Then our teacher gave another analogy. He asked if people would rather have natural ice or human-made ice in their water. He broke down that the human-made ice could be frozen in a freezer to a custom size/shape, be a lot cleaner, consistent in how you make it, and chemically no different than H20 than naturally occurring frozen water. As you looked around the lecture hall, you started to see people’s brains unlock. He went on to explain cost efficiencies, ethics, challenges with conflict diamonds, and how you could make a perfect diamond at a fraction of the coast.
After a 30 minute lecture, he asked the question again. Surprisingly, the majority of the women still wanted natural diamonds although the number was less than the original amount that raised their hand. That was the point where I realized the strength of diamonds product branding.
She described what she wanted exactly– nothing gaudy or ostentatious, just a singular, tasteful stone on a plain band. Couldn't be simpler, could it?
Finding stones that met her criteria was easy. Some were natural diamonds, some lab grown, many moissanite. From the outset, she said the meaning of the ring was what was most important and that she didn't want to pick it out herself (after effectively picking it out herself). We'd talked about moissanite a lot over the years, and she'd approved of the idea, and the same with lab grown diamonds. We're college educated adults with backgrounds in the sciences, so we weren't on uneven footing with comprehension.
When I showed her what I'd picked out, it quickly devolved into a lot of uncharacteristic tears and shouting. It took a few more tries, and then she explained. Apparently a lab grown diamond meant my love for her was also artificial, a budgeted ersatz stand-in for the real thing, and me saying we could spend more on a larger stone or matching set further belied my ignorance. No, she wanted me to have picked out an allegory for our love: a "perfect" diamond. She then sent me the details of the stone she actually wanted.
After a little "wait, where's this coming from and why did you let me spend weeks searching if there was only one right answer", I ended up spending twice our decided budget on a "natural" diamond with the same characteristics as the lab grown (except the diamond's clarity was lower, because lab grown clarity is always perfect), which wasn't any object, but now the ring is marred by the memories of arguments, and she doesn't really love it. Lesson learned.
I don't know what kind of spell the diamond people cast on otherwise reasonable women to make them able to reduce the totality of a life and experiences shared together into a single crystalline bet, but they need to package it and sell it to the military.
The militaries of the world invented it, it's business that bought it. Much of this diamond/marriage symbolism stems back to the late 1940s post WWII with DaBeer's engagement ring ad campaigns.
WWII involved a lot of R&D in psyops and effects of propoganda. Sure, these strategies always existed but it became part of scientific research, was refined and weaponized to manipulate perceptions of people using non-kinetic approaches to try and avoid or minimize kinetic warfare. After the war in the mid 40s ended, where do you think all that expertise in propoganda from military went? Business marketing and advertising sprouted from much of this expertise. Marketing and advertising always existed before then but there was a dramatic shift in how things were sold creating armies of refined snake oil salesmen.
In the late 40s, DaBeers ran a massive ad campaign employing such propoganda that shifted culture into associating diamond rings with marriage. There had been dowries and other exchanges of wealth and power in marriages before (it's often been a basis for marriage) that but DaBeers managed to shift that in culture in the west to the diamond ring. It's now so deeply ingrained in culture and people's perceptions that it can make otherwise rational people irrational.
Do not ever underestimate the power of propoganda in its various forms. Pyschogical manipulation runs rampant in business marketing and these are the effects. We've culturally accepted it for a variety of reasons. I question if we should continue to accept these practices in business.
If I buy a 3-month salary worth diamond I'm probably not gone leave you after a month.
Its an easily portable high value item that also serves as signaling for the person wearing it. It makes more sense then livestock in the modern world.
Marketing had something to do with it, but its more complex then that.
Jewelry is not a great value store, unless you're fine with selling it at a significant loss. Diamonds specially, unless they're rare, seem to magically lose a lot of its value as soon as they print your receipt.
To be honest, I find the whole love-engagement-sex-wedding handling retrograde and inappropriate for the current times.
And displaying the wealth that is mobile is also an important signal.
Pure economics would suggest a small gold bar would make more sense if you want to signal commitment.
> To be honest, I find the whole love-engagement-sex-wedding handling retrograde and inappropriate for the current times.
Me to but that is not the discussion.
Neither is a car, but they're both still very strong signals of wealth (specifically, that you could afford to burn the money).
However, if you want jewelry as a value store, you deal in gold and silver (mainly that it can be melted down)
For the overview: https://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2012/04/the-str...
The original research paper: Margaret F. Brinig,
Journal of Law, Economics, & Organization Vol. 6, No. 1 (Spring, 1990), pp. 203-215 (13 pages), https://www.jstor.org/stable/764797
Wikipedia page on Breach of Promise to Marry: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Breach_of_promise
We went through over a dozen jewelry stores, each of them pushing mined diamonds so hard that it angered us. The eventual solution wasn't even that we found an amenable jewelry store. We ended up obtaining a ring via a private transfer from a family member. While the ring contains a mined diamond, it has quite a bit of sentimental value and didn't really put price pressure on the public market. It was a good solution for us, but obviously not scalable!
If I said it once, I have said it a million times, if your SO insists on a diamond from the ground as opposed to a lab, say fine, but I am getting my shots flying to Africa and will mine it myself. It won't matter if you bring back a opaque brown rock, with 0 marketing your SO would wear it with pride and most others would be jealous when they hear the story behind it.
It goes hand in hand with your obtaining a stone from family and the sentiment of it. My Mom has 5 boys and my Dad gave her a ring with 5 diamonds, and she has made 1 available to each of us for an engagement ring, which she would replace with the birthstone of each son. As you say its not scalable, and no one ever marketed the idea, but the sentiment is extremely powerful.
You might be surprised of the acceptance of an outsider showing a willingness to roll up their sleeves and experience something real not just sip drinks on a beach resort, even if it is for a day or two. Similarly if you met a child laborer or former child soldier outside those conditions, odds are you would have no idea of their personal experience.
I have met many child refugees that have more Worldly experience than most adults, yet if I did not represent them in asylum proceedings and meet them while they were detained, they would have simply appeared as children in my eyes. I have been part of law clinics that represented torture victims from some of the regimes you have in mind. The child soldiers, much less the child laborers, are not mercing people for their cell phones.
If you are a reader, I might suggest two books: 1) The Evolution of Deadly Conflict in Liberia; and 2) Storming the Court.
That's a great idea, but I don't know of any place you could do that in real life. Diamonds can be very valuable depending on size, color, clarity etc. Diamond mines have heavy security around their miners to ensure a tiny little diamond doesn't go missing.
