Clarity, Cut, and Culture: The Many Meanings of Diamonds
New York University Press
If you took all the diamonds ever mined in human history and poured them onto a tennis court, the players would be wading in bling so deep it would cover the net. Susan Falls spent a year in the diamond industry to find out why these stones—which, let’s face it, look so much like glass that you need special training to tell the two apart—matter. She interviews experts and ordinary people about their relationships to diamonds, and finds a perfect case of the contradictory and random nature of our preferences. Women who consider expensive rings signs of being “owned” nevertheless covet them. Men who think mining diamonds in Africa causes unconscionable misery nevertheless want to give them to women. Pretty much everyone seems to understand that the industry is corrupt and that diamonds’ prices are unrelated to their supposed scarcity, yet they still cherish the stones as heirlooms and tokens of love. —Graeme Wood
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