhelming loss of life didn’t justify the amount of diamonds coming out of the South African mines. In 1888, as diamond prices fell, the remaining mine owners decided that the only way their industry would survive was, instead of competing with one another, to consolidate and create a monopoly in the industry. That corporation was De Beers Consolidated Mines, Ltd., headed up by Cecil Rhodes. From that point forward, the De Beers Company was nearly the sole owner of every single South African mine. As a 1982 Atlantic article by Edward Jay Epstein article put it, “De Beers proved to be the most successful cartel arrangement in the annals of modern commerce.”
Up until now, you may all see how diamonds stand for love, right?
Let’s bring this up a nudge. The study The Truth About The Diamond Trade states:
When Rhodes was alive the diamonds at Kimberley were still alluvial, easily picked up from the ground. Africans, enslaved on their own land, had tin cans tied around their necks. They were lined up and forced at gunpoint to get down on their hands and knees to pick up the diamonds and put them into the cans.
- See more at: http://www.latinorebels.com/2016/03/21/the-diamond-ring-sexist-advertising-scam-womenshistorymonth/#sthash.HBrWheJX.dpuf