THE DIAMOND CULTURE
Celebrated by the Ancients in myth and legend, for centuries the preserve of monarchs and potentates, diamonds, as the symbol of love, and enduring relationships, today occupy a special place in a popular culture that transcends disparities of wealth and status and extends across national and regional boundaries to the ends of the earth.
World-wide some three hundred million women own at least one piece of diamond jewellery, and each year husbands, lovers and women themselves spend almost forty billion dollars on about sixty million pieces containing some fifteen million carats of diamonds.
Behind these figures is an industry that is not only international, but in which all the component enterprises, wherever they may be, are interdependent. It is an extraordinary mix of the competitive entrepreneurial spirit and co-operation in matters of common interest, involving the Third World just as much as the industrialized countries.
Diamonds are mined in some twenty countries on four continents and give employment to over two hundred thousand people in the formal mining sector and countless independent diggers, legal and illicit. Diamond cutting and polishing in thirty-odd countries occupies eight hundred thousand people. Just as many are engaged in manufacturing, wholesaling and retailing diamond jewellery. All told about two million families are directly dependent on diamonds for their livelihood.
What distinguishes diamonds from other luxury products is that every stone is unique, a separate creation of nature, cut and polished to individual perfection. And just as every diamond is different, so too is every gift of diamonds unlike any other. For the individual who gives or wears a diamond, it is a deeply personal, enduring expression of the occasion it honours and the loving relationship it seals.
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