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hroughout time, most luxuries have been defined by the rarity of an object our society may consider luxurious. The true monetary value of something can be defined by many things, but when it comes to economics it’s scarcity that defines a high price on something. Corporations that have been around for well over 100 years are because they have established a recognizable brand by having a unique product.

However, there is a corporation that most of you have not heard about which has only become powerful by turning their common product into an artifact linked to our present social norms. This has been done in such a way that people were never able to see through the scam, but buy into it generation after generation.

For those that may have not caught on, this dispute is on diamonds. We all see them as quite valuable, but what is the true value behind them? This precious stone is actually the most common with an average of 133 million carats produced each year. There is little to no scarcity with this resource and yet the price seems to be going up with each passing year.

Rough Diamond (Source: Hao Zhang on Unsplash)

A rough diamond found in a mine is actually quite worthless, it is the process of cutting and shaping the diamond that gives it value, but does this labor match the premium tags placed on diamond jewelry? This fraudulent industry can be easily acknowledged with most jewelry websites selling the same lie, “Diamonds are expensive because they’re so rare.

History of the Diamond industry

Colonies

In order to get a better understanding, we need to have a look at how the modern diamond industry formed and how it reached to manipulate our society for years. It all began with the British and Dutch colonies that have established in South Africa during the early period of the 19th century. Cape Colony was one of the earliest British colonies that were established in 1806.

The main ideas behind foreign colonies were to find valuable resources which they can exploit on. Along the lines of history, mankind formed a taste for exotic things or things that not everyone has access to due to financial reasons. This was something colonists understood very well.

Nineteenth-Century Diamond Miners in South Africa. Laborers stand amid machinery for washing diamonds at the Bultfontein Diamond Mine near Kimberley, South Africa (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

In 1860 huge deposits of diamonds have been discovered in South Africa and colonists who had the financial power built mines and exported the diamonds to the western world. However, there were other big players already in the game and the industry was becoming more and more competitive, driving the profits down.

Foundation of De Beers Group

During that time, the biggest tycoons within the diamond industry were Cecil Rhodes and Barney Barnato. Seeing that the market was constantly getting more competitive, they decided to consolidate their existing companies and create a corporation that would slowly take on board all the other companies within the industry.

Contract of De Beers Consolidated Mines Limited signed on 12th of March 1888 by Cecil Rhodes and Barney Bornato (Source: De Beers Groups)

Therefore on the 12th of March 1888, the two tycoons consolidated their companies and created De Beers Group that followed to become the world’s most mischievous corporation. At the start of the 20th century, De Beers Group was already controlling 90% of the global diamond industry. De Beers Group wanted to control everything, the demand, the price, and its myths about diamonds.

Both of the World Wars had a huge impact on the price of diamonds as you would expect and by the end of World War II the corporation was at risk of bankruptcy as people who had the financial power were not intrusted to buy diamonds, they would rather spend their money on gold which is truly a scarcity.

Manipulating the world

De Beers planed the biggest scam through a marketing campaign in order to create demand for their diamonds. In 1945 the cinematographic industry was really exploding and De Beers started sponsoring different cinematographic companies, especially the big names in the western world. Their advertising campaign tried to sell the idea that a diamond would give someone status within society.

This is where luxuries presenting the social status of a person started in modern society. This aggressive worldwide marketing campaign was deceiving people into believing that diamonds are special and scarce when really they are just processed rocks.

The time when this fraud went next level at turning diamonds into a social norm is in 1953 when the movie “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes” came out. The main cast within the movie was none other than Marlyn Monroe, a legend within the Hollywood industry and one of the most loved actors of the 20th century. Whatever she would say the crowd would follow, the perfect time for De Beers to manipulate.

Marilyn Monroe being given diamonds by men (Source: Gentlemen Prefer Blondes)

De Beers had a big involvement in the production of this movie, where they made Monroe sing the song “Diamonds are a Girl’s best friend.” You get the idea…

The idea within the movie is that every girl deserves to have jewelry with diamonds. That their status as women and even beauty and administration from men is defined by the diamonds she receives. Every proposal ring should have a diamond, otherwise, the man is not worth it. This created a social norm where people learned that an engagement ring had to have a diamond.

After a week since the premiere of the movie the diamond market just exploded, with all the jewelry companies around the world requesting diamonds. Something that is very interesting is that if you look at the history section of the De Beers Group website you will not find this information. Are they ashamed? Most probably not because all they care about is money, as they have manipulated our society to only care about material things.

De Beers executed the most effective monopoly in history by keeping the price of diamonds high despite their abundance.

Changes in our society

Society looked down on those that didn’t propose to their special one with a diamond ring and it even turned many women to refuse a proposal if there was no diamond ring because it would affect their status and social image. No one likes to be judged or be placed in a bad image, but why do we let big corporations create criteria for what the perfect woman or man should be like?

With years passing and much more manipulative marketing campings, De Beers turned our society into what it is today, carrying more about material things that truly do not have any value rather than people themselves. We all literally put some rocks over people and that is not right.

However, this was the plan of the De Beers group since they formed in 1888, money knows no ethics. I don’t need to mention the cruelties and exploitations within the diamond industry that are also at the hand of this corporation.

You as the reader must admit that before reading this you thought that diamonds are rare, but sadly it is just another lie created by this corrupt system that we live in. We as a society should define the norms, criteria, and barriers. But our greed and gullibility will never allow us to do so, therefore monopolies such as this are in total control.

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