Clarity, Cut, and Culture

Clarity, Cut, and Culture

The Many Meanings of Diamonds

by Susan Falls

Published by: NYU Press

224 pages, 6.00 x 9.00 in

  • Paperback
  • ISBN: 9781479879908
  • Published: June 2014

$25.00

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  • Hardcover
  • ISBN: 9781479810666
  • Published: June 2014

$89.00

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Images of diamonds appear everywhere in American
culture. And everyone who has a diamond has a story to tell about it. Our
stories about diamonds not only reveal what we do with these tiny
stones, but also suggest how we create value, meaning, and identity through our
interactions with material culture in general.

Things become meaningful through our interactions with them, but how do
people go about making meaning? What can we learn from an ethnography about the
production of identity, creation of kinship, and use of diamonds
in understanding selves and social relationships? By what means do
people positioned within a globalized political-economy and a compelling
universe of advertising interact locally with these tiny polished
rocks?

This book draws on 12 months of fieldwork with diamond consumers in
New York City as well as an analysis of the iconic De Beers campaign
that promised romance, status, and glamour to anyone who bought a
diamond to show that this thematic pool is just one resource among
many that diamond owners draw upon to engage with their own
stones. The volume highlights the important roles that memory,
context, and circumstance also play in shaping how people interpret and then
use objects in making personal worlds. It shows that besides
operating as subjects in an ad-burdened universe, consumers are
highly creative, idiosyncratic, and theatrical agents.

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