Diamond Rings as Virginity Insurance

April 7, 2012 in Daily Bulletin, Signature

Matthew O’Brien argues against it wasn’t just De Beers that led to the widespread adoption of diamonds; the initial surge of diamond imports happened four years before De Beers launched its advertising campaign. The role of diamonds as a form of social insurance was also important:

  • For a woman to get married it used to be extremely important for her to be a virgin. Yet most engaged couples reported having sex before the actual wedding.
  • There used to be “Breach of Promise to Marry” laws that allowed women to sue former fiancés who walked out on them, thus making them pay for losing their virginity to them.
  • When those laws were repealed diamonds became what we would think of as insurance. An engagement can be thought of as a loan in this time: the man is promising to marry the woman in the future in return for her companionship in the present. The diamond is collateral. In this time if the fiancé broke off the engagement the former bride-to be would keep the ring.
  • Econometric analysis backs up this suggestion. States that repealed the Breach of Promise to Marry laws earlier were more likely to see a surge in diamond imports.

To read about how things are different now since women have their own careers and now earn both more degrees and more money, as well as some relationship advice when it comes to deciding whether or not you should buy a diamond for your girlfriend, click here.

Source: The Atlantic