Mr. HELSBY: The other interesting feature of the Russian diamond production was that there was an extraordinarily large proportion of medium-sized stones in the quarter- to half-carat size. De Beers then came up with perhaps one of the great new product inventions in jewelry history, the "eternity ring," a ring that was designed to use up this excessive production of low-size stones. And it is perhaps amusing to think that, at the height of the cold war, the eternity ring that was being so successfully marketed in America was filled with stones from Siberia. NARRATOR: As the Soviet Union became an important source of small stones, the problem for the diamond industry became finding cutters willing to work for low enough wages to make these stones profitable. India soon developed into the world's greatest cutting center. There are 750,000 cutters in workshops around Surat, perhaps 100,000 of them children under 13. They place 58 exact cuts on a diamond less than half a carat, smaller than a broken pencil lead. Many children work a 12-hour day, six days a week. They earn 4 cents a stone. DALE BEARMAN, Jewelry Manufacturer: The Indian diamonds have made it possible to make a low-priced jewelry that looks like a lot. It's called "more flash for less cash." This is the expression that's used in the industry, and this seems to be the trend. We perceive popular retail price points to top out at about $500 -- this is what most of our customers are demanding now -- and starting as low as $75, $80. We just got in some new samples today. These are examples. Here's a ring that sells for $70. There is $2 worth of diamond in this ring. But the fact that we can market it as an article with a genuine diamond makes it more salable. Here's another ring. This is a $90 ring. There's a $1 diamond in here. It's a white finish that makes it appear like diamonds. There's only one diamond in the center.
A transcript from Frontline on the De Beers diamond cartel. This aired over ten years ago, but it's still relevant, I think. I found it fascinating. I've read about the diamond cartel before, but this had more history and info than I'd seen before. (Warning: pretty long.)