1. I have received many emails over the years asking my opinion of diamonds as a means of wealth storage. I have never said anything one way or the other because I really didn’t know much about it. Well, I visited at length with a friend who has experience in the retail jewelry business, and it turns out the answer to the diamond question is a resounding NO. Gold and silver are pretty much your only options. Diamonds and other so-called “investment grade gems” are pure sucker bait. Steer well clear.
I am not a big jewelry hound, but confess to buying a pair of diamond stud earrings years and years ago as a little wealth storage play. It turns out that my earrings, as well as pretty much all other diamonds out there are worth very, very little, and are almost impossible to sell. Unlike … gold and silver, the markets for which are robust.
My friend sent me a link to a completely fascinating article on the DeBeers cartel and how the whole diamond market and mystique is a stone-cold fabrication – one of the most successful scams ever pulled, if you ask me. Did you know that diamond engagement rings are a pure invention of DeBeers within the last century? Further, did you know that DeBeers conditioned the global populace to assign an almost supernatural value to diamonds, thus keeping people from ever trying to sell them back into the market?
“Gasp! You can’t sell Mom’s wedding ring! Mom and Dad’s marriage is physically embodied in that diamond! A diamond is FOREVER!”
It’s a pure con. Brilliant, and scary in how effective it has been, but a pure con.
HERE is the article from the February 1982 issue of The Atlantic.
The thing that is so fascinating to me about this article is the fact that it was written in ARSH 1982. This isn’t propaganda put out by some prepper/goldbug blogger last week. This is thirty-two years old, guys. Heck, Barack Obama was in Pakistan with the Chandoo brothers, just a glimmer in Bill Ayers’ and Khalid al-Mansour’s eyes, and ‘Merica was a shining city on a hill, when this was published.
And on a personal, life-coachey note: gentlemen, if you get sweet on some chick, and she gets all loud demanding that you spend x percent of your income on a ring, you need run as hard and as fast as you can in the opposite direction. Seriously. I knew a guy who asked some chick to marry him, and she demanded that he spend $45,000 on her ring. And he did – he had to get a loan, which he is probably still paying off. And it was the most hideous monstrosity you ever saw. And she freely told everyone not only how much it cost, but that the marriage was contingent upon the ring. And she wasn’t kidding. You just kinda suspected that she was the type to have already planned out the alimony package based off of duration and income projections. I just wanted to shake him.
My advice? Take your young lady to a Swarovsky Crystal store. They have some gorgeous faux-diamond rings. I saw one not long ago that was right at $100. If she doesn’t bat an eye, you picked a winner. Proceed with all due dispatch.
Bottom line: don’t buy gems as a wealth storage vehicle, because you will be FLAYED ALIVE if you try to unload them. There is no resale market, and they aren’t even rare or scarce. They are just sparkly.
2. The only jewelry I own and wear are a pair of fake diamond stud earrings (they match everything and I never take them out), my watch, which is exactly ten years old and in perfect shape – it’s a Rado, a brand I recommend heartily, and my lapel pin. People have asked me for years what my lapel pin is (you can see it in all of my videos). It is the Little Prince. Chapter 21 of The Little Prince, the chapter with the Fox, is one of my favorite bits of prose.
It was then that the fox appeared.
“Good morning,” said the fox.
“Good morning,” the little prince responded politely, although when he turned around he saw nothing.
“I am right here,” the voice said, “under the apple tree.”
“Who are you?” asked the little prince, and added, “You are very pretty to look at.”
“I am a fox,” the fox said.
“Come and play with me,” proposed the little prince. “I am so unhappy.”
“I cannot play with you,” the fox said. “I am not tamed.”
“Ah! Please excuse me,” said the little prince.
But, after some thought, he added:
“What does that mean–‘tame’?”
“You do not live here,” said the fox. “What is it that you are looking for?”
“I am looking for men,” said the little prince. “What does that mean–‘tame’?”
“Men,” said the fox. “They have guns, and they hunt. It is very disturbing. They also raise chickens. These are their only interests. Are you looking for chickens?”
“No,” said the little prince. “I am looking for friends. What does that mean–‘tame’?”
“It is an act too often neglected,” said the fox. It means to establish ties.”
“‘To establish ties’?”
“Just that,” said the fox. “To me, you are still nothing more than a little boy who is just like a hundred thousand other little boys. And I have no need of you. And you, on your part, have no need of me. To you, I am nothing more than a fox like a hundred thousand other foxes. But if you tame me, then we shall need each other. To me, you will be unique in all the world. To you, I shall be unique in all the world . . .”
“I am beginning to understand,” said the little prince. “There is a flower . . . I think that she has tamed me . . .”
“It is possible,” said the fox. “On the Earth one sees all sorts of things.”
“Oh, but this is not on the Earth!” said the little prince.
The fox seemed perplexed, and very curious.
“On another planet?”
“Are there hunters on that planet?”
“Ah, that is interesting! Are there chickens?”
“Nothing is perfect,” sighed the fox.
But he came back to his idea.
“My life is very monotonous,” the fox said. “I hunt chickens; men hunt me. All the chickens are just alike, and all the men are just alike. And, in consequence, I am a little bored. But if you tame me, it will be as if the sun came to shine on my life. I shall know the sound of a step that will be different from all the others. Other steps send me hurrying back underneath the ground. Yours will call me, like music, out of my burrow. And then look: you see the grain-fields down yonder? I do not eat bread. Wheat is of no use to me. The wheat fields have nothing to say to me. And that is sad. But you have hair that is the color of gold. Think how wonderful that will be when you have tamed me! The grain, which is also golden, will bring me back the thought of you. And I shall love to listen to the wind in the wheat . . .”
The fox gazed at the little prince, for a long time.
“Please–tame me!” he said.
“I want to, very much,” the little prince replied. “But I have not much time. I have friends to discover, and a great many things to understand.”
“One only understands the things that one tames,” said the fox. “Men have no more time to understand anything. They buy things all ready made at the shops. But there is no shop anywhere where one can buy friendship, and so men have no friends any more. If you want a friend, tame me . . .”
“What must I do, to tame you?” asked the little prince.
“You must be very patient,” replied the fox. “First you will sit down at a little distance from me–like that–in the grass. I shall look at you out of the corner of my eye, and you will say nothing. Words are the source of misunderstandings. But you will sit a little closer to me, every day . . .”
The next day the little prince came back.
“It would have been better to come back at the same hour,” said the fox. “If, for example, you come at four o’clock in the afternoon, then at three o’clock I shall begin to be happy. I shall feel happier and happier as the hour advances. At four o’clock, I shall already be worrying and jumping about. I shall show you how happy I am! But if you come at just any time, I shall never know at what hour my heart is to be ready to greet you . . . One must observe the proper rites . . .”
“What is a rite?” asked the little prince.
“Those also are actions too often neglected,” said the fox. “They are what make one day different from other days, one hour from other hours…”
3. Here is something beautiful. I have always liked “Fields of Gold” by Sting, and have the original recording on the Jukebox Ann page. But I came across this version today which is Sting and Edin Karamazov performing “Fields of Gold” with only two lutes. The Lute is a guitar-like instrument, and man, does this ever work. It is just gorgeous. Better than the original, in my opinion. Enjoy.