There is zero chance they'd let a tourist in.
Someone I know smuggled a diamond purchased in South Africa for their spouse and the diamond and story behind that were both well appreciated.
Agreed, but I was OK with spending the money, what really bothers me is how worthless diamonds are. Metals have a relatively free market, many uses, and are fungible, so the pricing is more in line with reality.
The knot was then packaged inside of a chest, as a reminder of the promise they made on their Wedding Day. And as far as I know, they still have that chest with them, and the Knot is still tied.
For humans, it's, "I have excess resources I can afford to burn according to the socially-accepted ritual or test, so when you bear my offspring, you can be sure I will also have excess capacity to provide for both you and your offspring."
A female may have second thoughts about choosing you as a mate if you appear to cheat at the test or don't do the test right.
Again, IMHO, one of the biggest problems in life is solving the problem of being alone, and for nearly everyone the best solution is a really good marriage.
Here is a secret scorecard:
You give knowledge of yourselves to each other, that is, keep your spouse well informed on your thoughts and feelings.
You really care about each other.
You respect and respond to each other.
Neither of you tries to manipulate, fool, or exploit your spouse.
You can trust each other.
IMHO, it is good to do well on this scorecard.
It's all about status signaling. The whole concept of the ring is a literal status symbol, signaling you're off the market. We can get upset about this particular status signal all we want, but it's not as if it's any less moral than any other status signal we participate in. That new phone was made by slaves. The car was built by raw materials mined in awful ways, possibly with slave labor. We can't go down this rabbit hole with everything in our life. I recommend making small nudges when we can in our own lives, but try not to get too worked up over any of them, it's not good for your mental health.
In any case, the spell doesn't work on everyone.
I think the comments attacking your partner may be assuming that this "uncharacteristic tears and shouting" was some sort of irrational hysteria rather than the boiling-over of simmering problems.
Maybe I'm the one reading too far into it though.
I don't think there's any glaring issue with either party above, but it's like you expect all women in your life to be like many people on HN — hyper-rational, utilitarian devs who would never want a mined diamond because a cheaper artificial one with better clarity exists. It's not wrong, but it's not right - there is no right answer here. Traditional ideas of romance are a powerful force.
It's also a weird interpretation. My response would have been something like "moissanite has better visual properties, is free of all slave/conflict concerns, and saves us money for the honeymoon, so our love shines brighter, is built on a pure foundation, and will give us experiences we'll never forget".
More over it's extremely materialistic. Someone who loves you is pledging their life to you. Assuming the ring in question is fundamentally tasteful, is it too much to ask to focus on the life pledge instead of the $$ value of the symbol?
But I guess I lucked out. My wife rarely takes off her vintage ring with syntehtic rubies and a couple of tiny real accent diamonds on yellow gold (because that's what it came with). I knew her aesthetic tastes and got her something that matched those tastes, and it's unique enough that it stands out amongst her sisters/friends. And it certainly wasn't two months' salary, which she well knows. We didn't have that amount in savings at the time.
On the note of carnations for Valentine's Day, I'd view it in much the same way. Unless she's told you how much she adores and prefers carnations on Valentine's Day, roses are the best bet.
My partner and past partners have always fit that type, and I don't think either is lucky or better or right. I personally enjoy the tradition and the unspoken symbolism in the gifts, and striving to make her happy without it being spelled out for me.
I'm happy you have someone who makes you feel lucky, and who matches your preferences for communication and a relationship — finding that is possibly the greatest feeling in life. I simply aim to point out that either are valid, normal preferences and dynamics, as opposed to one being gaslighting.
Um, she did say with regards to the gem, that's the confusing part.
If you ever want to chat about something though, feel free to reach me at the email in my profile. Always great to meet new people, especially in these times. :)
If you want to get a ring for your significant other, the whole point is to buy something unnecessary as a symbol of the organic constance of your love. Nobody needs a diamond ring. If you tell a woman that her diamond came from a lab, you should accompany that fact with a better narrative than "this was the most economical rock available within your preference constraints."
She wants to love her ring, so give her a reason. Tell her that you wanted to buy her something big without feeling like it was an extravagant use of your shared nest egg. Explain why gem clarity is so important to you, because your vision of the future as a couple is unmarred by doubt. Talk about how lab-grown gems are a more ethical trade and symbolize a desire to avoid unnecessary conflict in your relationship. Remind her that even a diamond is not forever, so if she wants another ring next year you'd be happy to propose again with a superior gem.
I'm not understanding this. What other way to take this is there? "I'm no expert, but" is indicating that -- oh, I think I see what you mean by the non-literal meaning, maybe.
The literal meaning would be a disclaimer as to how much others should take one's perspective into account / how much others should trust/believe what one is saying,
whereas the non-literal meaning would be indicating that the situation is kind of sarcastic or something, either because one is well versed in the topic, and therefore should be considered credible, or because the thing being said is obvious and usually shouldn't even need to be said.
Is that right? Is this the distinction you meant?
edit : I'm sure I'm kind of serving as an example of your point by saying this, but, whatever, I don't regard that as a problem.
I don't think I've ever met anybody in real life that interacted the way HNers do. I always assumed it was a social affect where everybody pretends to be a robot because that's the culture of the site, in the same way people form pun chains on reddit. Is this an American thing, or maybe just a software engineer thing? I mean, I work in the software industry as a developer (granted, in the UK) so I figured I would've run into it by now if it were industry specific.
Well, I believe I've seen experts saying that they aren't an expect in the particular sub-topic in question, even if they are an expert in (another sub-topic of) the same general topic. Like, saying that there are people with more expertise than them in the specific sub-topic at hand. And maybe they might phrase this as "I'm not an expert" without specifying the specific subtopic, before commenting on a question of the specific sub-topic. This doesn't strike me as figurative though. Perhaps I've just been misinterpreting though, and they mean "I'm not an expert" figuratively, rather than literally meaning "I'm not an expert in this specific sub-topic"?
I think the "everyone pretends to be a robot" is, partially a software engineer thing? (Or, rather, correlated with the sort of person who would enjoy programming-ish stuff. ) Not literally pretending to be a robot. Rather, a combination of naturally acting in a certain way that could be described as analogous in some ways to a robot, and an imitation (and sometimes exaggeration) of behaviors which one has seen in oneself and in others who one kinda "identifies with",
or aspiring towards an ideal or idea which has been constructed around those kinda of behaviors (possibly with this idea including things that aren't really naturally part of the behaviors, but by accidents of chance and misunderstanding, became part of a cultural idea ).
