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Probably the most sucessful marketing scam ever perpetrated. While diamonds were once truly rare, they are now among the world's most common gemstones. Yet somehow their price continues to spiral steadily upwards, even as small gemstones are commercially manufactured.

A hundred years ago, only a very wealthy western bride might receive a diamond ring as an engagement token. Today they are almost mandatory, even in places such as Japan that have no indigenous diamond tradition whatsoever.

The De Beers monopoly controls world supply and demand with an iron fist, constantly buying out new producers (the Canadian mine in the Northwest Territiories being the most recent example). By controlling 90% of the world supply, any serious manufacturer must deal with them. All advertisments to the contrary, they also regularly buy 'conflict diamonds' that are symbolicly drenched in the blood of thousands of Africans in order to control the world supply of quality gems. Diamonds are the main means of financing for rebels and governments alike in war-torn countries like Angola and Sierra Leone.

They also advertise relentlessly, spreading first the very idea of the diamond engagement ring, then the 'two months salary' rule of thumb (thus ensuring they remain expensive but within reach for everybody), and now, the '10 year anniversary band'. Few advertisers can dream of being so sucessful - their taglines so ingrained in our psyche that they have become part of regular speech, such as the classic 'A Diamond is Forever' and 'Show Her You'd Marry Her All Over Again'.

Anyone who questions the power of advertising in society should first ask themself if a diamond engagement ring would play any part in their engagement plans.

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