The diamond cartel is, all by itself, one of the reasons I thank all powers daily that I’m gay. (Of course, I should also say I’m thankful that I wasn’t born Liberace…or Elton John… or…)
Anyway, my favorite Engagement Ring from Hell story concerns a couple of acquaintances from law school. We’ll call them Cinderella and Cruella. Cruella was a nasty, prissy young woman from an old Southern family that had little money, but a good name and the accompanying pretentions. She met her future husband, an investment banker, before she started law school. They were engaged during her third year, and he gave her a nice sized ring.
Cinderalla, one of Cruella’s classmates, was a very nice, modest young woman from Nebraska who met her future husband in law school. He was a year ahead. During her third year they got engaged; although not particularly wealthy himself, he decided to devote a handsome portion of his first-year salary (after living expenses and loans) to a large, high-quality rock. Cinderalla was thrilled, but also a bit uncomfortable - it was a little ostentatious, and might make her a target for crime.
Cruella became terribly jealous of Cinderella’s ring. After all, her fiance was a senior vice president at Morgan Stanley, not some nobody first-year law associate! So Cruella made the fiance go out and buy a bigger ring, and kept the smaller ring, too.
An aside: Cruella’s family was, I believe, protestant (very WASP-y name, anyway). Her fiance was Jewish. She was overheard one day talking about her wedding plans, complaining that her husband was objecting to her site choice - a prominent Manhattan club known for forbidding Jewish members. “But the food is so much better!” she whined, “and the head of catering is black!”
I never was sure what the second point was supposed to mean.