Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Lab-grown diamonds for Val Day

Lucy was about 6 when we found a pingpong ball-sized chunk of coal during a stroll along the train tracks.

“Here,” I said, “now if you take this and squeeze it really, really hard for a long, long time you can make a diamond.”

She squeezed so hard I feared she was going to make a turd.

I mention this because a story in today’s Washington Post reveals how secretive engineers in suburban DC have mastered a way to create authentic, lab-grown diamonds in just eight jiffy weeks.

The lab-grown diamonds can cost 40 percent less than the natural kind. It’s likely the prices of all diamonds will continue to spiral even more as the technology spreads.

This is good for two reasons.

One, the mining of real diamonds has a depraved history. Ruthless diamond companies have used child labor, untenable extraction methods, and “blood diamonds” have been used to finance wars.

The second and more selfish reason is, man, it’s likely the lab grown diamond trend will drastically deflate the cost of gems and I’ll one day be able to afford a Volkswagen-sized diamond that’ll show the world how much I love my wife.

I suspect I’m like a lot of husbands — wives, too — who especially on this day wish we had a social eloquence to let the world know how grateful we are to have the one we’re with.

So much of it seems so phony. It’s contradictory, but being heartfelt on a day symbolized by hearts ain’t all that easy.

Facebook flattery coming from someone so innately sarcastic as me would feel fraudulent in ways a humongous lab-grown diamond would not.

Ironically, big, gaudy diamonds somehow seem subtle.

I confess to feeling crass envy whenever I see wives of friends weighed down with lavish jewelry.

I wonder where I went wrong that I’m in no position to buy her nice things and, inevitably, I wonder if it was Val, not me, is the one who went wrong.

I remember the nervous excitement I felt taking my meager savings and driving to the Clark Building in Pittsburgh to buy her a humble engagement ring. I was working for peasant wages at the newspaper then and figured I’d one day be able to trade it in for something more dazzling.

Little did either of us realize then, but 20 years later I’d be in a position where peasant wages were aspirational.

She eschews materialism and I can’t afford to buy her nice stuff so I guess in that way at least we’re the perfect couple.

I wish I was the perfect husband, the perfect father … a white Barack Obama who, incidentally, hasn’t done a solid day’s work since January 20th either.

Maybe one day I’ll have the means to shower my wife with the things she deserves 

Having said that, I realize it’s going to take a lot of lab work for me to become that kind of husband.

More than I have time for today.

If you’re a husband feeling today like I do, sad that you can’t splurge on an eye-popping diamond, do your best and swear you’re trying to do better.

And take heart.

You can always, no matter how meager your means, offer a tender kiss, a gentle hug.

Dazzling things sometimes result when you start with a little squeeze.

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