I found this short (but rather provocative) article today about diamonds, asking why, in light of all we know about the exploitative nature of their mining and delivery to the market, women still feel the need for a rock to showcase their commitment to society at large. My own opinion is that, while the article raises some obvious points, it's not so nearly as one-sided as the author maintains: men don't just buy diamonds because their fiancees would never settle for anything less. They also do it (especially as the stone gets progressively larger and more garish) to show that they have the money to lavish on such things. as with so many other aspects of the masculine psyche, competition would seem to play as least an important role in selecting a diamond as something less exploitative but also less prestigious. Much the same can be said about over-the-top weddings where ostentatious display has little to do with the nature of the couple's love and much to do with attempts to impress those whom the party paying wishes to impress. As weddings and their trappings have never really been on my radar screen as a gay male (except tangentially through extended family and business associations), I've really never been sympathetic to such conspicuous consumption and display. To what degree would you, as women, tolerate the substitution of a less exploitative stone than a diamond in an engagement ring? FWIW, my great-grandmother accepted a ring of opals and rubies back in 1912 and treasured it until the day she died (though the marriage ended quickly and with the abandonment of her and my infant grandmother. Everyone else in the family considered the ring to be bad luck.