By Michelle Graff
This week, someone called my attention to a story in the print version of the New York Post highlighting a trend many in the jewelry industry are already aware of: non-traditional engagement rings.

Michelle-blogThe same article appeared online with a different headline: “Unless she’s a basic chick, don’t propose with a giant rock.”

“Basic chick” is a euphemism for “basic bitch,” a fairly new slang term created to refer to a woman who likes mainstream products or music because this is, apparently, a huge shortcoming nowadays (though only for women, of course.) Why we as a society feel the need to continually come up with new derogatory terms to refer to girls and women—and why women perpetuate negativity and stereotypes by using them—is unclear to me, but that’s beside the point of this blog.

The Post article describes a few beautiful-sounding custom engagement rings and gets a bit into the colored gemstone trend as well, with the requisite mention of the sapphire ring Kate Middleton wears.

The article, all in all, is not terrible and backs up what I just reaffirmed in interviewing millennials for a story in our next digital magazine: they aren’t afraid to break from tradition and want something different, not necessarily bigger and better.

At the end of the story, however, the Post embedded a somewhat random video called “Why Engagement Rings are a Scam,” which covers the same ground as every other “diamonds are a rip off”-type article: diamonds aren’t rare, they aren’t really worth anything, De Beers is a monopoly (incorrect; they control only 34 percent of the world’s supply at this point) that invented the idea of the diamond engagement ring in the 1930s.

While some people did exchange diamonds to mark their engagements before the ‘30s, it is correct that it was De Beers that really put the marketing muscle behind the concept with “A Diamond is Forever.”

But, De Beers is hardly the first company to try to connect with consumers in an effort to get them to buy their products, and they won’t be the last. Sorry to break the news for the star of this ill-informed video and all the other men out there that rail against the diamond ring but … there’s some type of marketing behind almost everything you buy.

Gentlemen, do you know that giant, 64-inch HD TV in your living room? You know, the one that will be technologically out of date in a few years and end up outside on the curb alongside your Ikea furniture?

You likely bought it because Samsung or Sony or LG convinced you that you needed it, which, unless you have a vision problem or are trying to compensate for shortcomings in other areas, you don’t. You’d be perfectly fine with a much smaller, less expensive TV.

Why diamonds, which really do last forever, specifically end up the subject of so many “they’re a rip off”-type articles in a world where nobody has a problem constantly creating waste with cheap, throwaway furniture and fast fashion, I’ll never understand.

My mother has worn the same engagement ring for 45 years. I have no idea what my father paid for it back in 1969.

It doesn’t matter.

It’s something that she kept close to her for decades and that makes it worth a lot to me today.

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