shiny things 2: the "diamonds?!?" edition


bright metal melts away.
Attention is the hardest thing
to pay.

Hi there, folks. This blog has been a pretty heavy place for the last little while, and I for one need a short break from all the deep thinking. That cinquain above is one of my favorites of mine (what an awkward phrase that is!). I hope someday to have an office with a desk over which I can have it framed. Cause, y'know, like my all-caps-having motto, tis a good thing to keep before my eyes on a daily basis. Though they are not fluid, like glass, or easily marred, like silver and gold, diamonds nonetheless decay. Slowly, over the course of centuries, a few at a time, atoms of carbon on the surfaces of the stone will loose their bonds with their neighbors and drift off into the air. Like water from the surface of a pond, or skin cells flaking off a body. In merely human timescales, yes, they provide a good image of permanence. But in the longer times needed to measure the ages of stones, stars, species--diamonds are not forever. The only things that last forever are the things you can't take back, the things that echo through time, that change whatever they touch. Which is why the hardest currency is attention.

Gah! You see what I'm like when I get my pontificatey-thing all revved up? I could go on like this for months!

And so in the interests of happiness, sanity, and warm twinkly feelings in the brain, I've decided it's time for another edition of shiny things. I want to focus on Dave's favorite among the gemstones: diamonds. (My favorite is probably opal, so don't you fellow opal-lovers out there get discouraged. I'll get to 'em.) Even all by themselves diamonds are pretty, though I think they do best as supporting players for more colorful stones. However, diamonds are more notable as symbols of wealth and opulence, and as such inspirers of greed, violence, and truly, truly bizarre design concepts. I'm talking about forms of weird which go way beyond mere aesthetics. So today's theme is: people do the darnedest things with diamonds.

Of course, no discussion of diamonds would be complete without bringing to the forefront the issue of diamonds as an excuse for slavery and bloodshed. The caption on this photo translates, "What price for these diamonds?" Which is one reason I'd be hesitant to go around buying diamonds even if I could afford them. I've read jewelers' forum posts where professionals expressed grave doubts about the reliability of "conflict free" guarantees on any stones. For the simple reason that somewhere along the chain you get back to the guarantee being only a given seller's unsupported word that, indeed, the things they're selling were not obtained by forced labor or as a result of murderous theft.

This was the same forum where I found an awesome explanation of how to tell real diamonds apart from simulants quite simply. Dad had left behind some shiny pebbles, and I wanted to double-check what they were without having to pay a jeweler's fee. The poster (alas that I cannot find this forum now!) put up a very good picture. He'd drawn two dots on a piece of plain paper and put two stones face-down on top of the dots. The man-made stone refracted the dot cleanly into a sharply-defined circle. The genuine diamond, being full of microscopic flaws and inclusions, scattered the image of the dot into an indistinguishable blur.

So if you ever find yourself in possession of a pile of shiny pebbles, give the dot test a try. One of these days I might dig some of Dad's old (hardly-used) jewelry-making supplies out of their boxen and try my hand at it, secure in the knowledge that I'm not trapping real, valuable stones in my clumsy creations.

This, however, just makes me a little sick. In a slightly different way than the violence does.

Who would do this to diamonds? Who would do this to a dog? Who would do this?!?!!

Perhaps this is part of the answer.
My first reaction to this diamond pacifier from Itsmybinky was something like this:

"Ha. Go on, website, pretend these are actually for babies, while in the next breath advising they are not recommended for actual use because the jewels are a choking hazard. Riiiight. Actual use by babies. What kind of moron is going to buy this little bauble for an infant who won't be able to appreciate the complex symbolism until they're too old to care? Oh, no, my friend. Roleplaying ain't just for geeks with dice."

But then I read that they were designed originally for Donald and Meliana Trump, as a souvenir gift for their infant son. So I guess somebody really is crazy enough to spend $17k on a pacifier the baby can't even use. (And I should get my mind out of the gutter.) Who knew?

See, I just didn't understand the price structure up at the top. If you want to buy a diamond-encrusted gift for an adult, a mere $17k will not cut it. Unless you're just, like, friends or something. This here diamond-encrusted wedding dress (dress design by Renee Strauss, jewel design by Martin Katz), for example, will set you back a cool $12 million.

