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Article by Senior Published in Financial History Magazine

An article by senior Sara Kohles investigating the origins of matrimonial diamond rings and the diamond industry's evolving response to changing social trends and economic pressures appears in the winter 2013 issue of Financial History, the magazine of the Museum of Finance.

"De Beers managed to grow the value of the U.S. diamond industry from $23 million in 1939 to $2 billion in 1980. Yet, De Beers' advertising costs were modest ... marketing was only part of a much more complex social picture. Economic growth provided the increased purchasing power but ultimately social conditions, keenly tracked and exploited by De Beers and its advertising agencies, induced Americans to funnel some of their higher incomes into diamonds. ... As the sanctity of marriage evolved, so did the diamond industry. ... A new style of diamond rings called eternity rings was promoted to married women as a way to rekindle romance. Eternity rings became especially popular in the 1980s after the divorce rate had skyrocketed to about 50 percent. ... Today, singles are entering into marriage at ever-older ages because they want to first establish careers and financial stability. ... Promise rings, a promise to get engaged in the future, are becoming a popular option among today's couples. Just as engagement rings act as a bond to get married, promise rings offer a type of signal proving commitment to a relationship," Kohles, a 2012 Thomas Willing Institute Scholar, writes.

Read the complete article, "Diamond Rings: Capitalizing on Social Trends," here


Call for Proposals: Summer Research Fellowships

The Thomas Willing Institute will award two student summer research and writing fellowships of $2,500 each in Summer 2013.

This year's topics will include government mortgage banks, South Dakota economic development, Native American-owned and operated financial institutions, and the financing of new forms of slavery (like debt peonage, sex trafficking, and other forms of forced labor). The project should result in publication in Financial History, the magazine of the Museum of American Finance, or another suitable venue such as the Social Science Research Network.

The deadline for proposals will be Friday, March 15, 2013. Decisions will be made and announced by Friday, March 29. Students interested in the fellowship should apply by contacting Dr. Robert Wright, Nef Family Chair of Political Economy and director of the Thomas Willing Institute, with their resume or c.v. by Friday, March 15.