Why Do We Propose With Diamond Rings?
By Heath Shive
Pirates, princesses, pawnbrokers, and people all around the world know that jewels mean money.
And the most common jewel in the U.S. – perhaps the only “mandatory” gem in the country – is a diamond.
Set in a ring.
Accompanied by “I do.”
But it should also be accompanied by “Why?”
Why Desire a Diamond?
Aja Raden is an experienced jeweler and trained scientist. Raden is also the author of a highly readable book entitled “Stoned: Jewelry, Obsession, and How Desire Shapes the World.” Not only does she explore the world of gems – but she tells you “why” you desire them so badly.
And she explains why Americans insist on a diamond ring.
The diamond ring is not an ancient tradition. It is about as old as the microwave oven. So how did this tradition happen?
Diamonds by the Ton!
Once upon a time, diamonds were rare. The best diamonds came from India. Their famous Golconda diamonds were so exquisitely beautiful that they set the diamond standard to this day.
But that changed in 1870, when a small boy named Erasmus Jacobs found a pretty rock in the Orange River. Suddenly, South Africa became the world’s greatest diamond mine. By 1872, a million carats were mined every year. This was 5 times as many as the rest of the world…combined!
By 1882, the diamond market collapsed. Out of this market crash, a company named De Beers Consolidated Mines gained control of South African production – production which they promptly slashed to create an artificial dearth in supply.
Diamonds Are For…gotten?
Because of the economics of Depression and World War II, people were selling their diamonds. Demand dropped.
What is a poor global cartel to do in such dire straits?
De Beers controlled supply.
De Beers now wanted to control demand.
Diamonds Are Forever!
De Beers hired the famous advertising firm N. W. Ayer to begin a campaign to make people feel the desire – no, the necessity – to buy diamonds. The advertising team was led by two advertising legends, Dorothy Dignam and Frances Gerety. These two women changed how Americans have proposed marriage for the past 70 years!
First, Dignam and Gerety created a false expectation by advertising that “a proposal is not a real proposal without a diamond.” Then they created a false standard by advertising with a slogan like “What’s two months’ salary for something that’ll last forever?”
In 1947, Gerety came up with “A diamond is forever.” Gerety’s slogan was named the slogan of the century by Advertising Age magazine!
Meanwhile, Dorothy Dignam lent out diamonds to celebrities to wear to film premieres, the Academy Awards, and the Kentucky Derby. Diamonds gained glamour in the American eye.
Americans could have that glamour too…if they just bought a diamond.
Since then, Americans have bought diamond engagement rings.
Now, De Beers controlled both supply and demand.
Diamonds Are Ridiculous?
Diamonds are not a great investment. Like all retails products, they lose a lot of their value the moment you walk out of the store. And their value is determined by artificially inflated supply and demand, so they are not stable investments either.
According to The Knot, the average engagement ring’s price in 2017 is $6,351!
Is it worth that much to you to buy into this game?
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Raden, Aja. Stoned: Jewelry, Obsession, and How Desire Shapes the World. HarperCollins, 2015.
Seduction Victims: The 18 Types from Robert Greene’s “The Art of Seduction”
By Heath Shive
As the saying goes, it takes two to tango. There cannot be seducers without the seduced.
The same author who gave us the 9 Types of Seducers wrote another list of the 18 Types of Seduction Victims.
Do you see yourself somewhere on the list? Be careful!
The 18 Types of Seduction Victims
Robert Greene wrote of what he called the “Victim Theory” of seduction: “Nobody in this world feels whole and complete. We all sense some gap…When we fall in love, it is often with someone who seems to fill that gap. The process is usually unconscious and depends on luck…But the seducer does not leave such things to chance.”
Seducers will not wait for luck. They will make their own luck. They will chase you, hunt you, and ravish you.
That’s exactly what some people want! Even if you are a victim, can you honestly say that you went unwillingly into their arms?
