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Interesting post from FatWallet
"Never leave home without American Express"
"Where do you want to go today?"
"Diamonds are forever"
"Coke is it"
and so on and so forth.
Before 1950s, the traditional engagement present was a down payment for a house or for the soon-to-be-wife's new car. Something tangible that has an impact on the newlyweds' life together.
In 1950s, DeBeers started a comprehensive and perhaps the most effective marketing campaign in history. The campaign was to turn diamonds into something that every woman MUST have, regardless of the costs. It started with DeBeers providing diamonds to famous celebrities who wore them and were paid to proclaim that diamonds were their best friends. American women, seeing the hype surrounding the diamonds, started to request their husbands or boyfriends to buy them diamond rings. Soon, diamonds became "Owner's pride, Neighbor's envy". One thing led to another until finally, diamonds became "a woman's best friend".
Diamonds are a product of excessive marketing hype started by DeBeers in 1950s (between 1950 and 2000, DeBeers controlled 90% of the world's diamond supply).
I am quite surprised Microsoft did not follow DeBeer's strategy. If it had, then the engagement present would have been a $5000 boxed package of 4 CD-ROMs containing Microsoft Windows XP which would have been a woman's new best friend.
For the record, I never bought a single diamond for my wife. Instead, I bought her 22-karat and 24-karat intricately designed traditional gold jewelry from reputable gold jewelers in western India. Unlike diamonds, gold is timeless and requires no marketing hype.