I've previously told someone that I don't really ever "feel like a robot", but I do often "feel like the sort of person who would sometimes 'feel like a robot' " .
> Yeah, I agree. I'd go even further and say that although the tech conversations on HN are substantive, the vast majority of non-tech conversations are devoid of social awareness
Social signaling and status symbols come up frequently on HN, and in this thread no less. Truly, in ordinary circles these concepts don’t come up and people aren’t even aware that what they’re doing is a concept that’s studied.
These social signals are a core human survival mechanisms since at least the birth of agriculture. When the climate turned for the worse or food was scarce, nomadic tribes just migrated to an environment with better conditions. In an agricultural society, clans had to develop a different mechanism that took advantage of agriculture's strength: large surpluses around harvest time that couldn't easily be stored through the winter. This is where the concept of banquets was born and there's archaeological evidence of hunter-gatherers and farmers participating in them together in the Early Neolithic, when agriculture just getting started.
Instead of moving to find food, humans adapted to create strong social bonds between clans by elaborate social signals. Banquets, parties, and feasts were fundamentally saying "we've got a surplus now and we'll share it with you with the understanding that you'll share your surplus when you have one." Dowries and marriages were just a formalization of that unspoken social contract. Today someone might throw a big wedding or party as a show of status but back then, they were grand events because all of the best food spoiled quickly and it served zero purpose to hoard it.
That said, what the diamond ring industry has evolved into is something quite new.
Good post which I don't mean to detract from, but this is certainly not true.
Even before sapiens, erectus and neanderthalensis were big game hunters. Sapiens in particular developed the tools for mass killings of migratory herds of large animals, and the ability to set fish traps for harvesting spawning runs.
Both of these left early hunter gatherers with abundant surpluses of meat at certain times of year, so much that preservation was the limiting factor in getting those calories into bodies. We know the response of the Tlingit people to this bounty from very recent history: they would throw huge banquets called potlatches.
They didn't make it up, they just made a display of wealth (and therefore social status) associated with their product. Brands do that all the time but the signal has always existed.
The advertising serves to put the association between the product and wealth into the common knowledge - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Common_knowledge_(logic). Or in other words, everybody knows that everybody knows that rings are expensive.
> Social signals that cost significant resources for something worthless are stupid.
No, you just don't understand social signals, which was my point. The "costing significant resources" part is the whole idea. Wedding rings and fresh kicks aren't expensive because they're valuable, they're valuable because they're expensive. If you want to understand the idea, check out https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Signalling_theory#Honest_signa.... It makes perfect sense (ie, it's rational).
It's equivalent to saying, "I am willing to burn all of this valuable money to prove that I value you".
If we only bought things that were of purely-material value, we'd stop at food, weather-protective but un-aesthetic clothing, and basic shelter. Everything beyond those is social (or hyperreal).
> No, you just don't understand social signals, which was my point.
I don't think OP denies the utility of signaling, only that as an intelligent human being, one must not feel absolutely helpless in accepting and perpetuating all instances of signaling that their peers do.
There are many different cultures with strong means of signaling one's devotion to a partner, without having to essentially burn a small fortune to enrich an exploitative industry. It doesn't even have to be non-materialistic. Many cultures have the gold ring/necklace. It's a signal of a fortune spent, and a retained safety net because gold is tradable.
After rationally agreeing not to get anything (because we were about to move overseas on a couple of luggages and didn't want extra stuff) my SO got me 3 (3!! usually it was one per event) gifts and I was empty handed.
And I had to resell / returns some of the items as we were moving anyway and we could just buy better quality stuff later on, without having to pay for the move.
Never thought of that. I'd imagine the ensuing conversation is even more problematic though? "What do you mean you don't have a birthday? That makes no sense!"
I mean, if I have to put it on a form, that's one thing, but like office people don't need to know when it is.
Maybe could also tack on that you count winters to tell your age.
I'd be much more disappointed in some useless trinket I don't need and would feel obligated to keep.
Why then a ring [with a diamond] at all? It's nothing special at all, just what everyone does. Almost the definition of replaceability and arbitrariness. There is no connection between the relationship and a random ring with a stone you buy at some random jewelry store. Why not something individual, specific to the relationship? Every $1 toy ring used as a wedding ring is more personal and telling than any thousands of dollars ring with a diamond.
Both times I got engaged (only got married once, though), I brought my partner to the jewellery store to pick out rings we both liked, as it would be something we'd be wearing for a non-determined time and I'd say that being happy with that trumps the whole "propose with a ring out of nowhere in public".
And thus, when somebody "irrationally" buys a "worthless" ring for a hefty amount, it signals to some extent that one is serious, committed and financially capable of the proposed marriage.
It's often not that the partner wants the expensive thing, but more that they want a proof that the marriage is worth more than that expensive and useless thing, which they want precisely because it's useless objectively and the purchase is "irrational".
It's basically a trolley problem of "do I value my partner more, or my hard earned $XXXX more?" The forced irrational choice makes the game rational on a meta level. I don't disagree that the game kind of sucks, and there are other ways to build trust and understanding regarding the level of commitment between partners, but I consider the ring thing to be the "easy" way to do it. (which is why it's de-facto standard in many cultures)
I think the hatred against capitalism and marketing is slightly off the mark here, since capitalism is merely supplying these expensive things to satisfy the somewhat "biological" demand in our mating rituals. Capitalists might be unscrupulous, but somebody had to do it.
(Disclaimer in case it matters - I'm male, happily married to my wife, and bought a non-diamond ring as an engagement ring. I don't think this necessarily applies to any gender in any specific case, but generally speaking so far as humans are animals, the biological aspect dominates)
Humans are rational animals. Yes, obviously we have natural inclinations (they aren't irrational, btw; they have a purpose and only when the inclination is disordered, deficient, excessive, or we behave in ways opposed to the good when moved by the inclination can we speak of irrationality). However, we can make errors in judgement when interpreting signs and relating these signs to our inclinations. Marketing is often actively engaged in confusing people when it comes to what things mean. And when we get the meanings of signs wrong, we relate things erroneously to our natural inclinations. So this very recent practice of buying extravagant diamond rings beyond our means is the product of psychological manipulation and deceit that exploits vice and inclination by effectively lying about what an overpriced diamond ring signals.
It would be an error to assume that a woman from a culture that values thrift would react positively to such a gift, much less demand it. She might be left thinking that the man is financially irresponsible. Most cultures do not make spending obscene amounts of money on a ring a common practice. The engagement ring has historically been a symbolic gesture, not a demonstration of irresponsibility, immodesty, profligacy, and vanity.
