By Michelle Graff
michelle.graff@nationaljeweler.com
A screenshot from “Diamonds” the season finale of the second season of “Explained,” the Vox-produced documentary series available on Netflix. (Photo courtesy of Netflix)
New York—Diamonds are the topic of an episode of “Explained,” a Vox-produced documentary series that just wrapped up its second season on Netflix.

The 23-minute episode, which aired Nov. 28, features familiar faces, including Alrosa North America President Rebecca Foerster and industry analyst Paul Zimnisky, and aims to answer the question, why do people like diamonds so much?

“Diamonds, Explained” begins with the scientific, noting that diamonds form deeper in the earth than other gemstones, at depths where the pressure reaches five to six gigapascals. (The pascal is a unit scientists use to measure pressure.)
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Karen Smit, a research scientist at GIA’s New York lab who’s featured in the show, described the pressure under which diamonds form using this analogy: “If you think of 80 elephants standing on your big toe, that is the pressure that is equivalent to five to six gigapascals.”

It also notes that the oldest diamonds, which formed 3.5 billion years ago, pre-date life on earth.

The show then moves into the history of diamonds as adornment, from crowns to pins to rings, including the diamond ring Archduke Maxmilian of Austria gave Mary of Burgundy when they got married in 1477.

It runs through the history of De Beers, beginning with its monopoly days and the introduction of “A Diamond Is Forever,” penned by copywriter Mary Frances Gerety, to stoke demand for diamonds by casting them as the stone of choice for engagement rings.

Named by AdAge as the top advertising slogan of the 20th century, the uber-successful marketing campaign precipitated the meteoric rise of the diamond’s use in engagement rings.

According to the documentary, around 10 percent of American brides would have gotten a diamond engagement ring in 1939. Today, that number is 85 to 90 percent.


WATCH: The Trailer for ‘Explained’ Season 2


“Diamonds, Explained” also delves into lab-grown diamonds, interviewing Ada Diamonds founder Jason Payne, and mentioning De Beers’ pivot to selling the man-made stones with the launch of Lightbox.

“Explained” is produced by news website Vox, a property of Vox Media, whose portfolio includes New York magazine, Grub Street and Recode.

Other topics explored in the second season include the booming number of billionaires, the allure of cults and the rise of athleisure as acceptable everyday fashion.


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