Back in the day — by which I mean a period beginning shortly after WWII and ending sometime around the year 2000 when the United Nations General Assembly finally recognized the whole “blood diamond” thing — the recipe for getting engaged read, “Take one diamond valued at roughly two month’s salary plus one knee, and combine. Issue proposal thusly for maximum effect.” Screw you very much, De Beers.
I tend to forget about the whole business of diamonds for a couple of reasons. One, I don’t subscribe to cable or have an antenna, so my exposure to those nerve-gratingly annoying De Beers commercials is kept at a bare minimum. Two, most of my engaged and married peeps received something other than diamonds from their sweeties. And three, as much as I adore all that sparkles, I subscribe to the rather old fashioned notion that big bling looks best on ladies over the age of 50. Perhaps that should even be 60 or 70, considering that 40 is apparently the new 20, which would naturally make 50 the new 30 and so on.
So why am I suddenly concerned with mineralogical numerology? I read something yesterday in the online journal of a friend of a friend.
What is a diamond? It’s a pretty stone, but a really expensive one, and one that only means “I love you” because people think its absence means “I don’t”. With diamonds as the social norm in many countries, marriage is like a game of chicken – neither partner can broach the subject of not getting a diamond ring, because to do so would sound like less than total commitment.
So what do I propose? Giving couples a moment of clarity. Get both of them at once, and show them just why a diamond ring is a ball and chain, a vote for evil, a defeat of individuality in the face of advertising. Give them a chain of reasoning at the end of which is a different ring. And hopefully, before they quite know what they’ve done, they’ve told each other that they’re at least considering having a different ring. Point out to them that a diamond does not mean love, but defeat in the face of the everyday horror of the world. Show them that that accursed stone has no place at a wedding.
Strong words, eh? Human rights concerns aside, I’m neither pro-diamond nor anti-diamond. Please don’t gift me with a diamond with suspect origins — I say this because I know that about half of you were probably just about to pop some bling in the mail for me. In fact, I’d rather have a bit of moissanite, considering its laboratory origins and its superior sparkle.
What really struck me about the whole anti-diamond entry was this one line: “[a diamond] only means ‘I love you’ because people think its absence means ‘I don’t.’” While I’m not suggesting that we wedding enthusiasts take to the streets en masse to protest diamonds in general, I definitely think there is truth to be found in this sentiment. How many women grow up believing that a proposal must be accompanied by a diamond swathed in gold? How many are then disappointed to receive a sapphire set in silver, the pop top from a Coke, an onion ring, or nothing at all? How many others receive a diamond when they might have actually preferred emerald earrings or a nice watch or perhaps even a new washing machine to replace the old clunker in the basement?
In my always humble opinion the proposal’s the thing, whether it is accompanied by knee trauma, a huge rock, a six pack of Miller High Life, two tickets for a balloon ride, a brand new shiny pony, or the aforementioned nothing at all. As long as someone loves you enough to propose, the absence of any of the other common “ingredients” shouldn’t matter much.