Jewelry. WTF?

I have no fundamental objection to this idea, but the number of people who collect any specific thing in that manner is less than 1% of the population, whereas jewelry worship seems to be the vast, vast majority, so I don’t think the motivation is the same.

Anyway - no one on the thread has touched on the idea that real/expensive jewelry is needed over inexpensive fake jewelry. Something that looks like a diamond ring should be just as much a symbol of love as an actual diamond ring, right? Or does someone have to throw a ton of money away in order for something to have an emotional attachment like that?
Most of us have seen either in our lives or some culture reference where a woman treasures her diamond engagement ring, and someone else says “oh, that’s not a real diamond” - they test it by trying to cut glass, find out that it indeed is not a real diamond, and suddenly she’s upset/dissapointed. Why? If Jewelry were simply meant to look nice (as was the case when she had no idea it was a fake), or if it were to serve a symbolic purpose, why would the more expensive, genuine jewelry have to be used? It seems that the act of throwing away a ton of money is important to this.

I’m a woman and I don’t wear jewelry. But I don’t begrudge those who do. I have “man hands” and surely any sort of ring with pointy things sticking out of it would make my life more cumbersome than it already is - and not to mention draw attention to my manly, many hands :slight_smile: I can barely stand to have my nails painted - for fear that I will chip the paint (which I always do). I can’t imagine the stress of having to look after a $3000 rock!

As for “freaking” when jewelry isn’t “real”…well you know, there’s certain situations where that could be called for. One would be “i spent my life savings on this” and that’s a lie. Lying is no good.

One time my boyfriend (at the time) bought me a gold necklace. It was nice. I wore it every day … until my neck started turning green and the “gold” started flaking off. I wasn’t so pissed at the lack of money spent, but more like the lack of thought that went into it. But when I explained to him that I wanted to wear his necklace every day and it just doesn’t work out well if it’s not real gold, he replaced it with a nice real gold chain and I was happy. So in some instances you really do have to go with the “good stuff” - usually when you want it to be a piece of your daily attire.

I was actually pondering jewelry the other day, and how I really don’t ever want a fancy ring. Perhaps a nice gold or platinum band. Then I wondered what boys may think of me if I don’t WANT jewelry. Sure, some guys may say “sweet!” off the get-go but I dunno, I think guys LIKE buying jewelry and it might end up being a turn off. So far being the “non-jewelry girl” hasn’t won me any men…

I addressed it. I wouldn’t want fake jewels because they’re fake. We don’t want imitation diamonds to be our symbol, we want quality, well-cut beautiful real diamonds. Our love is real, so are the gems. The meaning, the symbolism. And the beauty.

I don’t think you comprehend that spending money on beautiful things we love is an extension of the love we feel for one another–not a substitute and not a definition. I suspect commercials make you feel this way (see Pit thread regarding a JC Penney commercial). But as you’ll see from reading that, many people reject the notion these commercials are using to sell: that women want sparklie, not substance.

In actuality, the opposite is true. I want substance, and the sparklie symbolizes the love, makes for something beautiful to look at, and becomes something to be cherished for the rest of my life.

You are still judging based on your interpretation of what you see–not what owners of diamonds might actually think.


Ugh. I apologize for the atrocious quoting job above. I think you can decipher my responses vs. the original.

Preview is your friend, V! :wally:


If the guy is anything like my husband, he’d be fine with it-- he’d want to get you things that you like.

My Hubby would probably get off cheaper if he bought me jewelry, actually. If I counted it up, I’d be willing to bet the farm that he spends more on books per year for me than it would cost to buy a diamond ring.

Some guys like buying jewelry because it removes the responsibility for figuring out what their lady’s actual desires are. I have a thread on jewelry commercials in the Pit right now. In there, I related a story Hubby told me about his male co-workers. They were discussing Valentine’s day, and one of the guys said he didn’t know what to get his wife, so he’d just stop at the jewelry store. I was floored, because these people have been married for over twenty years-- how could he not know what she wanted?

I’d wear a diamond ring, but as my wedding ring–no plain gold band needed–and that would probably be my most important piece of jewelry to me–because of its emotional meaning to me.

I’d consider that useful and meaningful and worth all the money in the world to me if it was a symbol of my marriage. A flashy $5000 diamond necklace would be pretty, shiny, and absolutely useless to me if I had no emotional connection with it whatsoever.

I can’t help but sniff at the OP’s cynicism. I don’t know what kind of women SenorBeef is acquainted with, but they really don’t sound like the majority of women I know. In fact, it almost sounds as if they are actually TV sitcom characters.

