Diamonds Aren’t Rare At All

“It is the diamond that chooses you.” —Andrew Coxon, President of De Beers

In A Nutshell

One diamond cartel, De Beers, has artificially driven up the price of diamonds for decades. A 1920s advertising campaign set a cultural expectation of diamonds as an expression of love that has endured since, and their scarcity is an illusion—emeralds, rubies, and sapphires are all more rare than diamonds (and much cheaper).

The Whole Bushel

When gigantic reserves of diamonds were discovered in South Africa in the mid-19th century, two things happened. Diamond mining took off, and there was a sudden flood of diamonds on the market. Before that time, diamonds were rare indeed. But this hasn’t been the case for well over a century, so why are diamonds so expensive?

The short answer is, they’re expensive because we expect them to be—because we’ll pay inflated prices for a stone that’s far more common than the price suggests. This is because of the most ingenious marketing strategy of all time, employed on behalf of De Beers Consolidated Mines, which controlled 90 percent of all diamond production on the planet by the turn of the century. The N.W. Ayer advertising agency devised the campaign in 1947 based around a simple tagline which you may have heard: “A Diamond Is Forever.” The agency recognized that there would be resistance, especially among lower-income groups, to essentially being forced to buy an absurdly expensive rock in order to get married. “It is essential,” they therefore argued, “that these pressures be met by the constant publicity to show that only the diamond is everywhere accepted and recognized as the symbol of betrothal.”

Obviously, the strategy worked and continues to work to this day. The desired size and cut of the stone, the “three months’ salary” guideline—all a result of a marketing campaign that’s over half a century old. Diamonds are only crystallized carbonite, after all—one of the most abundant substances in the universe—and far less expensive stones, like your run-of the-mill emeralds, sapphires, and rubies, are actually more rare than diamonds are.

Show Me The Proof

The Incredible Story Of How De Beers Created And Lost The Most Powerful Monopoly Ever
Bloomberg: Maybe Diamonds Aren’t Forever
The Atlantic: Have You Ever Tried to Sell a Diamond?

  • Nigel van Dalfsen

    I agree that they manipulate the value of these stones, but 1 of the reasons ( they say) that the price stays the same, is because of the industrial applications that are aviable for diamonds.

  • Happyspanners

    “Crystalized carbonite…” I think you mean “carbon”.

    • Delta King

      Han Solo was frozen in Carbonite wasn’t he? Jabba had some BANK.

  • celeѕтнra

    Meh, I was never attracted/have any interest in diamonds. They’re so plain and boring (in my opinion). I prefer gems with vibrant colours like sapphire and amethyst.

    • Valkyrie

      Emeralds for me ..

    • Michael

      If you like colors you should try Fancy colored Diamonds, the brilliance of diamonds far surpasses that of gems.

      You are welcome to get impressed at https://denirdiamonds.com

      • fish4man61

        Um, no, not even close.
        Some 15 gems have higher brilliance than diamonds. In fact, rutile, a fairly inexpensive one, has the highest refractive indices at visible wavelengths of any known crystal.

  • Ken

    I have never read more uninformed pieces of garbage as these knowledgenuts. I may have to stop following listverse if they are going to continue to post such rubbish. I can go into a Wal-Mart store and buy a diamond ring for under $100. Its not real gold mind you but the diamonds are real. Real and quite large. The reason they are so cheap it they are of poor quality. Diamonds are plentiful. Excellent quality diamonds are not quite so plentiful. Nothing has value other than that which we place on an item. Its obvious that whoever writes these little articles has a serious chip on their shoulder. They seem to hate anything relating to capitalism, successful businesses, white people or the United States. Reminds me of the revisionist history being spouted by the socialists (progressives if you prefer).

    • Spartacross

      Wal-Mart diamonds for around $100 are essentially diamond…dust.
      Any 1.0 carat diamond costs about $5,000. And the price increases exponentially.

      No, the article is accurate. The diamond culture has been nurtured side by side by the De Beers global monopoly.

      De Beers top executives cannot even enter the US because of their continuing violation of anti-monopoly laws.

      • Christine

        No, Spartacross, Ken is right. It’s the quality of the stone that sets the price.

        You can go into a Kay jewelers store and get a 1.0 low quality diamond ring for maybe 3k, but a higher quality diamond that is maybe half that size may retail for the same price or even more.

        • MIttens

          It’s the four C’s with Diamonds: Carat, Cut, Colour and Clarity. These things are what determine the quality and therefore price of a diamond.

        • Ian Moone

          3k is still way to much to pay for a fairly plentiful rock.

      • Jack Shen

        I think Spartacross has a point. from what I know, De Beers and I believe the Oppenheimers are referred to the Diamond cartel for a reason. There are places that will create diamonds for you, with great clarity from anything that contains carbon. Shoot they can make a diamond out of the cremated remains of a loved one.

        on the other hand some diamonds are truly rare, like the Hope diamond. The qualities it possesses are very rare.

        Here’s a link if anyone is interested:
        http://voices.yahoo.com/the-history-behind-debeers-diamond-cartel-12119.html

        • Limesy

          I think what ALL of you are trying to say is that THERE ARE MANY FACTORS involved when debating the complex history of diamond mining, production and sale. People today are so concerned with every argument being absolutely one side or the other that they lose sight of the complexity that is modern life. Nothing is simple, so quit being so simple and narrow minded.

          • Jack Shen

            you hit the nail on the head Limesy

    • Timone

      I’m curious as to what article makes you think the authors hate white people.

  • inconspicuous detective

    see, this is why i’m not buying a diamond ring for engagement. it’s just silly, and i want it to have more meaning that “oh look a shiny rock!”

    • Some Dude

      THat’s implying you’ll ever get engaged. You’d have to go outside to do that.

      • inconspicuous detective

        i wonder, do you require a mirror to make your comments? because i can’t image you saying to me and not thinking of yourself when you sound so stupid.

        • Some Dude

          Have a good one, weaboo.

    • MinhSoupanousinphone

      Good, bye a nutmeg ring.

  • MinhSoupanousinphone

    Girls love diamonds, I love nutmeg, diamonds aren’t rare, nutmeg isn’t rare, but they all want a diamond ring, maybe in stead of being greedy they could just have a nutmeg ring.

    • Sewo

      The demon son Nutmeg! You heretical fool! You will burn at the stakes!

      Srs. It looks like a demonical turd.

      • MinhSoupanousinphone

        ??

        • Sewo

          !!!

  • IvLiberty

    I never understood the hype behind diamonds anyway especially since many people lose their lives over a rock that only adds a fictitious quality of life. Propaganda is real. The first documentary I watched about diamonds was on Frontline years ago (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s4c1p_DMkIw). It is a must see.

  • J_Doe5686

    I like Emeralds better, Diamonds are so common and after reading this article no wonder!

  • robertrobin10 .

    diamonds are more common than you think,just go to any large hardware store and buy a diamond saw blade(steel with diamonds embedded in it)yes diamonds are that common but the large ones are very rare.

  • sabretruthtiger

    Women will always want the man’s wealth, it’s biological. If it’s not diamonds it’s something else. One notes that even after the intensive feminist campaigns men still spend much more in a relationship financially than women do.