A case against diamond engagement rings
Treating a girl right, shouldn’t begin with diamond rings, of all things.
Jul 8, 2017
A Twitter thread recently made rounds online, but unlike others before it which became hits either for their humor (i.e. Tina and the Gucci flip flop) or practical use (i.e. love/lifehack threads), this one was criticized because of the blatant materialism that the user displayed through her narrative that followed her and an ex who proposed using a simple heirloom ring, much to her dismay as she was expecting diamond bling. Twitter users found the woman’s views to be too materialistic as she equated true love to something as trivial as a diamond ring.
The account has since been made private with the tweets no longer available for non-followers to see. Meanwhile, another user clarified that the events described in the tweets were not true and was actually a social experiment meant to find out what millennial men’s views were of the matter.
Despite the fictional nature of the thread, admit it or not, many women (and even men, as the social experiment would like to assess), like the hypothetical bride-to-be, believe that the rock is the ultimate symbol of an undying commitment to love and matrimony. This is thanks, of course, to the storied diamond retailer De Beers.
“A diamond is forever”
During the American Depression in the 1930s, De Beers tapped an advertising agency to come up with a campaign that will reinvigorate the diamond market in the US. And what better way to do that than to trick couples into thinking that a ring with a chunk of the the hardest known mineral is the greatest gift a man can bestow a woman he loves and wishes to be his wife? It took the ad agency some muscle to enforce this among Americans but what sealed the deal was a killer tagline which lives on until today: “A diamond is forever”.
Pretty soon, diamonds became a hot commodity not only in the US but also in Asia, specifically in Japan where De Beers also sought to market their propaganda.
Prior to the De Beers’s marketing ploy, using diamond rings to seal a marriage proposal was solely an aristocratic venture—the first written history about it being that of Mary of Burgundy’s, which was gifted by Archduke Maximilian of Austria in 1477.
A woman’s worth
Before diamonds were decidedly the logical choice for able men to show their love and ultimately their financial capability to back a wedding and later start a family, diamond rings were used to symbolize a woman’s worth as a virgin back when society placed a high premium on a lady’s “purity” before tying the knot.
“The Breach of Promise to Marry”, as it is called, according to an article by The Atlantic in 2012, allowed women to file legal charges to a man who jilts her after being intimate. And while, at that time, this put a woman in a compromised position because of her tainted value as a maiden, diamond rings assured them that they will not be entirely on the losing end as these precious stones are economically valuable.
Behind the famous tagline and prestige we have come to associate with diamond rings, are pervasive societal pressures imposed on women, that whether we like it or not, has come down to us, together with the customary of engagement rings, which to begin with was basically proof of ownership of women to their soon-to-be husbands when it first conceived during the ancient Egyptian times.
Whatever the purpose of the social experiment was, and whether the thread was able to achieve that, it was enough to spark a conversation on such a sexist social construct than has long been overdue for a deconstruction.
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