De Beers wants you to know that diamond demand is high and supply is increasingly scarce, so be prepared for the price of ice to increase. Ignore them, because companies like De Beers are quite literally in the business of convincing you that diamonds are worth more than they really should be.
The Guardian reports that, according to the cartel, mines in Botswana, South Africa and Namibia are running low and "unless major new discoveries are made in the coming years, supply can be expected to decline gradually from 2020." But please note that most likely will not spell trouble for De Beers:
A supply shortage might not necessarily be bad news for the Luxembourg-based firm, which accounts for around 33% of global rough diamond sales.
Demand from the US – the world's largest market for diamonds – and a growing appetite for the gems from China and India's middle class, will likely create a seller's market.
"Even under scenarios of volatile or weaker global economic growth, demand for diamonds is expected to show positive real growth in the next decade," De Beers said.
Maybe diamonds really are less and less readily available. But never forget that since, oh, the middle of the nineteenth century, De Beers has been performing a great big tap dance to convince the world that these sparkly hunks of carbon are totally worth loads of money and aren't common at all, nope, definitely not. In 1982, the Atlantic published a famous expose of the industry, which outlined how De Beers essentially controlled the market to ensure the stones sold for sufficiently inflated prices. And as this Priceonomics post recaps, the idea that diamond engagement rings are a requirement for holy matrimony was essentially invented from scratch in the 1940s. (And, OK, Marilyn didn't help.) De Beers doesn't control nearly as much of the international diamond market as they once did, but it's still worth treating their prices with some skepticism.
Hell, think of all the diamond-related advertising you've seen over the years. Compare that to the marketing you've seen for, say, emeralds. Makes you wonder why something supposedly so intrinsically valuable needs that much hype!
Don't even get me started on chocolate diamonds.
I've no doubt that De Beers will jack prices up in a heartbeat, if that's what their number-crunchers decide they can get away with. But we shouldn't let them get away with it. There are so many options besides forking over the money. You could buy one of the antique pieces lying around pawn shops all over America, for instance. Or buy one off somebody who got divorced — the resale market for diamonds is a joke at the expense of anyone who's ever been involved with a broken engagement. Or buy a sapphire instead. If they're good enough for Princess Di and Kate Middleton, they're good enough for you. Or a ruby. Or a really nice grandfather clock.
Please don't take this as personal criticism if you own diamonds; it's your money. Plus they really are beautiful, and ultimately an object is worth whatever you're willing to pay. Let's just make our buying decisions with all the info available, lest we get played by gemstone-slingers.