I’ve also never heard of his idea that an engagement ring is “temporary,” and that it is apparently only worn before the wedding and then put away in a box somewhere. Not by the majority of owners, I assure you!

As for the assertion of shallow attitudes like “look at this huge diamond…I’m better than you,” it’s really more like a proud “look how much my man values me - aren’t I lucky?” Not that everyone can understand the difference, but I do.

I won’t bother to repeat some of the excellent apologetics given by others in defense of those who truly enjoy and wear their jewelry, because I haven’t got anything that would add much.

As to your comments about real vs. imitation (costume) jewelry - often, it’s an issue of quality (although I agree that the markup on jewelry is ridiculous, and would be thrilled if it were not so). Also, I personally am allergic to base metals, so I only wear gold - it doesn’t give me itchy, weepy open sores on my skin the way fake stuff does. It doesn’t tarnish the way silver does (and I don’t like the look of white metals). The fake stones also don’t have the durability of genuine corundum (sapphire, ruby) and diamond.

So, you don’t understand the desire for jewelry. OK, fair enough. It’s based in the desire to look at pretty objects, but I doubt I can explain it fully to you and still help you understand. Just like I highly doubt you can help me understand the desire to play video/computer games, or to have children, or take drugs. But, with the exception of the last, my inability to understand the desire doesn’t validate putting down those who do. Nor yours.

Perhaps this is true to some extent - I’m still fairly young, and only one of my friends ever got married. However, I have personally encountered at least 2 “scare” incidents that “OMG THIS DIAMOND MIGHT NOT BE RIDICULOUSLY EXPENSIVE AND REAL!!! HE DOESN’T LOVE ME!!”

I guess I don’t pay that much attention. From my recollection most people just wear a simple gold wedding ring, rather than anything bigger. I rarely notice married women wearing a diamond ring. And I think someone explained to me that that’s how it worked when I was young, so perhaps that stuck with me.

Well let me ask this.

If there was some sort of weird cultural craze for, say, blue ribbons, and somehow magically there was a blue ribbon consortium that had a monopoly on making them, and they sold for $1000 an inch. Would you be happy if your fiance spent $5000 to buy you a 5 inch blue ribbon?

I realize that’s a silly question on the surface, but I’m wondering if it’s the act of simply spending so many resources to try to please a person that’s the big issue here. If someone bought a $1000 bottle of wine, and then dumped it down the drain in your honor, would you get a similar thrill? Genuinely curious.

Fair enough. I’m pretty ignorant as far as the quality of fake jewelry. I get the impression that some of the stuff can be faked very well (if a diamond ring requires a glass cutting test, then it’s good enough to look like a diamond in my mind).

I’m not really trying to look down on people, although I’m sure it comes off that way. I don’t think “wtf???” to every expensive hobby/collection anyone has. What perplexes me is that this particular love for nearly useless but ridiculously expensive objects has such a wide appeal in society.

Hundreds of years ago, people used to have gigantic nails hammered into their doors uselessly. This was because nailmaking was expensive - it was simply to show off “hey! I can throw away a ton of money on something totally useless!” and I’m wondering if the love of Jewelry is the most common way left to represent the same thing.

In a related question, if Diamonds weren’t monopolized and controlled as they are, and they were much cheaper, would the giving of diamond rings still have the same appeal? If not, why not?

I think it’s 2 different things. Diamonds ARE valuable, and spending that much on someone is a way to show them how much you care. But there is also the gold digger aspect where only an expensive gift will please. I guess it depends on where both party’s heart are.

Well, at least in some societies (before women started working/were allowed to become educated), jewellry formed the lump sum of her assets. It was what she went into the marriage with and it belonged solely to her. Hence the desire to accumulate as much as possible-first to insulate against potential widowhood/being dumped and second to make herself more valuable as a potential marriage partner (I mean, just in case you have to fall on hard times and pawn it).

You also seem to view it entirely as an exercise in consumption whereas in my experience (and granted that’s culturally driven) it really is an artisan trade. Many of these people are artists who have been passing on knowledge to their heirs (sonar/goldsmith is a caste in India)-and someof the designs I wear are positively ancient (I just saw earrings exactly like mine in the antiquities department of a museum!). Despite the ready availability of more modern machine cut jewellry that she could get in India, my mother still insists on commissioning pieces from our family goldsmith-mainly because the type of designs, down to the actual colour of the gold (what they’ll mix to water down the carats to 22) is specific to our particular ethnic group. And some pieces of jewellry are just culturally required for me at certain ceremonies-for instance, two pieces that most women of my ethnic group wear while getting married include the nath (large pearl covered nose ring) and the bajuband (armlet).

