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a passionate repentance

Little thoughts. Little stuff.

Little thoughts. Little stuff.

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may God stand
I am reading about the diamond cartel."The Rise And Fall Of Diamonds" by Jay Epstein. I found mention of the book in an article about diamonds, and then in another article and while I didn't see the diamond cartel break apart in the eighties, as the book predicts, so far as I can tell the research is well done.

De Beers isn't hiding. It isn't really even trying to pretend that it doesn't maintain an artificial control over the value of diamonds by limiting supply. Because frankly it doesn't really *care* if people know. And most people don't really care *to* know. I learned the hard way when I sold my engagement ring in order to make the down payment on this house. The ring, valued at two thousand dollars at a local jeweller's by the appraiser there netted me precisely two hundred, and that was by and large for the gold of the setting.

So paying thousands of dollars for the stone you buy at the mall? Is a crock. The stones themselves aren't worth that much. De Beers spends a lot more making sure that the market isn't flooded with stones, or with synthetics that it didn't make than it does in actually mining the stones. The money comes if it comes in stones that are larger than one carat. And of course it makes much more money in bort..the industrial grade diamonds used for abrasives. Synthetics here have made getting diamond abrasive for cutting and shaping tools a lot easier. During the war, the president suspected that De Beers was not particularly interested in helping the Allies. In fact he suspected that high grade diamonds were going to Hitler from De Beers owned mines.

He asked the British Secret Service to assist him, and after a certain amount of time they agreed. The US ceased it's own investigation when it realized that if it *did* prosecute De Beers, it would then jeopardize it's own source for bort and diamond abrasive, and strain relations with Britain and the MI5. The South African company was deeply tied to the British Empire. Indeed, De Beers' founder was deeply emotionally committed to bringing all of South Africa and the Congo under British rule.

I originally got the book because I wanted to understand *how* the stones came from the mines to the cutters, and from the cutters, to the jewellers who set the stones. I ended up learning a *lot* more about how De Beers set up some mines, how they used one smuggler to catch other diamond smugglers. The book showed me a lot more about politics, and the machinations necessary to keep the diamond market afloat and controlled than it did show me much about stones, or the men who cut them.

I think it's ironic that oil and petroleum have cartels too..and I have to wonder if the oil prices are set and controlled just as artificially and as stringently as the diamonds are.
  • Makes me glad I got my rock for free. Now if I could just wrangle some free gas for my car...
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