Would you jump off of a bridge if a fancy ad told you to? Probably not, but that's exactly what happened — in a manner of speaking — after De Beers rolled out an ad campaign 1938 that made diamond engagement rings a must have if young men intended to propose marriage.
In just three years after the campaign debuted, American diamond sales increased by over 50% (prior to the campaign, diamond engagement rings were by and large a non-event), according to Business Insider. Less than 10 years later, in 1947, the diamond supplier penned the slogan "A Diamond is Forever" solidifying the gem as a symbol of enduring and unbreakable love that resulted in 80 percent of American brides receiving diamond rings within twenty years.
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When De Beers said jump, we responded with an exuberant "how high?". And while it's true that nothing is stronger than a diamond, which comes in at the top of the Mohs hardness scale and justifies the marketing for the strongest of gemstones, the rarity of the stone is just a marketing ploy.
How much different, then, are diamond engagement rings from Valentine's Day? The two are far more similar than they seem. Both lend themselves to ridiculous expectations, and in this social media age, a "keeping up with the Joneses" mentality that's frankly disturbing. Just look at your Facebook and Instagram accounts and see how many of your newly engaged friends posted photos of their rings, and of their elaborate bouquets and gifts on Valentine’s Day. They're definitely not getting smaller or less ornate, that's for sure.
According to a recent study from The Wedding Report the average cost of an engagement ring in 2012 was $3,239. If it’s not worth much in the long run, couldn't that money be better used for a down payment on your first home, an IRA or even safely tucked away in savings? At least these things appreciate in value over time; unlike the rock we all covet so much.
Diamonds are like cars in a way: they depreciate in value as soon as you leave the store. The markup hovers at 100 to 200 percent and they have almost no intrinsic value — but that probably won't stop millions of Americans from buying them before getting on one knee.
For something that just sits on your finger, they don't seem like a wise investment. But does the sentimental value of the rock trump the fact they aren't much more than a status symbol that some men in the 1930’s decided we needed in order to feel loved?
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How important is a diamond engagement ring to you? Tell us in the comments below.
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