IMHO Installment #55: Blood Diamond Didn't Suck, As I Thought It Would

06 Jun 2007

diamond.jpg

So, I watched Blood Diamond last night ...

Perhaps I've said this before but, just for the record, I've always hated movies involving treasured objects that get tossed away at the end. Titanic, another DiCaprio flick, is a perfect example. I wanted to strangle someone when that old withered hag tossed her necklace overboard at the end; she should have dropped the necklace on the deck and jumped in herself. Same for the craptacular movie Congo. I've repressed most of the painfully awful experience of watching that one, but do recall the main characters narrowly escaping, only to throw the diamonds back into the jungle.

These actions are meant to teach us idiots a lesson about morality -- that money is evil, for one, and that we're too stupid to realize this, for another. (Few ever suggest, as I'm going to do here in this parenthetical remark, that the reason this "lesson" has never truly sunk in with the public, and thus requires reasserting time and time again, is because it's painfully untrue and diametrically opposed to human nature. Money is actually the root of all good. But, I'll save that rant for some other time, some other blog ... )

Anyway, with those precedents, I fully expected DiCaprio's character to have some sort of realization toward the end and chuck the multi-million dollar pink diamond into a river, or shoot it. To his credit, he did not. Not that it was a cheery film, of course. But at least the diamond made it out safe and someone got paid for it. I know ... I'm skipping over the whole "message" of the film -- that the world's lust for shiny African stones is creating unspeakable atrocities. Others can discuss that big picture; again, I just like to hone in on subtle, seemingly unimportant, nuances sometimes.

When my wife and I got engaged, by the way, we opted for a conflict-free diamond. Of course, we didn't know what a conflict-free diamond was at the time, so save your congratulatory emails. But, it definitely was one. How do I know? Because we bought it at an estate jewelry shop near Alexandria, VA. It's a huge fucking rock -- 1 carat -- set in a platinum filigree, circa 1920, I'd guess. But, it didn't break the bank, really, even on my meager editor's salary at the time. (I think it was $750 or so.)

Why so cheap? Well, for one, it was old, and most people these days don't want "used" diamonds for some reason (which is odd, as the damned things are millions of years old, anyway). But it also has "inclusions," which is a fancy way of saying imperfections. In this case, there are some black flecks embedded toward the bottom of the stone (unnoticeable unless you look closely). Otherwise, the diamond has all the "fire" it's supposed to.

Oddly, though, I think the inclusions give the stone a bit of character. Why does a diamond have to be "perfect," anyway? They've drilled that into our heads so well that I don't think you can even find an "imperfect" stone in any retail shop these days. Hell, the imperfect ones are probably rarer than the perfect ones, when you consider it. And, what's all this nonsense about an appropriate cost of an engagement ring being "three times one's monthly salary." The average guy makes, what, three grand or so a month. So, the average Joe is dropping $9,000 the day he pops the question? Somehow, I doubt that one. (All for a commodity that isn't actually as rare as everyone thinks; remember, it's all a tightly controlled market!)

Aside from my publicly dissing the Hope Diamond yesterday, I will admit a fascination for precious natural resources -- gold, platinum, diamonds, gems. It's been that way with me since childhood. My father's boss was a gemstone hobbyist, or possibly a part-time jeweler. He used to give my father magazines (one was called "Lapidary Journal") for me to read every so often. That got me into treasure hunting, metal detecting, and reading magazines on those topics. I used to dream about discovering a huge stash of gold and treasure from the civil war days, reportedly lost in the general area where I grew up.

I've always had this dream of being like Steve Martin's character in A Simple Twist of Fate -- slowly amassing a huge cache of gold coins. In the film, Martin's character buys one a month or so. Then, he takes then home and just admires and plays with them the way you often see poker players doing tricks with their chips. I believe, as a matter of trivia, that Martin is kind of into dexterity tricks like that (stacking chips/coins with one hand, rolling them over his fingers, etc.). So, I believe the tricks shown in that film were actually performed by Martin. (I'm not 100% sure, though. Just recall reading an article once somewhere ... )

I even bought a set of poker chips once just to practice those things, in anticipation of my amassing such quantities of gold coins as my playthings. It hasn't happened yet, of course; I'm still living paycheck to paycheck, which doesn't leave a lot of room for coins that cost around $745 a pop. But a guy can dream ... I'll be sure to post someday when I've made my first gold coin acquisition.

Sorry for the random rambling today ...

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On June 7, 2007, Winter wrote:

Is money really evil?

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