In the case of peacocks, they ARE their plumage. Their plumage is not a sign of seriousness, but a sign of fitness and health and shaped by inherent traits and female selection (her interpretation or recognition that the better the plumage, the better the health), not male initiative. The peacock also isn't willing his plumage.
You can just as easily construe the ring as a test of your potential wife's character. If she refuses to marry you because you haven't spent a fourth or more of your salary on a ring, then good riddance. Who wants to be saddled with a fraudulent, vain, and vapid creature like that. She would make a terrible mother.
These days people get married with somebody they met on Tinder for a month because "true love". The weight of a promise from a person you met for a couple weeks and from a family you've known for decades is different, which accounts for the modern inventions you despise as compensation.
I mean, I'm not saying this expensive ring thing is a desirable game to play, and I don't disagree that there are vain people out there, but the ring serves a particular purpose in the mating game of modern society, not just to satisfy some people's vanity.
(btw, if you think about it, an engagement ring isn't inherently that great for showing off. Most people put it away in a little box and wear a less conspicuous ring anyway.)
If this is what the other person expects out of a relationship it's time to jump ship ASAP.
There's nothing wrong with wanting a 'natural' diamond. But to mislead your partner as part of some sick test, and then make them feel like dirt for not having passed?
Women do this all the time. I agree it’s not a good behavior.
I'm wondering how, if you picked it out, she even knew the diamond was lab grown? Did she start grilling you immediately? Or did she get the microscope out? Maybe I'm a total moron but I can't tell the difference by just looking at it.
It reminds me of the scene in Lord of War about the atrocity of a “used gun”.
The right “used” diamonds are often received better than fresh natural diamonds by recipients. But that depends a lot on the “origin story”.
If we can grow a perfect diamond, of seemingly any size, then finding a large, clear natural diamond is more special than buying a manufactured diamond. Then there’s the time involved, The natural process taking much more time. It’s hard for me to see why people think they are equivalent. Approaching an emotional subject with a logical mind won’t work. Yes they are the same but really they’re not.
Edit: As I said in another reply, there's nothing illogical about it. If value is placed culturally and socially on natural diamonds, then they are valuable, regardless of if that value is "artificially" created via advertising of whatever. Lots of stuff is quite stupid if you look at it objectively, out of context. Doesn't mean it isn't true in context.
EDIT: Just did a ctrl-f for NFT and I guess I wasn't the first to say that, although those comments are much lower on the page.
I do not think you would have had a better experience if you did not include her.
There is a right answer.
She absolutely will not tell it to you.
If you guess wrong that means you don’t love her.
I just tire of the subterfuge.
There is no difference in the quality of those pens. They both work the same, and using the writer's pen will not make you a better writer by itself.
I personally would not buy a natural diamond because of the ethical issues, but I do understand the students who feel there is a difference.
The elephant in that lecture hall was probably the hypocrisy.
I think if you still raise a hand after hearing all that, the issue isn't branding at all. It's narcissim, that people have to die so you can maintain the illusion of...of what?
That's the difference.
I talked about this with my wife recently, and even though she had a vague idea of the horrors that mined diamonds bring, she'd still continue to buy/want mined diamonds. She sees mined diamonds as more "real", and finds it difficult to believe that her diamonds in particular would be part of the problem - as if it somehow would only affect diamonds purchased in dodgy, back-room deals. She seems to think it's OK because "everyone else does it". No amount of discussion of verifiable facts seems to change that view; indeed, she got quite annoyed with me, and didn't want to discuss it any further.
A large part of the problem is conditioning, through both advertising and tradition. In the west, we are conditioned from an early age to believe that "diamonds are a girl's best friend", that women should accept nothing less that a "real" diamond, and that men should spend some silly multiple of their salary when buying such a diamond. Diamonds are synonymous with luxury.
What we really need is a big, sustained campaign against mined diamonds, really putting the horrors in the faces of potential customers, so they have to accept the damage mined diamonds cause,and accept that they are part of the problem. Such a campaign probably needs to be fronted by celebrities - inspirational figures that people will listen to.
I whole-heartedly applaud Pandora for making the first move here - hopefully this will help to break the stalemate and be the start of a much bigger movement.
Obviously you and I see that even that line of reasoning alone jacks up demand for an awful business, but not all people have the capacity to reason that abstractly about how their behaviour plays a part in a very big aggregate.
My wife did get this after some discussion, but we got stuck with a different problem: we asked virtually every local jeweller to create something with a lab-created diamond (or even a different shiny rock entirely) and all of them -- to our astonishment -- refused.
They only work with mined diamonds from the suppliers they have long-standing contracts with and can ensure are as ethical as they come. I'm sure they have their reasons but that was very frustrating.
Although it looks like Gemesis, the company I bought the synthetic diamonds from, has pivoted and rebranded as Pure Grown Diamonds, and sells wholesale rather than retail now.
ooooo now there is a signal. Putting in the time and effort to find/get a jeweller to make me a custom ring with a lab-created diamond when no one will. Unique, expensive. Not something he can just order from the internet.
Because lets just cut to the chase. The diamond is all about the story, the signal and what it represents, not what it is.
I would guess it's profit, with mined diamonds being more expensive than engineered ones?
A normal person who repeatedly throws aside a full heart in favor of facts will not wake up singing for many years. There needs to be a new song to replace the old, something as emotionally filling as DeBeers shadow demons dancing to a swelling string section.
Getting people to care about who’s winning and losing in a production lifecycle seems like something that doesn’t get fixed initially with the diamond-buying crowd when the shoe-buying consumers don’t even care.
I think what I’m struggling to get at is that the diamond-buying population at least have these earnest “noble ideals” of love, unity, etc represented by this product for which at some low level the sacrifice and blood may _add_ value (god knows what unconscious calculus is at work in the mind of a grown princess). Compare this to a pair of crap tennis shoes that you’re going to throw away, where they are completely utilitarian, replaceable, and you have zero emotional investment in what they represent. The suffering represented by the product offers nothing other than the blatant profit of the consumer. And we can’t wrest the shoes from the consumer’s hands no matter what is said about the abysmal conditions that produced them.
All of these conditions in the production of these products are known. Nobody can claim ignorance in the first world. If the population at large hasn’t had a moment of moral clarity by now, I’m not sure I’d hold my breath any longer. Either systemically the culture needs to be more open to moral awakenings (a hard sell in a world defined by deconstructionism) or a new and acceptable critique of globalism at a policy level needs radical change.
