Mark Zuckerberg has certainly been no stranger to the news cycle this past week. With the now infamous IPO on Friday quickly becoming the story of the year, and the surprise wedding on Saturday, it was easy to overlook a small report from TMZ.com about Priscilla Chan's engagement ring.
Zuckerberg is not exactly known for his expensive tastes. This is a guy who wore a hoodie when he rang the NASDAQ opening bell on IPO-day last week. So for many, it came as no surprise that the ring he gave his girlfriend of nine years (they met while undergrads at Harvard) was a simple solitaire ring with what looks to be an approximately 1-carat round red ruby. To others this was a terrible break from tradition. "What's his excuse?" they say, wondering why a multi-billionaire only spent a thousand or two on his new wife.
As someone who has travelled the world buying and selling diamonds on the open market for one of the world's largest diamond polishing and trading companies (and who spends every day nowadays advising regular guys on how to best buy an engagement ring), you might be surprised to learn that I think that what Mark Zuckerberg did was fantastic.
The first lesson I try to instill in readers who visit my website is that the entire tradition of the diamond as a gift given during a marriage proposal is a modern-day invention of Fifth Avenue real-life Mad Men. In the late 1930s, the advertising agency NW Ayer created the now ubiquitous "A Diamond is Forever" campaign. This simple yet brilliant sentence would teach men that a diamond's value would last forever and was therefore a sensible purchase. Simultaneously, it would teach women that this little rock was the perfect way to (quite literally) crystalize their eternal bond to their men.
To go out and spend two or three (the new recommendation) months worth of salary on a diamond at the very time in your life when you need to desperately save money as you begin a new life, family, and home is completely illogical. To think that we're only doing it because the very people who mine and sell the diamonds have convinced us to do so is downright infuriating.
Unfortunately, though, it would seem that for most of us guys out there, it's simply too late in the game. DeBeers has won. The only thing conceivably worse than paying tons of money for a diamond because the diamond people say we should is starting off your life with your wife-to-be by disappointing her and making her feel that she's not worthy of the gift every other bride receives.
If you can safely get away with buying your soon-to-be fiance a gemstone ring à la Zuck, then I salute you. Consider yourself lucky. You've stuck it to "the man," and you've kept much needed funds in your pocket.
At Truth About Diamonds, we try to help the rest of you at the very least minimize the damage. If the diamond promoters want you to believe that your diamond needs to have no flaws just like your love, I tell my readers this is nonsense. A carefully chosen eye-clean lower clarity diamond will look identical to a flawless diamond, assuming all else is equal; yet the difference in price will be drastic. I teach my readers how to buy a diamond that does the least damage to their wallet while having the greatest possible impact.
Mark Zuckerberg needn't worry about saving up for his first house, but the rest of us certainly do.
Follow Ira Weissman on Twitter: www.twitter.com/diamond_truths