|Storms River, South Africa|
|Cecil Rhodes, and his plan|
After his death, the De Beers diamond company had a near worldwide monopoly of a gemstone that the world cared less and less about (in 1932 worldwide diamond sales were about $100,000.) So, one day in the 1930s, they hired a firm called NW Ayers in the US to see what could be done. They tried to rescue a fading concept, the 'diamond engagement ring' through clever product placement. By 1979 the the worldwide diamond market was worth $2.1 Billion. Specifics are difficult to find, but in 2005 the worlds output of diamonds were worth $13.4 Billion. More than 80% of American engagement rings have a diamond, at an average cost of about $3,200.
|Me, breaking the (Apartheid) law|
That's only one part of what has become an astonishingly lucrative industry. What I now like to call, 'the Wedding-Industrial-Complex' has taken DeBeers lead and used clever marketing to convince people that an average American couple needs to spend an average of over $26,000 on a single day. There is nothing wrong with that, and I'm grateful that I've been invited to some truly remarkable weddings. At the end of the day, it's a couples decision and whatever it becomes should be considered a generous gift to the friends and family that they invite. But, when Erin and I talk about it, we found that even if we could afford it, it doesn't fit with our quirky priorities. We can think of other things we'd prefer to spend that kind of money on. That could be a year-long international adventure travel honeymoon, clean drinking water for about a thousand people that don't have it, or sending 650 poor kids to the schools Erin is developing for a year.
|Erin in 'Tano|
I asked Erin to marry me in Antananarivo, Madagascar. I'd been thinking about it for a long time, but it wasn't until we were lost in a conversation about how we both wanted to live an 'exceptional life' that I realized that I didn't need or want to wait any more. The next morning, we got up early and went shopping for rings in the jewelry district. I started the day by asking her to choose any ring she wanted, quite literally, and without any caveats. We looked at thousands of rings. Most of them, obviously, were diamonds.
For her engagement ring, Erin chose an Emerald.