Just my .02 but I’ve been hearing the same convo about diamonds since I was a kid and it’s as sad as hearing the rationalizing of any addict.
The suicide rate in those factories is greater than zero but is not high at all. You picked the wrong analogy.
You can iterate on the above. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Synthetic_diamond would be a starting point for getting more specifics. Hmm, it says: "A third method, known as detonation synthesis, entered the diamond market in the late 1990s. In this process, the detonation of carbon-containing explosives creates nanometer-sized diamond grains." Fuck yeah, my diamond was made with high explosives! Might prefer one of those because of the awesome factor.
If I could rephrase it a bit more clinically, the signaling of fitness (wealth, social status, etc) is important to the human mating rituals. And diamonds are integral to that in a some cultures. That underlying need is probably innate will not change. Therefore, as you said, you can't just say "NO", it needs to be replaced with something else.
In the end, we just can't seem to take our eyes and minds off the shiny things, even knowing that we're merely gazing at the glare of hubris.
Based on San Francisco's experience, I'd say spending other people's money isn't enough to do much about the homeless issue. Further, I suspect a startup that moves the economy upwards results in citizens with more disposable income to donate to good causes. Ideally, the competition for those funds leads to increased effectiveness from those good causes (because I'm not going to donate to someone who doesn't efficiently get food to the mouths of the hungry so to speak).
Also, the "shiny things" often bring tangible and less tangible benefits (e.g. technology advances, societal celebration of science & engineering), whereas quite a bit of our social programs seem like money pits with no real outcome other than feeling good about burning all that time and treasure (see above re: SF and the homeless). I'm reminded of people who protested going to the Moon, arguing instead that the funding should be spent on welfare programs. The difference is that going to the Moon is a quantifiable win and also brings interesting benefits to society, and there is an end state where the job is done. Welfare, as it is currently structured, does nothing to actually solve the problem of systemic poverty so its job is never done. It's not even clear if increasing or decreasing funding really does much about the problem.
The anti-moon mission people were right, in the end. The advances solely attributable to it were few (to ask someone to name them is akin to asking a government official what assets and missions, exactly, Edward Snowden's leaks compromised), and NASA and the government abandoned the effort not when the possibility of further advances dried up, but when the prestige of beating the USSR wore off. This, of course, is the fundamental issue: that the shininess blinds and then dulls, leaving the problems that were ignored still unaddressed. The people protesting the moon missions were:
*Black and PoC Civil Rights advocates
Consider then, in good faith, the troubles that continue to rock our society, some 40-50 years hence. Interesting parallels.
On the other hand, welfare works. Full stop.
Like I said, we've been conditioned. And by "we", I mean "you."
Totally agree with your campaign idea too. I think a lot of it is social signaling and if there was enough of a big movement against them, diamonds would be "canceled" pretty quickly. Social pressure is one of the great guiding forces we have (for better and for worse).
In the west, the US or the anglosphere? Because I only know this from Hollywood movies.
The scope of their mass brain washing is indeed staggering. Heck I have a good friend in the jewelry business and we still get into heated discussions about how he feels there is nothing wrong and how he is providing value as an agent of Debears brainwashing. It is pretty disgusting.
Yes they don't because of marketing.
If we want to really change this, the narrative, the media and marketing has to change from: Earth Diamonds = Status of eternity and "foreverness" to Earth Diamonds = Status of child abuse.
With massive campaigns from media and celebrities, people can be shamed into changing their behaviour.
We need to stop treating women as children and objects to be "bought out" with diamonds and gifts. The days of women needing men to "provide" for them are long gone.
But I digress.. more to your point, just because something is a tradition, it doesn't mean we should throw our hands up and accept the status quo.
Change requires bravery.
I'd rather toss 10k into a couple emergency fund then waste it on a ring. Most marriages collapse due to money. I recall in my younger days I was with a girl and she dragged me to Brooks Brothers. As a child of poverty and evictions I couldn't understand why anyone who need to spend this much money on a shirt.
Even making well into the 6 figures I shop at Old Navy. Hell, my favorite partner thus far was making 200k or so, and she still used an IPhone 6.
Maybe whenever I meet someone new I'll ask on the first date, would you rather have 10k saved in an emergency fund or a shinny conflict rock ? Her response will tell me everything I need to know.
I don't know about asking that on the very first date, but it is very reasonable (essential even) to make sure your priorities and your partner's priorities match up.
I don't think it's a radical claim that most want blood diamonds precisely because lot's of people suffered and possibly died for it.
That's the elephant in the room.
The sadistic narcissism of which I speak.
> Maybe whenever I meet someone new I'll ask on the first date, would you rather have 10k saved in an emergency fund or a shinny conflict rock ? Her response will tell me everything I need to know.
Haha. I doubt her answer is going to deter you from the path you intended. You'll probably still be mesmerized so maybe this is 29th date, watching netflix after getting laid type of talk.
Is money the cause or symptom? Unrealistic expectations of overflowing love clouding rational judgement of lifelong partnerships? I feel money is too simple an explaination - as if the foundation of the marriage was money in which case it was dead before it even started.
Some studies on factors leading to divorce do put 'money' (and particularly attitudes regarding money) as the biggest single factor, but I'm not familiar with any study (let alone a consensus) that it's a leading factor in 'most' divorces.
Children also includes weirdly a large subset on how to raise children (when marrying someone of a different faith)
In these days, some of them come from marriage counseling statistics undertaken during divorce (some states require it before disolving a marriage).
There is some specific research from small N groups where N=52 for example (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4012696/)
Thanks for the link as well, I found it interesting. :-)
I don't think you have mentally left that state of mind. Thinking you need $10,000 in cash and telling everyone on the first date tells them this guy will never save more than 10,000 and he is cheap with his money. Might work for some but perhaps you are putting out a negative signal.
Plus I think you're being a bit unfair about his first date comment. It seemed like it was more of a quip to explain his position, than an actual plan
Exactly, anyone I'm with needs to understand the difference between my money and their money. I've had no problem dating plenty of fantastic girls who have their own careers( real life only and I tend to date a few years older ). That's by far my number one priority when meeting someone, have your own life together first.
$10,000 was a random number, maybe the pre-marriage emergency fund needs to be $50,000, 100,000 ? In my mind having that money saved up says when life happens, and life will happen you'll be okay.
All of those people in 2008 who lost their houses in my neighborhood had the left that state of mind.
