« Explore the Homunculus | Main | The Ivy League Nudes »

The Allure of Fake Diamonds

c6_1For some, the allure of the diamond is intrinsic to its rarity. For others, the appeal is its unique beauty, apparent indestructibility, or fiery origins. For me, the allure is in how a diamond can truly ignite the fires of avarice in all of us.

You'll notice that there are commodities exchanges around the world for Gold, Silver, Platinum. Even Frozen Concentrated Orange Juice (FCOJ) has speculative traders. Notably lacking however, is an exchange for diamonds. A diamond's value lies in the perception of its rarity rather than its true abundance.

Given the mystique surrounding this adamantite stone, think of the hijinks a pile of fake diamonds (which are indistinguishable to the layman) can generate. Here's a tale.

The Tale of the Scratched Glasses

I was at my favorite kind of party. His friends in the den. Her friends in the kitchen. A few random neighbors sitting on the stairs. No one I knew very well. As the representative for the "friends from work", I was doing a great job of eating as much food as I could. At least I looked busy.

About halfway through the requisite 'proper time to stay at a party', I had a little inspiriation. To my wife, I was as transparent as glass. "No", she mouthed. If I listened, I might stay out of trouble. Then what fun would I have? A large, rowdy group had just left the party and the timing was perfect.

During a quick foray to "get some air", I retrieved a cubic zirconia from the car. I keep them in a film can inside the glove box. They're good for leaving along with my tip at restaurants. They don't work as bribes with local law enforcement.

Now, you have to be very measured when choosing a plausible stone. Too big and people get suspicious. Too small and it won't be noticed (or be "worth" enough to cause real havoc). I decided on a nice one carat equivalent, brilliant cut, cubic zirconia. These gems look so good that, at first glance, even professionals can't tell the difference.

The stone is so small that palming it between the fingers is trivial. Depositing it somewhere unnoticed is a piece of cake. A quick reentrance to the party, a beeline for the chips and salsa, and mission accomplished. "Why look at that glistening diamond next to the napkin pile!"

I go over to the den to wait. Patiently. It can take a while (and there are no guarantees). It's entirely possible that the stone won't be discovered until the party cleanup and after we've gone.

The secret to success is keeping your trap shut. It's very tempting to let others in on the fun but, people are blabbermouths by nature, especially if they've had a few drinks. Not only does it ruin the surprise but it can leave you in bad standing with the party's host (who doesn't appreciate you taking over their party with your 'little game') or your unsuspecting mark (who, once the secret is revealed, is made to look like a greedy fool). Ah, the sweet pleasure that cannot be shared.

When your stone is found, you'll know it! Funny things start happening. The finder, bouncing around the party, starts agglomerating like a snowball. People actually stick to him! There's the social dance titled "Has anyone lost a diamond?". This is how your wife will find out that you didn't listen to her.

What you can read on the finder's face is a desperate hope that no one has lost a diamond. "Then it will be mine...all mine!" You'll know you're at a party with real sleazeballs if someone claims the stone. And, where's the empty setting to prove it?

After no one takes ownership, various 'experts' (who themselves are green with envy) will suggest that the reason no one is missing a stone is because it isn't real. How could such a valuable object appear out of nowhere? Invariably someone will think of recently departed guests prompting a flurry of cell phone calls and lucid descriptions of the events to date. Still, no takers.

This is your moment to act. While acting as envious as those around you, exclaim, "Only a real diamond can scratch glass!".

Why of course! We've all seen this on TV. It must be true!

Well, diamond does scratch glass, but so do a lot of other things. It's like saying that the only way to get diarrhea is from Montezuma's Revenge. Nevertheless, in the heat of the moment, you're guaranteed buy-in from the crowd (note: this doesn't work at parties where the guests work in engineering rather than, say, marketing).

At this particular party, there were a band of naysayers who had all but convinced the finder that his stone was bogus. All the party guests had gathered round and a leading theory emerged: that the stone was a fancy rhinestone from the host's daughter's Barbie doll. All agreed that a scratch test would seal the deal.

Suddenly, and in what seemed like slow motion, the finder (now sure the stone was false) pulled off his spectacles and did a scratch test right across the glass. Doh! A nice deep scratch. You could hear the grating, scraping sound, like fingernails across a chalkboard. I felt the sharp edge of prankster's remorse poke me in the gut.

After a moment of horror (and gasps from the crowd), he realized that the stone must be "real" and its value would more than pay for his ruined eyeglasses. There was an announcement that he'd be visiting the jeweler first thing in the morning. After that, everyone wanted to hold, inspect, and admire the miraculous find.

I thought this "success" was a great time for my wife and I to head home. "We've had a wonderful time but it's getting late". My wife, not pleased with my childish behaviour let me have it once we were in the car. I felt guilty for about 20 minutes until I realized, who uses eyeglasses when you've got windows, stemware, and mirrors all around? A not smart person, that's who.

After that I felt pretty good.

August 16, 2004 in Games | Permalink


I fully expect to be reimbursed for my glasses, expect the bill soon.

Posted by: Joe | Oct 6, 2004 1:52:41 PM