The Very Dark Reason Why "Diamonds Are A Girl's Best Friend"

A simple song of the past made me realize a terrible, terrible truth about jewelry.

Woman using diamonds as safety net Tatti777, Oleg Gekman, Karolina Grabowska | Canva 

Is there anything more traditionally romantic than asking for a woman to marry you with a beautifully sculpted diamond ring? Lately, I was doing my regular buzzing around the kitchen while I started to cook something for my husband.

I started singing to myself a classic tune you might be aware of, “Diamonds Are A Girl’s Best Friend.” It was part of a musical known as Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.


I stopped cooking for a moment and thought about the song. And then I thought about the era. And then? All I could think of was what a dark, dark secret that little song held.

First, let’s talk about why diamonds are so pricey and coveted as gifts.


Diamond rings, diamond bracelets…these have been tokens of love only since De Beers and a marketing company created a tradition of a wedding proposal involving a diamond ring back in the 1930s.

De Beers was famous for inflating the price of diamonds, which in turn, made them a major status symbol. In truth, diamonds aren’t as rare as people make them out to be. They are fairly common compared to emeralds or rubies.

Despite their novelty in the arena of status symbols, diamonds have a lot of cultural clout behind them. By the 1940s, women were clamoring for diamonds as an engagement ring.

Diamonds became the midcentury symbol of true love. Prior to that, engagement rings would be made of semiprecious stones instead. Now that we’ve got that into perspective, let’s talk about the women of the day.


RELATED: The Incredibly True Story Of The First-Ever Diamond Engagement Ring

One of the little-discussed feminist issues of yesteryear is how women couldn’t control money.

Prior to the feminist movement, women were not allowed to open up their own bank accounts or get credit cards. Credit and other major financial freedoms were only given freely to men up until the 60s and 70s.

Prior to that, women had to get a signature from a husband to get a bank account in most banks. Rare was the bank willing to work with any woman at all, especially if she was a singleton.

That means that being with a man was the only way to get your finances in order unless you were an heiress or somehow were able to open up a business.


The thing is, you need money to live. And you need to have a way to maintain things if your husband dies or if you need to bail. You can’t have a bank account all the time, and a credit card? Not a thing at the time.

Let’s say you need to flee someone in an instant or stay solo for one reason or another as a woman. You can’t always rely on banks to be there and at times, a paper trail can cause problems.

So what do you do…?

You sell what you have to survive or drum up the funds.

RELATED: Why I Sold My Engagement Ring For $28

Diamonds were a girl’s best friend for the same reason they were a pimp’s best friend.

I’ll let you in on a little secret that I learned from a guy I knew in NYC for a while. He was a son of a pimp  —  literally. As in, his dad married his prostitute, and he was born from that union.


He took up the family business and also took up old-school money management skills. How do I know? Simple. He had a massive, massive ring made of 18K gold with massive diamonds on them. I eventually asked him why he always wore that ring.

I thought it was costume jewelry.

He looked at me and told me, “If I get locked up, I give this to a girl I’m with, she pawns it for bail money. It’s what my dad taught me to do. Diamonds aren’t on the books and they don’t usually get confiscated by police.”

This is also why you hear about rich women who insist on their husbands buying them jewelry every time they cheat and get caught. They’re growing their own stockpile of wealth that can’t be touched in a divorce because it was a gift to the jilted wife.


RELATED: Why I Don't Wear My Diamond Ring Anymore, Even Though I'm Happily Married

The reason why women are losing interest in expensive jewelry lies in how our society changed.

As a person who’s under the age of 40, I don’t really hear women my age and younger talk about fancy jewels. In fact, I’m pretty sure that I’m the only one in my art crew who knows the difference between a square, princess, and cabochon cut.

This is a sign of progress, believe it or not.


The reason women my age and younger aren’t as interested or knowledgeable about fancy jewels lies in what we now have access to: financial freedom. We don’t need diamonds to protect us the way we did in the past.

Diamonds were there to protect women financially in a system that often failed them. They were a girl’s best friend because people could always betray you, but money never would. And when the odds of getting money were against you, a diamond made a world of difference.



As for me? I’ll personally never turn down some nice bling, but I think it totally rocks that I don’t have to depend on gemstones to save myself from destitution.


RELATED: Woman Asks If She Should Reject Proposal After Partner Of 8 Years Gave Her A Tiny Ring

Ossiana Tepfenhart is a writer whose work has been featured in Yahoo, BRIDES, Your Daily Dish, Newtheory Magazine, and others.