Saturday, 18 December 2010

A Girl’s best friend.

We are snowed in. Nowhere to go, nothing to do...but cook. I have spent the whole day today making some Georgian? (Or is it Azeri? Might be Russian) salads, and marinated a humongous chicken for my mother’s signature plov.

In theory, two couples are coming for lunch with their kids tomorrow. But, looking outside, I have some serious doubts. 

You see, as soon as we see any snow in the UK, we freak out, forget how to drive and hide indoors.  Trains get very scared, too and hide in depots. Shops run out of milk and bread and basically, nothing functions. Not such a bad thing, to be honest, if it happens on the days when I am supposed to be driving into work. I would not mind that at all. But, of course, such is my luck that it had to happen on a weekend, getting in the way of my social arrangements. Oh, well. I might just have to eat it all by myself.

But that is not what I wanted to talk about today. 

I wanted to talk about diamonds.  Not a very sensitive topic for those of us who cannot expect any this Christmas. Or for those of us who have never been given any at all. 

Because, on a mummies night out earlier this week, I have realized that, however hard we might pretend that they don’t do anything for us, we all secretly love diamonds. 

In my Baku days, when I was young and single and actually did not care about diamonds,  I had a very pretty and very openly materialistic friend. She was so brutally honest about her love for expensive jewellery that some of her admirers thought she was just kidding. But of course, those admirers never became her boyfriends. And the ones who made it to the boyfriend stage, had to deal with some very unusual behaviour. 

Once, possibly on the night of her birthday, I witnessed my friend run to her bedroom to retrieve a magnifying glass to analyze the quality of the diamond ring her then boyfriend presented her with. 

Can you believe she is scrutinizing it like that in front of me?’ He exclaimed.

And she was laughing and kissing him’ But of course! I need to know just how much you really love me!

Of course, such passion for diamonds is unusually extravagant. But what about some other types of us, girls? The types who you would never imagine even thinking about anything that sparkles?

That night, on a mummies’ night out, I ended up talking to a mother whom I barely knew, but already formed an opinion about.  Always dressed very modestly, without any make up or high heels, she suited my Environmentalist category beautifully. Someone who is a bit of a hippy; perhaps spiritual, does not eat meat, and whose interests would never- ever! -involve any expensive jewellery.   

As we sat there, discussing some aspects of Christmas, she suddenly reached out to touch my hand. She wanted to have a closer look at my eternity ring. She said it was catching the light beautifully. ‘We live in a place where you can really do some serious diamond spotting, don’t we?’she added thoughtfully. I explained that the ring was a baby/Christmas present years ago and she laughed, showing me her hands.  She said that she had no idea what it would take for her husband to get her a diamond ring.   

And I was shocked. 

If you asked me to point out one woman in our entire village who would not care about material things, I would choose her. And yet, there was so much disappointment in her voice! 

I told her a story about this Azeri girl I knew, who had got engaged in Scotland, and came back to Baku sporting the smallest diamond I had ever seen in my live.

‘I chose it myself.’ she told us proudly. ‘He took me to a shop and I insisted I wanted this one’.

'It is not about how big this stone is', she added. 'To me, it represents a piece of my fiancé’s heart!'

'Hmm...' whispered my materialistic friend. 'That is quite a teeny piece of his heart he gave her!'

The hippy mummy laughed. 'Why did she choose such a small ring then?'  She asked.

Well, I told her.. Isn’t it obvious? We all want to show just how little these things matter to us. Just how non-materialistic and noble we are. So imagine the poor man's shock when, some years after, his wife expects and wants him to buy her some expensive gifts. Maybe she does not even act or look like someone who would want a diamond ring. Maybe, she looks like a vegetarian environmentalist type. And yet, deep inside, she would love to be given something  special. Because, trust me. Diamonds are a girl’s best friend.


  1. I may be from another planet. I don't really care about diamonds at all. I honestly prefer a very nice trip as a present. Or better, more than just one trip.

  2. @Gabriela: It might be something that happens when you are married and surrounded by other wives who sport nice rings. No idea. But it clearly affects more of us than I thought. I never cared about diamonds when I was young and single either. I had other things on my mind. