Friday, July 13, 2007

The "Tradition" of the Diamond Engagement Ring

Recently, a coworker of mine proposed to his girlfriend. He showed me the ring beforehand, just to see what I think about it. The ring was gorgeous, 2.13 carat solitaire set in platinum. I told him what I thought and he said “I like it too but I know she’ll want to change it.” This statement baffled me. Why do women put so much importance on the engagement ring? Shouldn’t they focus more on the quality of their relationship and the life they will have with their future husbands? With this thought in mind, I did a little searching on the internet and found this article (see below) on the origins of the diamond engagement ring tradition. Ladies, enjoy! (On a side note, my coworker is now engaged and his girlfriend had the ring changed. The ring is now bigger and more ostentatious as they added more diamonds because apparently a solitaire is not good enough for her. Further, she does not want to be called his fiancĂ© until she receives her custom-made ring.)

Engagement, Inc.:
The marketing of diamonds

By Robin Edgerton Issue #16

In the late 1800s, the Oppenheimer family established a diamond monopoly with its company, De Beers. Around that time, Victorian culture was busy assigning abstract concepts to material objects. For instance, Kate Greenaway’s wildly popular The Language of Flowers (1885) ascribed a meaning to each specie and variety of flower. A yellow rose meant platonic love, for instance. Such assignations applied to stones as well, which sometimes increased a substance’s value. The idea that diamonds represented "perfect love" evolved during the Victorian era but was reinforced with a vengeance by the market manipulation of De Beers.

In the 1930s, De Beers set out to establish social status for large diamonds through giving a number of starlets hefty stones, arranging for glamorous photo shoots, and script-doctoring Hollywood movies to include scenes of jewelry shopping. The tradition began to be manipulated more closely in one particular aspect–the act of giving. Those starlets told tales of being surprised by their large stones. Movie scenes featured a hero giving his gal a big rock and watching her eyes grow wide with joy. The diamond began to be injected into relationships between men and women as a reproducible act–a script for life, not just film–and an inseparable part of courtship and marriange. In 1947, De Beers’ ad agency came up with the massively successful slogan "A diamond is forever," which implied that diamonds don’t crack, break, or lose value. (They do.) The slogan became so entrenched that the only proper way to "dispose" of diamonds was to hand them down to a female descendant.

Other techniques De Beers used are familiar today; they sent representatives to high school home ec classes to teach girls about the value of diamonds and feed them romantic dreams. The diamond went from being a status symbol to an emotional one–love measured in carats.

Ten-year anniversary rings were created and heavily advertised in the 1960s after De Beers was forced to purchase large stocks of Russian diamonds. Most of these diamonds were small, white gems of less than one-quarter carat. As De Beers had been pushing engagement rings with larger (and mostly South African) stones, they had to adjust their campaigns. Hence the eternity ring–equally expensive but with smaller stones–was marketed specifically for anniversaries.

In 1967, De Beers contacted advertising agency J. Walter Thompson to popularize the diamond engagement ring in Brazil, Germany, and Japan. While De Beers found limited success in the former two countries, Japan far exceeded expectations. By 1978, half of all Japanese brides received a diamond engagement ring. By 1981, the number had grown to 60 percent; the "tradition" had taken hold. Just how did the J. Walter Thompson agency accomplish this? A basic but general ad campaign similar to that in the U.S.–the diamond ring was pitched not as a product but as a symbol.

Thursday, July 05, 2007


What was the highlight of your week? Watching my friend Junee have contractions and coming back to her room 30 minutes later to find a beautiful baby girl next to her.

Whose car were you in last? Mine

When is the next time you will kiss someone?

What color shirt are you wearing? Cream

How long is your hair? Mid-back

Last movie you watched? Sicko in theaters and Step Up on TV

Last thing you ate? Bi Bim Bop from Edibles (my lunch)

Last thing you drank? Sprite

Where did you sleep last night? My bed

Are you happy right now? Yeah…and a little sleepy.

What did you say last? Ha!

Where is your phone? Under a pile of paper

What was the last museum you went to? Ayala Museum in Manila

What color are your eyes? Dark brown

Who came over last? My place? Arash.

When was the last time you had your heart broken? Long time ago (thank God.)

Who/what do you hate/dislike currently? Deidra, lol.

What are you listening to? Stephanie talking on the phone

If you could have one thing right now what would it be? My bonus, hahaha!

What is your favorite scent?
Citrus scents

Who makes you happiest right now? My boyfriend and my family.

What were you doing at midnight last night? Sleeping

Are you left-handed? Nope.

What's for dinner tonight? Leftovers

When Is Your Birthday? October 27

Who was the last person to send you a text message? Karen, I think.

When was the last time you went to a swimming pool? Everyday, my apartment has one.

Where was the last place you went shopping? Albertson’s…does that count? Lol.

How do you feel about your hair right now? I need a haircut.

Do you have any expensive jewelry? Yeah, but I don’t use it.

AIM or MSN? None, Microsoft Communicator.

Where does most of your family live? My immediate family is here in L.A.

Are you an only child or do you have siblings? I have 3 younger brothers.

Would you consider yourself to be spoiled? Nope

What was the first thing you thought when you woke up? I can’t believe I have to go to work today.

Do you drink beer? Sometimes…too much calories though.

Myspace or Facebook? None.

Do you have T-Mobile? Nope. AT&T.

What is your favorite subject in school? In High School, I loved Math. In college, my history class…very interesting.

Do you have any talents? I dance.

Have you ever been in a wedding? Yes.

Do you have any children? Someday hopefully.

Did you take a nap today? Nope, but I wish I did

Ever met someone famous? Yup

Do you want to be famous one day? HECK YES!

Are you multitasking right now?
Nope, too sleepy.

Could you handle being in the military? Handle it? Probably. Would I want to? Not really.

What is your average cell phone bill? $65/month

Do you believe in Karma? Sometimes

Ever been to Las Vegas? Yup.

What are you doing today? I’m supposed to be working.

Have you ever been gambling? Yeah, but I’d rather watch.

When is the last time you updated your blog? Right about now.

Have you been to New York City? Yup

Ever been to Disneyland/world? Yes to both Disneyland and Disneyworld.

Do you have a favorite cartoon character? Not really

Last thing you cooked? I think rice and chorizo de bilbao…lol, very fattening.

Stupidest thing you ever did with your cell phone? Dropped it.

Last time you were sick? A while ago…in April after I came back from vacation. I got the stomach flu.

Friend that makes you laugh the hardest? Anna…but I don’t get to see her as much as I would like to.