Make sure you mark that down. In case you ever become the richest person in the world and want to walk around in / purchase for your female companion a dress with which you could conceivably purchase (or at least feed, clothe, and house) a small country. This is the dress for you.

Are you not marking this down in your dayplanners? I don't hear flipping and scribbling.

Dang. I guess we're all too poor to be able to really be stylish.

At least we can still surf the internet in style, though. Right?

Gaah! Nooooooo!

Not only must I live with the shame and uncoolness of not owning a Mac, I must now also live with the shame of not owning a diamond-encrusted, 24-karat gold Mac.

Woe, woe unto me. Well, I'd better go check the time. I'll just glance at my still-reasonably-cool cheap watch* to see if I can still make it to the store--

Wait, what?

Oh, the sorrow! Oh, the piercing envy which hath piercéd my organs in various hurtsome ways!

Just think of all the different places and events you could legitimately wear this. Any place where it would be appropriate to show off your extreme wealth in the form of diamonds mounted in a skullhead pattern, and where you weren't worried about your watch getting stolen. Anywhere you wanted, really. Except for work, bars, rock concerts, weddings, graduations, funerals...

Hmm. I suppose you could wear it to award shows. Assuming you got invited.

By the by, the website where I found this, geekologie, posts about some other really weird and interesting stuff. Like a gun operated alarm clock, running jackets made from blow-up dolls (nsfw), and a sandal for smuggling booze. Odds of you being able to wear/operate any of those on an airplane: close to zero. I think this guy goes on the science tab on my sidebar. Rock.

Moving on!

Here the artist Damien Hirst has taken the whole diamonds 'n' death theme in a startling and very, very expensive direction. This life-size diamond-covered platinum skull is entitled "For the Love of God" for some reason. It set a record for the most expensive piece of art sold by a living artist. What I want to know is, how the heck did an artist afford the materials to make this astonishing bauble of great and shiny creepiness? Blackmail? Extreme disco blackmail? Pilfering bits of pacifiers and dresses?

I didn't want to end on such a macabre image, so here's the Hope diamond. Gorgeous, huge, genuine, named something positive, and as far as I know, safely tucked away in a museum somewhere.


That's how diamonds should be.

*In the interests of accuracy, I do not in fact own a watch. I am a city dweller surrounded by banks with those flashing signs that display the time and temp, buses which display the time on a convenient little scrolling marquee up at the front, and endless passersby whom one can stop and politely inquire as to the time. (They all have cell phones for that purpose.) Even if I had a watch, I doubt I'd wear it, for much the same reason I let my earring-holes close. One less thing to compulsively check even when I don't need to be worrying about it. One less accessory get in the way of my movements, catch in my hair, fall off, or otherwise distract me more than it provides me with enjoyment.

P.S. Extreme disco
blackmail is my new favorite phrase. Aww yeah.


Amber E said...

Man what crazy ways to spend too much money, you make a point about explotation and diamonds they are pretty but not worth exploiting people for.

Man, gold is not a good substance to use for a lap top. It is too soft and will get all scratched up.

Fiat Lex said...

I know, right? Makes me want to only buy used diamonds, ie, ones that are already in circulation and if they had violence done for them, it is already over.

Yeah, when Dave saw the gold laptop he was like "imagine how hot that thing would get!" Cause gold is very conductive, and our regular plastic laptop still needs to be put on top of a towel or pillow because it gets sooo hot, so it's hard to imagine the scorchiness of a gold one!

Fiat Lex said...

PS - deleted that "use our diamond certifying service to but diamonds in Australia!!!" comment. Since I a) am not buying diamonds, b) have never been to Australia, and c) posted a post with the word diamond in the title, I think we can safely assume that was a bot. :P

Anonymous said...

As our one time friend Andre would have said, diamonds are the shiznit-o-bang bang plus one. There was not a product featured here that I don't want, unless you count the picture that was half bloody African child. I really have no use for that, and until I can afford the other pictures, I find it morally disgusting.