Diamonds Are Not Forever

In addition to being stunningly beautiful tokens of love, diamonds have enjoyed an enduring reputation as being a highly portable, highly liquid, and highly desirable asset. While not as predictable as gold or real estate as a hedge against inflation or as a safe haven for wealth, they nevertheless gave a sense of security to the owner. If personal or political fortunes took a turn for the worse, one could always flee the country and locate a discreet broker to handle a transaction that could transform the family jewels into a respectable nest egg.

This reliability was due to the rarity of diamonds, the supply of which is tightly regulated by the DeBeers cartel, and the fact that only nature could make a diamond, and that took a long, long time.

Now, not so much.

The diamond cartel may still control the supply of natural diamonds around the globe, but technology has once again ambushed another seemingly invincible market. ‘Lab grown diamonds’ now marketed to the masses by Pandora, among other vendors, portend a storm on the horizon: manufactured diamonds, just as ‘real’ as natural diamonds and offered at a fraction of the cost, are now a reality. And when you go into a jewelry store to look at diamond jewelry, there’s no way for you to know which one you’re buying, regardless of what the salesperson tells you. (They may not even know.) This does not bode well for the future price of diamonds, or any precious stone for that matter.

I encourage everyone to watch the Netflix/Showtime documentary ‘Nothing Lasts Forever‘ to discover the reality behind the marketing. Why? Because the chickens are finally coming home to roost.

In ‘The Old Money Book’ and ‘The Old Money Guide To Marriage’ I strongly suggested that young couples in love eschew the big diamond engagement ring and the big diamond wedding ring. I promoted simplicity, economy, and logic, and I expressed a preference for a simple gold or platinum band. The future of diamonds’ value, I believe, will confirm my wisdom.

If you want a similar example, read up on the history of pearls, and how ‘cultured’ pearls impacted the value of ‘natural’ pearls. Do you even know the difference today?

If not, that should tell you something, not just about the present state of pearls but about the future of diamonds.

They are not a girl’s best friend. They are not anyone’s best investment, and in fact are probably a horrible expenditure, especially for those young people just starting out in life.

Remember: nothing says ‘I love you’ like being smart with your money. Because one day, in the not too distant future, it may all be referred to as ‘costume jewelry.’

Enjoy the documentary.

  • BGT

15 thoughts on “Diamonds Are Not Forever

  1. Interesting, and likely correct. But don’t forget that many old-money families have a stash of heirloom diamonds to be used for future generations’ wedding or engagement rings.

  2. Good point Hudson. There’s a guideline established by De Beers that one should commit two months salary to the diamond engagement ring. I suspect if couples committed this amount instead to a stock market investment, they could put a child through college 18 years later.

  3. When my now-husband and I first started talking about marriage, I was clear on two things:

    1) I didn’t want a diamond engagement ring, both for the “that’s a waste of money” reasons and for the ethical reasons.

    2) After a past broken “engagement” where the person I was dating wanted to call himself my fiancé but didn’t want to bother with any of the formalities whatsoever, I was quite insistent that there be a ring and a set wedding date for me to consider us engaged.

    We went to a craft fair and bought a pair of silver rings with three amber stones, each a different shade, and both wore them as our engagement rings. Not the most durable choice, unfortunately, but served their purpose until we got our wedding rings (two-tone gold braided design, made from the same braid and then cut to the correct size).

    We also had a comparatively inexpensive wedding in a state park, and prepared all food and drink except the wedding cake ourselves – the cake was a gift from a guest who had a family member who specialized in fancy cakes. 19 years later, we are still married and many of the people we knew who had fancy expensive weddings are not. Our philosophy was “invest in the marriage, not in the wedding” and I think it has paid off.

    1. I hear and understand, Anneke.

      My husband of over 34 years purchased my ring with cash and we both put money aside for our honey moon trip. My bride maids wore dresses on sale from JC Penny (store in the states) The girls like them and could wear them more than once and I know some could not afford the $100.00 gowns which I thought silly which was very expensive back in the 80’s. One lady made my travel dress at a discount (she was so sweet!), told the organ player to play her favorite music before and after the wedding march. (she did not like this). It was only years later I purchased a nicer ring for my husband. He did not ask for it, I wanted to do it. I still have my original ring.

