The Woman Shaking up the Diamond Industry, a recent article in the New Yorker, reminds me of how terribly broken our society is due to corporate greed.
Talking about N. W. Ayer & Son, the company that De Beers hired to make diamonds more alluring to the market in the United States:
One Ayer copywriter, Frances Gerety, recalled that women formerly wanted their future husbands to spend money on “a washing machine, or a new car, anything but an engagement ring,” which was considered “money down the drain.” Gerety changed this perception by creating the slogan “A Diamond Is Forever” for De Beers. Ayer loaned extravagant diamond jewelry to celebrities; as one of the company’s publicists put it, “The big ones sell the little ones.” Demand grew, and so did supply. In the nineteen-twenties, about three million carats of rough diamonds were produced worldwide every year; by the end of the seventies, the number had climbed to some fifty million carats.
At one point, people wanted functional items which helped their lives. A company’s sales targets warped the entire narrative around love and marriage into something that sells shiny rocks.
It really makes you wonder how long we’re going to last…