Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Valentine's Day Massacre

My wife and I don't celebrate Valentine's Day, but it's impossible to miss the litany of ridiculous commercials trying to get husbands and boyfriends to "prove" their love by shelling out for a diamond. My wife, in all of her glorious modesty, does not care for diamonds, and I never cared to buy one. Neither one of us believes that we need an outrageously expensive Thing to prove our love. We are in the minority. My wife's students, 13 yr olds, don't believe she's really married because she uses the Ms. prefix. Also, she conspicuously has "no bling," only a simple silver band. A lot of my friends are in the same sans-diamond boat as we are, but they also have similar points of view and similar financial status, but they too are in the minority. Most married women I know from work, family, friends of friends wear their diamonds with pride. It is proof that someone successful loves them.
Price and materialistic undertones are not the only reason we have consciously decided to not buy diamonds. I have felt that no matter what De Beers says (who doesn't trust De Beers?) that there is no such thing as a "conflict-free diamond". As it turns out, (and this does not happen often) my instincts are right. The Kimberly Process is not only ineffective, but basically unmonitored, and in reality creates another niche market for diamonds: the Whole Foods Diamond. The diamond it's OK to buy (and pay more for). Regardless of the conditions they were mined and produced in, diamonds, because of their appreciation and liquidity, are used as currency to fuel and fund conflicts around the globe. Diamonds are small and easy to transport and hide, retain their value better and are less traceable than currency, have more value per pound than currency, and are virtually impossible to destroy. Thus, they make the perfect medium for funding international war and terror.

I'm not trying to be holier than thou or preach at you. The fact is that I happened to be too poor to buy a rock when I got married, and have been lucky enough to get educated on their horrible impact since then. So do what you will this Valentine's Day. I can only choose for myself. But nothing says "I Love You" like driving your Hummer over to WalMart, crossing that picket line, and getting her some Chinese chocolates or Columbian roses spawned by slave labor. Don't forget the virgin paper greeting card with toxic glue on the envelope. I love you, baby.


The Arm said...

Lupe Fiasco has a track called "Conflict Diamonds" which is about this issue....good stuff. Here's a video:

The Swan said...

Good call, Moneymonk. If the conflict stuff ain't enough to disgust you, then maybe the fact that the diamond market really is a huge conspiracy of unregulated price fixing. De Beers and their cohorts have millions of diamonds locked away so as to keep diamonds "rare" enough to be expensive. They're really not rare at all.

Good NPR piece here.