Diamonds and the Search for Reality

Real Is RareReal Is a Diamond.  So says the Diamond Producers Association (DPA).  But how rare is a diamond?  And how real is its significance?

Close-up of a couple's hands showing wedding rings with the caption: Real Is Rare, Real Is a Diamond.

At one time, diamonds were extremely scarce.  That was until 1870, when huge deposits were discovered in South Africa.  Foreseeing the impending depreciation of their investments, diamond mine financiers formed a monopoly, the De Beers Group.  For over a century, De Beers bought up competition, fixed prices, and effectively manipulated public perception to reap profits otherwise impossible.

Today the influence of De Beers has waned, but the legacy of its business practices has ensured that diamonds are still overpriced and that consumers are still willing to pay.  A Diamond Is Forever, the slogan introduced by De Beers in 1947, remains woven into the fabric of western culture and arguably the world.

Millennials, however, have shown signs of disinterest.  Constrained by limited budgets and less receptive to traditional status symbols, they represent a challenge for the DPA.  By capitalizing on the internet-induced alienation common to this age group, the Real Is Rare campaign seeks to align the diamond with relationships that are authentic and long-lasting—a rarity in the superficial world of cyberspace.

One Real Is Rare advertisement shows interlocked hands emerging from a landscape of mountains and dunes.  The image is clever but nonetheless smacks of willful mystification.  Are the ties of romantic love really commensurate with the sands of time?  The photo-shopped creation may exemplify the DPA’s marketing reinvention, but overstatement of the subject matter remains consistent with prior marketing efforts.  This is not to say that marriage is not sacred or at the very least serious, but that people often tie the knot with unrealistic expectations.

And no wonder.  Inundated with advertising that idealizes intimacy for the sake of selling products, populations far and wide blur the lines between fantasy and reality.  Indeed, an individual can become quite confused, especially when seduced by notions of authenticity peddled by an industry founded on a hoax.

Taking into account the rate of human progress from the Enlightenment to the Information Age, might the next epoch already be underway: the Age of Fraud?  We live in a world rife with scams, knockoffs, and rackets that have spawned the term fake news.  In this regard, the diamond industry surely stands as a forerunner.

So what is real?  The problem with that question is that we often don’t know until it’s too late.  Right now, real is COVID-19, or, a fear of dystopia precipitated in the human psyche by global warming, natural disasters, and political unrest.  Because whether concrete or abstract, if something is real, it must also be important.  The difference between importance and triviality, however, is often unclear when we turn to the marketplace for existential guidance.

Real Is Rare. Real Is a Diamond: Watch Common Commercials

Close-up of a couple's hands showing wedding rings with the caption: Real Is Rare, Real Is a Diamond.
Not Much Left to Spend on His Ring Though

Diamond Ad: Interlocked hands emerge from mountains and dunes with the caption "Three Billion Years in the Making."
A Disproportionate Metaphor

Author: Todd Garlington

Urban spectator, Inner space cadet

9 thoughts

  1. At some point this wanton consumerism that has so messed up everyone’s ability to weather these month(s?) of curve-flattening is going to be undone. Maybe it is going to be the post-Millennials who are not buying diamonds and houses and the like. Keeping up with the Joneses burned this Baby Boomer out 10 years ago. No diamonds catch my wife’s fancy…

  2. While surprised that the diamond peddler’s marketing melange didn’t opt for the equally subterfugal “Slavery Is Real” or “Artificial Economic Penetration Is Real, Yo” for “Real Is Rare,” the DPA does alternatively have some convincing romantic imagery leading those in need of validation and assimilation into the feudalistic values of modern laity (who also purvey the fairy tale ending and the voluntarily purchase of an overpriced earth stone).

    As you imaginatively point out here, the logic they purport blends organic substance with a digital twist as displayed by the two hands entwined.

    By chance are rubies rare as well? As it turns out many natural elements are rarer and in fact more real than harvested and exported blood diamonds.

    Also, does size matter? Is a larger diamond more real and therefore more of a testament to the eternity of the engaged couple? How much larger should the female diamond be compared to that of the male? There is so much the DPA has left us to ponder…

    Eagerly standing by for more direction from our hypnotic sages of banditry.

  3. I also noticed that the man is wearing a cheaper looking ring. Aren’t the two of them together in this? Both should have diamonds? Or none at all? When I married my second husband we both simply had gold bands. I thought he was a cheapskate though!

  4. I think that new slogan has a lot to do with man-made diamonds starting to catch hold in the market. We got one for the center stone in our wedding ring last year. Looked at it under a microscope and everything. You can’t tell the difference at all. The huge price difference has to be scaring diamond merchants to death though.

      1. Very true. Keep up the great posts too. People need the kind of analysis of the manipulation and hidden messages that you provide.


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