On the 31st of May, there was a headline in the Business Standard that probably many did not take notice of. “Diamonds aren’t forever.”
De Beer’s has launched a new company called Lightbox Jewellery which will sell a new brand of jewellery made of lab-grown diamonds.
According to an online article in Bloomberg, these diamonds are “Unlike imitation gems such as cubic zirconia, diamonds grown in labs have the same physical characteristics and chemical makeup as mined stones. They’re made from a carbon seed placed in a microwave chamber and superheated into a glowing plasma ball. The process creates particles that can eventually crystallize into diamonds in weeks. The technology is so advanced that experts need a machine to distinguish between synthesized and mined gems”.
De Beer’s founded in 1887 is one of the biggest conglomerates of companies that specialize in diamonds all through the vertical, from exploration to retail selling.
The interesting bit is that it’s thanks to De Beer’s sustained efforts over centuries that people across the world associate true love with diamonds. Any form of love and the celebration of its everlasting and cherished bonds is incomplete without the sparkle of this precious and sparkling gem.
For centuries De Beer’s has been looking down benignly at people who sell and use synthetic stones and have subliminally rubbed in the message that you are as worthless.
What then made De Beer’s take such a turn and a twist their stand?
One of the reasons is that Millennials in many parts of the world are looking at this changed world with new eyes. Many don’t have high paying jobs and for many others the future looks very uncertain. Neither jobs offer a life-time of income security nor do relationships look promising enough to last a lifetime. Also, those who do have the money would rather spend it on real experiences life travelling to other lands and soak in the culture or spend on gadgets that make their life easier. Love is no longer about giving gifts and charming, chasing or wooing the other but about companionship and resonance with no strings attached.
De Beer’s new competitor in lab grown diamonds the Diamond Foundary Inc. understood that earlier is rapidly capturing the market share.
And the story gets too riveting when you get to this part:
Up until the seventeenth century India was the only place in the world where diamonds were found and mined. They were considered precious because they were associated with aristocracy and potent planetary influences.
Later, the French were smitten by the sparkles and diamonds were only worn by kings and queens and was a symbol of power.
Then one day, a person called Cecil Rhodes stumbled upon a huge diamond mine in De Beer’s farmland in South Africa and this was soon followed by another huge mine discovered by another gentleman called Ernest Oppenheimer who threatened to flood the world with diamonds.
The two colluded to form one of the biggest cartels in the world. Supply was restricted, prices thus set.
Thereafter, De Beer’s carefully crafted a fantastic story about everlasting love cherished only with a diamond forever. So much so that most people do not even consider selling it back for it evokes guilt on reselling a precious gift given by a soul mate. A clever way to restrict supply even further.
There are so many stories that can be woven in here. Some of the threads worth mentioning are that most places in Africa where the diamonds are actually mined are some of the poorest and the most violent nations on earth. There are many heart-wrenching tales about children being shot dead by gangs who control these areas. Sierra Leone is one of them.
Later when people were horrified by the so-called blood diamond trails, countries started certifying diamonds under the Kimberley Process which stated that the particular diamond is taint free and can be bought by people without bothering about their conscience.
Well since then a lot of the diamond trade has shifted from Vienna to Surat in India. More on that some other time.
Finally it’s about how we get carried away by stories people tell, stories about love, happiness, success, progress and self-worth
These stories have been spinning around for a long time now and without really thinking we cast ourselves as heroes and villains. The plot designed by other for their benefit.
Next time you think of celebrating everlasting love, just cherish the moment. If it has to last, it will.
Diamonds or no Diamonds.