Anyway, I guess I’m just the type of person that can’t get het up over how other people spend their money be it art (because you can say why do we need that, too) or jewellry or whatever.

Genuine curiosity deserves a fair answer.

I don’t happen to personally find much inherently beautiful about blue ribbons, so it’s hard to imagine wanting a $5K one “just because” of a weird cultural craze. But - here’s a parallel that might work:

My husband bought a $10K engagement/wedding ring for a woman he was engaged to a few years before he met me; she called it off and gave him back the ring.

When he asked me to marry him, he asked me if I wanted that ring. It was pretty, but not in my style/taste for a wedding ring. I told him I’d love to have it as a right-hand ring, if he wanted to give it to me, but that I wanted a different ring for “our” engagement - one that (a) hadn’t been originally bought by him for another woman, and (2) one that better reflected my individual taste in wedding rings. He didn’t have a problem with it. If he had, I’d have accepted the one he already had, or compromised on having the stones reset, or something, to save him the money. But he wasn’t concerned about saving money - he was concerned about (a) showing me how much he loved & valued me, and (b) his image to his clients who might meet me (which has nothing to do with pressure from me). He actually spend less for the ring he bought me, but it fit both our criteria, so we’re both happy.

Taking this story & substituting your blue ribbon, I suppose I’d take the blue ribbon he’d already bought the other woman, because one blue ribbon looks the same as the next to me, and it would serve the cultural/societal purpose just fine. And then if he wanted to get me an additional love-gift, it could be an object I would truly enjoy - like a beautiful piece of jewelry! :slight_smile:

My point is, I’ve always been fascinated by the sparkle & shine of gold and gemstones (not just diamonds, though I do like them very much). I can hardly pass a jewelry store window without slowing down to look. I sometimes turn the TV channel to the shopping channels when they are showing jewelry. I have books on jewelry. I enjoy the jewelry that my husband has given me - I wear it most of the time, and look at it often, and it makes me feel happy when I do.

How is that useless? It isn’t to me.

For some people, yes. People like diamonds. I’m actually a bit cynical about diamonds as a symbol of eternity; Mohs’s scale makes them look good on that count, but they became a symbol of everlasting love in the late 1940s or early 1950s (I can’t recall) when an underpaid copywriter penned “Diamonds are forever.” Sapphires are more traditional, being blue and thus the color of fidelity. Of course, sapphires aren’t cheap, either. No durable gemstone–and most men don’t want to give the love of their life a ring that will fall apart–is cheap.

I do think that for some men, the financial sacrifice is part of the appeal. When I told my then-fiance I didn’t want an engagement ring, he took some flak from male friends who said that a man should show his commitment with a ring–putting his money where his mouth is, essentially. He should have to save up, and while doing so, think about whether the relationship is worth the financial sacrifice.

This may be where the 2-months-salary figure came from. I’m not a fan of that figure, but hey, at least it isn’t telling every man to spend $10,000 on a ring whether he can afford it or not.

It’s different for every couple, of course. I requested to have no engagement ring, but I’m always happy when I see a woman who has one. It means she’s found someone special, and we can all rejoice in that.

Would burning a roll of $100 bills accomplish the same thing in principle?

Or what about something useful like putting a down payment on your future home?

Since we’re “old” in comparison to your friends, he already owned a home, and 3 cars (2 of them old, but still…), and all the other things we “need.” Possibly why jewelry doesn’t seem as much a waste of money to me. Beats him wasting it on poker.

Why wouldn’t the motivation be similiar? Just because jewelry is far more common than stamp collecting doesn’t mean it’s any more complicated.

Because it’s real. Why bother with the Amazing Spider Man #1 when a reprint gives you the exact same story? Why bother with a genuine civil war saber when a replica can be had for a fraction of the cost?

There you go with the “throw money away” comment again. It isn’t throwing money away if you’re deriving some value from the purchase. Spending $1,000 on a baseball card seems a waste to me because I don’t value little pieces of cardboard with professional athletes I don’t care about, but for those who do the purchase is worth it.


People have given motivations other than “collecting rare/interesting” things, and I’ve been asking questions about those motivations - so you can’t discard my questions by saying that the collecting analogy explains them.