Tips and Tricks

Are Diamonds Rare?

When you shell out more money on a diamond, there are all kinds of lies you tell yourself to make this transaction feel better:

  • A diamond engagement ring is an once in a lifetime gift (hopefully).
  • A diamond is a family heirloom my great-great-grandchildren will judge me by.
  • A diamond is rare and that’s why they cost as much as a kidney transplant.

Two of the above statements are true. Unfortunately for your wallet, it’s not the last one.

If diamonds aren’t rare, why are they priced like all the mines have closed up shop? Especially when there are gorgeous, and truly rare gemstones from now depleted mines, like the ocean-blue Paraiba tourmalines from Brazil.

Here’s why diamonds aren’t rare and still expensive.

Image of a sparkling heart cut diamond with a black background

Why Do Diamonds Cost So Much?

Diamonds are Forever?

At the turn of the last century diamonds were actually scarce when suddenly loads of them were discovered in South Africa. To make a very long (and sordid) story short, we owe a big round of applause to De Beers and their advertising agency’s very talented (and female) copywriter for making diamonds THE only jewel to express your eternal love and devotion with.

Fun history fact:  De Beers' advertising agency, N.W. Ayer, wasn’t a fan of copywriter Frances Gerety’s 1947  tagline “A Diamond is Forever”,  but tolerated it long enough for the line to prove itself in a way that no other tagline in history has done. At the time, diamonds were down in popularity thanks to that real bummer: The Great Depression.

In other words, De Beers not only manufactured the tradition of giving a diamond engagement ring as the thing to do, via successful advertising campaigns, but also the illusion of scarcity - all while they held the keys to the diamond mines.

Where Does The Hefty Price Tag Come From?

Two words. False scarcity.

Think you’d never fall for the oldest trick in the book? Think again.

False scarcity goes much deeper than an over-caffeinated salesperson or diamond dealer telling you the ring you’ve just fallen in love with (the one that sparkles in all the right places) is the only one like it. In the store. In the state. On planet Earth.

And they aren’t exactly lying.

What they aren’t telling you is that they’ve made it that way.

By limiting the supply of new diamonds that make it from mine to market a year, De Beers can ensure that there’s not enough bling to go around for everyone who is planning on saying “I do.”

From there it’s just basic supply and demand economics, meaning when supply is down, diamond prices go up. And because we all love that sparkle, we’re willing to look the other way and take out one more credit card just to get the carat size we want.

Not Everyone Wants a Diamond Forever

Say what you will about Millennials, but when it comes down to it they don’t buy into tradition for the sake of tradition -- and diamond engagement rings are no different.

Many Millennials just aren’t interested in getting hitched and if you’re not tying the knot anytime soon, there’s really no need for an engagement ring. Besides, with all that student debt they’ve racked up, living together sans ring until their loans are paid off in year 2056 seems like a more practical idea.

When you consider financial, ethical, and personal choices not to wed, Millennials are helping to swing the diamond-buying tradition into a new direction.

The Bottom Line on Diamond Value

Whether you’re a staunch traditionalist who loves her diamonds (like me) or excited about other non-diamond (and truly rare) engagement ring choices, the value of a diamond should be determined by you and your partner -- not the diamond guys.

And since we’re not the diamond guys, we can sleuth out the best deal on diamonds anywhere (online or off) if you do decide that a diamond is forever, after all.

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