I remember, a few months in a relationship, lightly making fun of some of her "cheap" behaviours (which I really appreciated) and her getting very offended. At that point I realised I never communicated I was a massive cheapskate and I asked her if she thought she was more frugal than me. It turns out she thought so!
I think I definitely proved I won the frugality contest, but I learnt over time to mask this to appear more interesting and charming.
Money is not the only resource that count and that's worthy of optimising for; time and reputation are important as well.
Fast fashion is literally harming the earth, screw everyone who says that and thinks about that, I absolutely reject it and we SHOULD apply logic to fashion choices that directly harm us and our planet.
My hi-fi system is 30 years old. My Squeezeboxes (audio players) are 15 years old. Laptop (running LXDE) is 13 years old. TV is 10 years old (only 720p but free of “smart” aka tracking features). The mobile phone is about 7 years old; this one is due for replacement and while I usually buy second-hand, I am considering a Fairphone 3. The most recent device I bought (a year ago) was an Apple TV which I’d hope to be using for at least another 5 years.
So the value lies with the fact that it was made by slaves?....
It's mostly artificial scarcity, even sneakers that weren't personally worn by a celebrity sell for thousands when they are of a limited run with particular high demand.
Throw in scamming as a service, the FOMO marketing that has become ever-present, and the result is brands being able to charge absurd prices for mundane items.
Almost everyone buys clothes, electronics made with child labor.
I think you might have clothes made with child labor as well.
Why do you draw the line at diamonds?
The author is outraged at the hypocrisy, without realising the value of diamonds is that they are scarce.
If you can produce them artificially, they are no longer in the same league with the scarce ones.
This is a thing that people do, so it's not fair to assume that the parson you're having the discussion with is a hypocrite.
Reminds me when they closed a china assembly factory because of online activism, and the chinese people there started starving, because they had no other income. They would gladly have their factory back.
Also most of the help for african countries does the following:
1) There are 1 Million people starving
2) a lot of food is sent there
3) There are now 2 million people starving
Does it make sense? No, but humans are emotional animals that seek for differentiation.
Botswana has used the opportunity of being so diamond-rich to require that diamonds be cut/polished in the country, enabling hundreds of their citizens to learn a new high-paying trade. Many countries require the sale of their stones happen inside the country rather than having all the stones immediately shipped off to European trading floors.
The real hypocrisy is people complaining about an industry they really know nothing about.
You sure you want people to really know about "the industry"?!?
I view Debears as industrious as the Casinos. They produce nothing but feelings created by predatory practices at an astonishingly high price.
“Produce nothing but feelings” — that’s called advertising. Same as Coke, BMW and Tumi.
That sounds more stable than many South American countries, even Russia.
"Okay class, a very small percentage of diamonds are made via child labour, a few poor people dead, terrorist groups etc while most are made via modern mining practice. That is where diamonds come from. On the other hand, a successful marketing campaign has occurred declaring that all natural diamonds are made by torturing children. It may well be that your iPhone's supply chain causes more misery. How many would still want a natural diamond because diamonds are forever?"
Does anyone, other than geologists of course, really care about the back-story of the diamond, how it was created and how it was mined? Or are they just hanging on to an idea that some of them are "real" and some "not real" for the purposes of social signalling?
If the latter, I would consider this much more changeable over time.
Yes, very much so, as is the case with all lifestyle products. People want to believe that they’re buying something special.
Then folks would be buying something ethical and more glamorous. Maybe philanthropic donations could be associated to revitalize areas hurt by the diamond industry to further tell a story for the celebrities and consumers.
Something like Naturally Famous Treasure, or NFT for short?
I've never met anyone that talked about it at all. Maybe I don't have conversations about diamonds very often, but people only ever seemed concerned that they were 'real', and latterly that they were conflict-free.
> People want to believe that they’re buying something special.
What if it turns out they're not?
Lab grown diamonds are diamonds. Whether one comes out of the ground or from a lab, maybe they aren’t that special.
A lot of economists have argued that the "value" of something is based on the labor cost of production. So given that viewpoint, mined diamonds would be worth more than lab ones, even if they were identical in every way (yes, I also think this is silly, but that's what the market's indicating even today).
(And yes, those economists would tend to get laughed out of the room these days)
Buyers remorse or post-rationalization.
There are a lot of people who would consider a car, diamond, piece of art, etc that has "a decently long chain of people had to stick their neck out doing criminal things" in its provenance to be a more interesting than an equivalent "produced in a high tech factory".
I think even with synthetic diamonds being 100% on par in every way there will still be a market for ethically and legally gray diamonds because people want to know they're buying something that someone toiled and/or took risks for.
I'd say price will probably be the determining factor but luxury status symbol markets don't work that way.
How it was mined, where it came from, which company sells it and how all of that is marketed to the world (not even really to the owner) is the value of all of this.
It’s like sending a unicef postcard, what matters the most would be the effect on the receiver and how the sender feels about it. The object itself isn’t on the front stage.
I've never met anyone that cares about that at all, beyond 'conflict-free'.
A story about geology and how it was dug up? The same story as literally every other diamond wearer?
I got my wife a custom designed ring with a fairly large moissanite stone for ~$1,200 all in, and we spent about $2,000-$3,000 on the wedding itself. My wife actually would have been upset with me if I had gotten her a real diamond. Not so much because of concerns over conflict (though she did care about that) but because she felt that spending that much on a useless stone was outright stupid.
Might be an American thing? My parents spent about 1 month worth of my dad's salary on two wedding rings a long time ago. My dad actually wanted to buy a far more expensive ring for my mom, but she insisted to keep it simple and "cheap" and "unproblematic" to wear. Same story in the rest of the family.
Friends (usually a lot younger than my parents) spend even less on rings, I'd estimate 400-600 EUR per ring from what I keep hearing.
I've heard about that two months rule before, in American TV shows and movies, never thought about it. Now I wonder if it's really an American thing, or if people around me are just cheapskates :P
>These two achievements - making the diamond ring an essential part of getting married and dictating how much a man should pay - make it one of the most successful bits of marketing ever undertaken, says Dr TC Melewar, professor of marketing and strategy at Middlesex University.
>"They invented a tradition which captured some latent desire to mark this celebration of love," he says. Once the tradition had been created, they could put a price on it - such as a month or two's salary. And men, says Melewar, would pay whatever was expected because it was a "highly emotive" purchase.
Of course, it's all optional, jewelery purchases are not a mandatory part of getting married, I (heterosexual woman) have been married for a decade and neither of us purchased any sort of jewelery.
