Monday, January 08, 2007

Jews Love: Diamonds

Last night I attended a bridal shower for a dear friend of mine. It was a lot of fun. But that isn't what was interesting. What was interesting was that I am pretty sure that I was the only girl/woman in attendance (aside from the bride's sister) who is not engaged/married. Granted, I am a couple of years younger, but it was still rather disheartening. I knew that I was in an alternate universe when the conversation focused on how to keep one's engagement ring clean, and when one should take it off. (Doing dishes: yes, showering: no)

Of course, as a result of this, poor CJ had to listen to my feelings on engagement rings. Basically I don't like the idea of spending two months salary on a ring, I think that the money could be better spent (on retirement, for instance), nor do I like the comparisons that necessarily follow. How big it is, how much it cost, where it was purchased, etc, etc.

Everyone knows that Jews and diamonds traditionally go together. Just watch "The Tribe" or walk around the diamond district of NYC. Historically Jews have been forbidden to work in fields other than usury, metalsmithing, or gem cutting, which, incidentally were trades that were highly portable. Therefore it made sense to concentrate wealth in gems and metals. One of my newly married guy friends even mentioned that he bought his fiancee a single, large rock instead of the trendier 3-stone setting, because in the event that they ever were in trouble financially it would be easier to liquidate, and worth more.

Generally, however, this does not appear to be the thought behind big rings. It appears to be a facet of a newly wealthy community, one that is rather incestuous (not in the gross way), competitive, and increasingly status-conscious.

As for the bride? She has a lovely heirloom ring from her fiancee. And when it comes down to it, I don't really care what my ring looks like, as long as I love the guy, and he didn't buy it online.


Shoshana said...

You must have a lot more fortitude than I do - if the conversation had steered to diamond-care around me, I would have used it as my excuse to leave.

Annie said...

Shoshana- we were all sitting together in a mode of transport. I was a captive audience.

LT said...

Have you, by any chance, seen Blood Diamond?

Annie said...

LT- not yet, but I've heard great things. I should have mentioned that I'd prefer a conflict-free diamond (if a diamond) when the time comes.

Anonymous said...

Diamonds- I've got a good friend who deals them and is quite successful at it- and its a fascinating industry- but there is something about it, the one-upmanship of it that makes me crazy.

Jessica said...

I agree with Shoshana: I would have wanted to leave but you were captive. I just don't understand the ones up manship associated with weddings and jewelry and bnai mitzvot. The biggest party, the biggest rings don't mean they are the best and it shocks me that so many people well miss that point.

I'd much prefer a simple and well thought out ring.

Of course, I'd be thrilled about a fiance in general, forget the ring!

Ariella said...

Why do you object to diamond being purchased online?
BTW a diamond seller I know insists that Italian are bigger diamond customer than Jews

Anonymous said...

How do you feel about synthetic rings? Companies have gotten incredibly good at it so no one can tell, but they cost a fraction of the price.

Anniegetyour said...

Amishav- maybe then the whole "mine is bigger" thing is related to the industry itself.

Jessica- Last summer I attended a bar mitzvah in Israel for a member of my family, instead of paying for a huge NY tri-state-area bar mitzvah, the family paid for the whole extended family (29 people) to go to Israel for 10 days. It was one of the most beautiful b'nei mitzvot I've ever attended, and definitely less pressure on the kid.

Ariella- I want my (entirely imaginary at this point) fiancee to pick out a ring in person. It seems impersonal to do it online and get it in the mail. I want him to give me a ring that he saw and thought of me, it seems harder to do that online. Then again, as long as I love the guy, the ring is totally tertiary. (Secondary is that my family likes him)

Anon- I'd rather have a non-diamond stone than a synthetic ring. Just like I'd rather carry a less expensive purse than have a knock-off. It sort of feels intellectually more honest.

Micia said...

Being half & half Black/Jewish you know I love the bling.... LOL!!!