The last step in the commodity chain for diamonds is the retail portion. This is where the actual product, jewelry, gets to consumers. Various retail companies do their purchasing differently; some groups like to purchase the loose diamonds from the sorting centers while others like to have the jewelry already set. Regardless of how these companies get ahold of the mineral, the business has become quite large over the past century. The industry is currently estimated to be around seventy-two billion US dollars, of which the United States makes up over fifty percent of the market (The Diamond Industry Fact Sheet 3). These sales are directly related to economic standings. If the economy is up, people tend to have more money they can in turn purchase jewelry with. If it is down, people are much less likely to splurge on anything, let only a luxury such as a diamond ring (Rudnicka 5). Sales are also dependent on time of year as near 40% of total sales are made in the fourth quarter (October through December) as people are buying gifts for the holiday seasons.
This booming industry does have several key impacts on society around it. A negative is a near monopoly on the current diamond market. The De Beers Company owns almost 70% of all diamond markets as they have ties to thousands of companies across the entire globe (Rudnicka 5). This presents a huge problem as they can set the price of these diamonds to whatever they please to make a profit and people will still be willing to purchase them because of their inherently attractive shine and place in western culture. As long as diamond demand is kept worldwide, this company will continue to make huge profit and remain in control of the market. The capitalist pursuit of money leads to the taking advantage of others time and time again.
A more positive impact the diamond retail industry has been the role of diamond rings in western culture. The phrase “Diamonds are a girl’s best friend” was made famous by Marilyn Monroe in the 1953 film Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. But as the 20th century has progressed, diamonds and diamond rings have become well entrenched into social ideology. Part of the marriage process is the husband proposing to the wife and presenting a beautiful diamond ring. Yet again, capitalism comes into play as people will try to show stature and wealth by the size of the “rock” on their hand. As diamond mining and industry has become more efficient over time, so has the ideology of diamond jewelry in western culture.