Here's some ads from the 1980s advocating for two months salary -
Oh, they are being sneaky and getting into news too:
Most people I know don't really care at all (I'm 25 for reference), since they generally don't have the money to waste on such frivolous purchases.
Part of the significance of the gesture is the level of painful expense involved. So making the item much cheaper also cheapens the gesture.
e.g. people will make a judgment on the 'realness' of your ring and it's validity as a status symbol, based if it's inflated value is perceived to be within budget, and if challenged you would have to stand ground by declaring it's cost.
Obviously this suggests that the status symbol hypothesis is kinda weak.
Call it what it is: diamonds are a down payment from a man to a woman for access to sex. The higher the price, the higher the value he assigns to it.
"Don't feed egregious comments by replying; flag them instead."
If people would follow that simple rule, hellfires would die before they spread. Please don't contribute to spreading them by feeding them. The replies do more damage than the originals, because they open the floodgates.
You might need to take a break and take a walk away from media. Do you honestly think this is a thing for all women? Do you honestly believe life is like a television sitcom or romantic comedy?
If people would follow that simple rule, hellfires would die before they spread. Please don't contribute to spreading them by feeding them.
If you think it's so out of line then why engage on that same level by replying with a bunch of "nope"?
I fail to see how his comment is blatantly sexist. If anything it's insulting both sexes equally and craps on the institution of marriage more than anything else.
Yes, his comment was unnecessarily cynical and we all know how well that goes over here when not directed at an approved boogeyman (BigCo, Congress, etc) but you can easily walk that cynicism back by replacing "down payment" with "signalling commitment" and "sex" with one of the other upsides to a stable marriage and the meaning is unchanged.
Buying rings isn't the problem- you stated "the value of a ring is how much a man is willing to pay for access to sex".
Without a further breakdown of why you think that's a reasonable statement to make it just sounds weirdly myopic.
People pay more because of status "I am a good provider and I can prove it", or because the woman wants to feel valued.
It doesn't go back to sex, not for a long time, in fact sex is very far removed from the idea of modern day marriage in the majority of western countries.
Give me one reason why a man would enter a sexless marriage.
So basically... proof of work?
It used to be "sunk cost" for a man, since until recently it was expected that if you break the engagement your ex-fiance would keep the ring (right now in most of the states law require it to be returned). Expensive wedding party is another sunk cost.
Is this true? That would be very surprising, as it is essentially a gift, or at the very least, joint property subject to divorce adjudication like anything else.
So why not buy something practical and expensive? Like a house or a car?
>the high cost and useless-ness of the gift are a feature not a bug
The other thing is the marketing says diamonds are "forever," presumably like your love, but houses and cars require expensive maintenance and are easily damaged. Not good if you're buying something symbolic.
Not that I personally agree, far from it, we didn't make any jewelery purchases when we got married.
Definitely some symbolism there. Relationships (romantic and otherwise) are indeed more like houses and cars - innately valuable, easily damaged, and requiring regular maintenance - than diamonds.
For cars, I suppose my hypothesis would say cars likely to depreciate very quickly (such as high-end SUV) are more suitable as engagement gifts than practical (prius or such), which fits roughly with my observations in real world
Reminds me of these outrageously expensive dishes some places are selling, where they put gold on the food, and other expensive ingredients that don't fit, all for the sake of creating the most expensive burger/steak/pizza whatever.
The fact that the participants publicly shared their opinion, and then they would also publicly had to signal that they were wrong could simply be such a big psychological factor, that the topic at hand did not matter.
It would’ve been better to vote anonymously, or even better ask one class at the beginning and a different class at the end of the lecture, then share the statistics with both classes at the next lecture.
Here's another interesting twist that further shows how powerful branding and marketing really are: Spence Diamonds is a diamond retailer in Canada that advertises extremely aggressively via radio ads. A few years ago, it started a huge campaign for lab grown diamonds, portraying them with adjectives such as "artisan-made" (going as far as comparing them to Michelangelo art). And what do you know:
> While still offering mined diamonds, Spence has found that when its customers are given a choice, 80% of them choose lab-growns over mined diamonds
I wonder if synthetic diamonds that were organized into specifically limited editions would hold more value...
Diamond marketing exploits that to good effect -- most diamonds are marked and registered in a database that traces its unique history. Doing so makes it possible to value the history as unique, and also leads by example in investing in the value of that history (they make a big deal out of the tech used to confirm authenticity). Since the final purpose of the diamond is to demonstrate stored value rather than produce it, the target buyer is focused on whether others recognize the value, not whether it is justified.
On a personal level, I think the history of "real" diamonds is almost always horrific and a negative asset! I hope companies like Pandora can put marketing power into creating scarcity stories for synthetic diamonds.
It may make it possible, but I would dispute that many people really care all that much about the story. Sure, they care about 'real', but what that means is up for debate.
> the target buyer is focused on whether others recognize the value
Pretty solidly they don't, hence the abysmal second hand values! But you're not wrong - to split hairs I think it's whether others recognise how much was spent, which lots of people confuse with value :)
Most engineering projects around cultural products change (not necessarily improve) the "registered in a database" process. Whereas most value comes from creating / enriching a "unique history."
I think it takes a lot more than logic to convince most people to change opinions - especially on matters of preference or taste.
That might also be the reason. If something is cheaper, it feels inferior.
Also with diamonds it's probably a factor that the fiancé is expected to present serious intents with a deeper monetary investment. "Look honey, it's an ethical, clean diamond and only cost 1/20th of a dirty one" sad, but feels wrong.
Edit: I also remember a guy at dinner party bragging about buying a 5000EUR ring, it goes both ways.
Then he can spend the same money for a bigger diamond ? That would give also more bragging rights to the future wife (nobody will come and ask if it is a natural or artificial one).
Try doing that with a diamond. You walk out of the diamond showroom with it, and its resale value plummets to the value of the base metals, the work of the setting, plus a small fraction for what you had just paid for the diamond.
So the diamond is worth whatever it can be bought / sold for online. If walking out of the store drops it’s value, you’re donating to the store.
Buy an exactly equivalent stone elsewhere if the price drops too much after you buy it.
I wish there was a trustworthy clearinghouse/reseller for used jewelry and gemstones. That would be fantastic.
I was trying to explain to him that diamonds are worthless, they have little resale value because they're not fungible, the rarity is being manipulated, and man made diamonds are indistinguishable without a special tool.
