Bathtub couple
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Is Romance Changing?

When you compliment a lady on her diamond necklace, her diamond earrings, bracelet or wedding set that may have adorned her finger most of her life, the response can vary from a bright smile or a demure “thank you” to a proud origin story detailing where it was received, on what occasion, and perhaps even the weights, qualities and pedigree of the gemstones.

This is because a diamond’s story, as much as the aesthetic component, has traditionally been about the diamond’s story.

Beautiful ladies
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Romancing the stone

Long before DeBeers and N.W. Ayer & Son famously declared “A Diamond Is Forever,” the industry was trading on the romanticism of diamonds and their timeless nature. The idea that a component piece of Mother Earth, more than a billion years old, can be worn, displayed, and celebrated for beauty and value – not to mention permanency of both token and relationship – continues to bring people feelings of comfort and pride. For long-lasting relationships, those feelings often grow with age.

Tik-Tok

But are younger generations learning – stay with me, here – “lab-grown lifestyle habits” which will increasingly inform their diamond decisions? Here is what I mean:

Phone digital
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As technology has improved, the information and resources available to us have followed suit. Would you like the hottest news right now? Pull up Reddit on your phone. See what’s trending on Twitter. Thumb through Flipboard and see what your ‘’friends” are saying on social channels. It’s instant immersion.

This is a sharp contrast from elder generations, when people waited for the 6:00 news from one of three sources – not three-thousand – sitting in a room and tuning in live at that hour, precisely. In those days people could not instantly connect with news, nor with friends. You’d need to slowly rotate a telephone’s dial, waiting for it to return between each number, inquire if the person was available and remain tethered to the wall while you had the conversation.

Old phone
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Now it’s rather amazing

You simply speak connectivity into existence, “Hey Siri, Call Caroline…” and boom, let the discussion begin.

So now we come to diamonds. Ah, romantic diamonds. Each one with its timeless, billion-years story, enduring since forever, through all the ages of man. Natural callbacks to the past, unequaled in appeal thanks to “forever” symbolism.

Woops. I’ve just been informed that Meghan Markle’s well-publicized pair of drop earrings only took a few days to grow. And here come Emma Watson, Zoe Kravitz, Penelope Cruz, Lady Gaga and scores of others sporting lab-grown diamonds all of a sudden.

Why so popular?

Perhaps it’s the trendiness of such wickedly adamantine-capable technology. Perhaps it’s the (dubious) claims of lab grown diamonds as an environmentally conscious choice (we’ll come back to that another day).

More likely, it’s the price-point. But I have to wonder if certain “lab-grown lifestyle habits” of the young are replacing their sense of romance. Does the immediacy of a lab grown diamond’s manufacture provide a subliminal instant gratification mindset that’s seeing a meteoric rise as technology competes for “now now now” market share?

Trendy girl
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You do you

I’m an analog girl. I didn’t grow up with vinyl records but I love them. Today’s children would see no use for them, except as oversized coasters. Natural diamonds still rule the school, as it were. But I wonder if the “digital” nature of lab grown newcomers will appeal more and more to graduating classes. I realize new generations can tweet, snap, and insta potential purchases to the world for likes and comments. I realize this can mean posting a birthday gift – or broadcasting that you’re engaged to friends on social media – before your family even knows. It is the nature of our new society and I do not begrudge the world as it is. I also realize it’s possible the idea of faster, cheaper, trendy diamonds grown with technology has great appeal to generations raised on social media. But can their origin stories – the details of their “births” and lives through the ages – be as enduring?

I simply love diamond stories. I love to sit with a glass of wine and listen to someone I’ve just met describe how her diamond pendant goes back three generations. The tale of her husband’s quest to purchase the first tiny diamond she wore, and the three larger sparklers she’s received since. The romance of her stone. The tales of her treasures which are generations old.

Who knows, if her narrative is compelling enough, maybe I’d even add her to my snap story.

Lady drinking wine
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Angi Butler

Angi's first career was in diamond, gemstone and fashion jewelry sales. Now a corporate executive, she shares her advice and opinions on these pages.

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