      You are correct about big weddings as most couples regret spending all that money when we speak sweetly of our small non fuss wedding with great affection. We even figured out what was expected from each of us (he does laundry, I fold and iron) before the wedding. You are also correct about investing in the marriage, not the wedding.

      Our oldest girl wants her wedding at home… with BBQ, banana pudding, fall decorations, have guests wear “It’s fall ya’ll” themed colors, a dress she will make herself (not white, but Autumn inspired colors) along with her bouquet (she is artist and has refined tastes), a chocolate cake and frosting from scratch (I make), along with a bounce house for any kids. She wants a theme and for everyone to have a good time which will be remembered. Oh, she and I figured out if anything needs to be rented, it is for a family get together, we don’t dare say wedding as the prices rises by 150%.

      I think she is off to a good start.

  4. When I read about the current state of diamonds, I am reminded of Emperor Napoleon III reserving his aluminum cutlery for his most prized dinner guests, while those less favored had to make do with using gold utensils.

    When technology gets a vote, as it often does, it’s amazing how disruptive to the existing order it can be. Nobody would be impressed these days if you offered them aluminum cutlery instead of gold. I’m sure that pretty shortly, nobody is going to be impressed with flawed diamonds pried out of the ground at enormous environmental and human cost, when you can obtain flawless and genuine diamonds grown to your precise preferences and specifications, or, as you suggest use simple wedding bands and invest the funds for future endeavors.

  5. Sound advice (as usual). Admittedly, there have been times where it has crossed my mind (more than once) to purchase a diamond ring for my wife. However, there are more sensible things to plan for in mid-life. For instance, the Young Master’s college in just another four years. My wife’s understated engagement ring is slender gold with an aqua marine stone and two diamond chips. She wears and enjoys it daily. For wedding bands, we both wear very plain, thin gold rings. The arrangement seems to suit us tolerably well. We’ve been together almost 23 years and married for 17 by the way, and I would have married the Grand Duchess much sooner if she had consented. I was, as the late Peter Sellers put it in What’s New Pussycat? (1965), “Schmitten!”

    Kind Regards,


  6. Thank you for sharing your thoughts as well as the documentary, Byron. My husband and I just celebrated our 22nd anniversary. We just have plain white gold wedding bands, and I wear a pair of cultured pearl studs. Funny, I was recently thinking about getting a pair of small moissanite earrings for the reasons you’ve mentioned above (cost, value, ethics) since I don’t have access to a stash of heirloom diamonds.

  7. Hello Byron, much respect to you and I hope you are well. I wonder if you have seen Nicole Davies “Old Money” youtube series of 46 monetized videos? She briefly waves your book around in the first video and says she has read it, and then proceeds to verbatim quote most of your writing throughout her videos, failing to mention to the viewers that they are quotes from your book and not her own words. In fact, she refers to the author simply as “they” for most of the series.
    I wonder if you would have any copyright violations going on there?

    1. Hi Jessica, thank you for the note. I’m familiar with the videos. My hope is that they prompt people to buy the book. I try to wish everyone the best. Litigation is not a road anyone wants to go down. – BGT

  8. Jewelry is not a great investment. If someone is going to buy something, they should buy it because it’s a beautiful piece and they’ll enjoy wearing it, not because they think they’ll make money reselling it.

    In the interest of full disclosure, I bought my momma a garnet ring. She always wanted one when I was a child. I bought it second hand for $75 one Christmas and she loves wearing it. There is plenty of good second hand jewelry out there.

  9. Buying only antique jewellery from my very good friend which is specialising in antique jewellery. Breathtaking, unique pieces with much better quality stones (not only diamonds) than these in today’s jewellery, gaining on value with the time. Nobody would convince me to buy diamond jewellery from any of the big houses nowadays, unless it’s haute joaillerie but this is far too expensive. My engagement ring is mostly resting in the safe, every day wear is a white gold wedding band with diamonds and a 47 years old golden Tank Cartier with diamonds, looking better than the new ones…

  10. Agreed; Sadly the youth of today will eschew a family piece for something they’ve seen on instagram on the finger of some ghastly insta- famous vulgar orange gold digger 🙁

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