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Greene, Robert. The Art of Seduction. Penguin Books, 2003.
Your Cheating Heart: The Science of Adultery
By Heath Shive
It is hard to get a lock on adultery statistics. For accuracy, everybody would have to tell the truth, right? Good luck with that.
The anthropologist Helen Fisher – one of the nation’s leading experts on adultery – reports some adultery statistics from her book, “The Anatomy of Love.”
During an interview with journalist Neil Strauss – part of his book “The Truth” – Helen Fisher personally gauged the odds of a man or woman (under the age of 40) cheating…to be about equal!
But why cheat?
A behavioral psychologist might point to boredom, mistrust, revenge, or need for validation.
But evolutionary psychologists think adultery is written on your DNA, and there’s (some) science to back this up.
To the science!
The Pair-bond of Prairie Voles
Prairie voles are famous for mating for life.
When two prairie voles first mate, the sex triggers oxytocin receptors in females and vasopressin receptors in males. Dopamine is released into the brain in such a way to create a pair-bond, which lasts most voles for life!
But in some voles, the genes governing the vasopressin system are variable, which also varies the strength of fidelity.
Humans have similar genes in the vasopressin system. In 2008, researchers studied the effects of these genes in a group of 552 “twin pairs and their spouses.” All of these participants had been in a relationship for at least 5 years; 82% were married and 18% were cohabitating.
Men who inherited this gene variation (the 334 allele) scored significantly lower on the Partner Bonding Scale – a questionnaire that measured one’s degree of mate attachment. Men carrying two copies of this gene showed the lowest scores on the Partner Bonding Scale. Men who had no copies of this gene were the most attached to their partner.
Men carrying this vasopressin gene variation had also experienced more marital crises during the previous year – twice as frequently as men without the variation.
Far from exhaustive, this study only included about 1,889 DNA samples, all from only one country (Sweden). And the study didn’t measure infidelity directly.
But the study did suggest a biological connection that could contribute to cheating.
Other Studies Too
In a recent study of 181 young men and women, biologist Justin Garcia and his colleagues found a direct link between specific genes in the dopamine system and a greater frequency of uncommitted sexual intercourse, largely one-night stands, as well as a higher frequency of sexual infidelity.
The Sins of the Parents
If there is a genetic contributor to adultery, it might be inherited. And adulterous – or polygamous – people are successful from a Darwinian standpoint.
In other words, they have more children.
For example, the legendary Moroccan sultan Ismail Ibn Sharif is alleged to have had 867 children, the result of having a harem of 2,000 concubines! Furthermore, 84% of all human traditional societies permit a man to take more than one wife at once – polygyny.
Romance gave us star-crossed lovers. Is science suggesting gene-crossed cheaters?
According to my genes, my eyes aren’t that strong and I started to get gray hairs this year. But I wear glasses and I can dye my hair.
Your genes are not in control. You’re the pilot; the genes are just along for the ride. And one thing’s for sure. If you cheat, you’re going to have a bumpy ride.
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Fisher, Helen. Anatomy of Love: A Natural History of Mating, Marriage, and Why We Stray. Rev. Ed. W.W. Norton & Company, 2016.
Garcia, J.R., J. MacKillop, E.L. Aller, et al. 2010. Associations between the dopamine D4 receptor gene variation with both infidelity and sexual promiscuity. PLoS ONE 5: e14162
Strauss, Neil. The Truth: An Uncomfortable Book about Relationships. Dey St, 2015
Walum, H., L. Westberg, S. Henningsson, et al. 2008. Genetic variation in the vasopressin receptor 1a gene (AVPR1A) associates with pair-bonding behavior in humans. Proceedings of the National academy of Sciences 105 937): 14153-56.
Hello! My name is Heath Shive, content manager at ScholarFox. I'll be the author of most of the blog posts. I'm a former geologist and currently a freelance writer. The world is complex and seemingly crazy. Good! Because when you love to learn, you'll never be bored.