His position was that he can't get his fiance a "fake diamond" and I said just because it's man made doesn't mean that it isn't real. We went back and forth a bit, and started to get heated, and eventually I said "If I make a sandwich it doesn't mean it's not a real sandwich!" which made our other co-workers laugh hysterically and repeat for years. Ice would have made the point much better than a sandwich, but I suspect I wouldn't remember the story.
The ice analogy is a bit faulty because no one is eating their diamonds and the impurities are technically advantageous (though most people want the shiny "perfect" diamond which are much easier to come about artificially).
It's not surprising that the 30 minute lecture didn't sway too many minds -- I think the professor didn't 'get it' in his/her own way. People aren't just buying collections of atoms (though they actually are).
People don't often change their minds right away. Specifically, there is a huge amount of neural reconfiguration which happens when we sleep, which is why we "sleep on it".
The interesting question, which is impossible to answer, is how those women felt about lab-grown diamonds by the time it was important. I'd guess that nearly all of them became more open to the idea, and that more changed their minds later than had revised their opinion immediately after the lecture.
Go to gem and mineral shows for jewelry.
They are very close to wholesale prices and as such can be up to 10x less expensive than a store, and cash purchases typically even less.
Jewelry diamonds at such event aren't the main item that people are there for though. It's the truly rare items that you find. Things like non-standard colored sapphires, gargantuan amethysts, gem rhodochrosite, fossils of dubious pedigree, meteorites, fordite, etc. Working diamonds, ones that are perfectly made and the size of your palm, can be bought and then cut down for relatively cheap. Many research labs and universities get samples at these events in 'legal' deals.
Especially near the end of the shows when vendors need to make a sale, things get pretty wild as the liquor comes out as well as the cash.
Check your local listings, ads, and billboards. It's a great Saturday activity even for the nephews and nieces.
Be it diamonds, sports cars, etc doesnt matter.
Forced child labour used to extract natural diamonds in some parts of the world is also real.
Getting a lab grown diamond or an alternative stone for your girlfriend can feel like you chose saving money or your personal views on diamond ethics over getting her something that meets those table stakes. It doesn't matter if it's technically superior (I rarely hear people discuss the quality of their diamonds anyway, beyond weight occasionally). What does matter is that you chose to give her something different than the standard, and the ring will always feel like it has a little asterisk on it marking this.
You heard "Do you want this man-made item that is functionally identical to a naturally occurring item".
The women heard "Do you want the jewelry that symbolises your love to be real or fake?"
Functionally, there is almost no difference in an item containing a diamond and an identical one containing worthless rock.
But, you know, jewelry derives almost all of its value from being expensive and rare. Jewelry that is neither expensive nor rare stops being jewelry.
Costume jewelry is usually neither expensive nor rare, and yet it remains popular with certain demographics.
An engagement ring is emphatically not costume jewelry, and if you don't understand that "real jewelry" is an important sense the antonym of "costume jewelry", well, now you do.
Okay, let me clarify: Jewelry that is neither expensive nor rare stops being jewelry, it becomes costume jewelry.
Even if the person displaying a luxury artifact agrees that some other artifact is equivalent, if the people they're displaying it to don't also agree, then there is a difference that's relevant to the purpose of the artifact, which is to advertise your wealth.
Though the topic at hand is diamonds, which are strongly associated with wedding proposals, this principle applies equally to sports cars, guitars, etc.
What some intrepid manufacturer should do is create custom diamonds that are actually more expensive than natural diamonds, with some subtle structure that cannot be found in nature. That solves the problem of immoral sourcing, and better suits the purpose of displaying wealth.
The correct answer is: no.
traditionally it was an important gesture that the man was investing a large sum of money into his soon to be wife
Of course, people often sell their rings if they get divorced... but wouldn't that make actually an expensive ring an incentive to separate? The whole gesture makes very little sense.
Of course, times are very different now, and it is quite an antiquated idea.
Rings I get. They are a symbol of commitment, a sentimental memento, and just a nice accessory. But the idea that the cost to purchase the ring is somehow a reflection of that is still silly to me.
Sounds like it wasn't because it didn't convince many people!
No, that's not it.
Diamonds are conspicuous status signaling. It's a very human, even animal drive. DeBeers gets a lot of hate, and much of it deservedly so, but they tapped into and exploited our nature - they didn't create it.
Why? Because natural ones are more expensive. It's literally like asking someone whether they prefer to have $20 or $40.
Obviously I would want a more expensive thing than a less expensive thing from a partner. If we split up, I could sell the more expensive thing for... more.
In fact, Diamonds are some of the most common gems in nature!
Sentiments can change. Diamonds will not become unemotional, but the emotional reaction will likely go into reverse soon.
Sounds like a pretty sexist thing to do. The same question can be asked without putting women on the spot. "If you were to buy a diamond, what would you rather choose?"
In western culture, still today I think,majority of men would be buying and majority of women would be receiving diamonds. It would be interesting if this affects answers. Would a buyer go for more practical cheaper option while receiver goes for more expensive traditional options? Or a different split completely , or none? I think it'd be a fascinating exercise.
I found majority of my men friends argued it's the same diamond without the ethical concerns if you go man-made, while majority of my women friends chose natural (reasons included social pressure, the story, and so on).
Anecdotes aren't proof. But perhaps there is something to looking at this from a gendered (proxy for giving vs. receiving?) lens.
If the professor is making an argument that one choice is clearly the rational choice, and then highlights differences in how different groups make that choice, then they are directly implying that some groups are more irrational than others.
This phenomenon has to be more localized than Western culture (the worldwide diamond consumption hints at it being US-specific?) - I for example don't know anyone who even contemplated buying one for proposing. Granted, this is purely anectotal, but over extended family and workplace colleagues this includes a bunch of milieus.
My family in Europe doesn't have the whole engagement ring concept.
That being said, what I actually took away from that comment... was that the teacher in geology class was presenting effectively political argument as opposed to teaching. Explaining the process of fine, but given what you described — I bet no one changed their mind about synthetic vs real. Most knew what the “correct” answer was. I think everyone kinda knows about synthetic diamonds, they just don’t care. Same way plastic bottles are better for the environment, yet are still used widely.
I 100% disagree. The stigma around cubic zirconia and 'fake' jewelry is real and alive, and absolutely carries over to any kind of man-made gems. I also don't think most people have any idea at all about the issues in the gem trade. Source: My highly educated co-workers who were astounded to read about conditions in emerald mines after Elon Musk got popular.
CZ also has a lower refractive index and less dispersion than either diamonds or Moissanite.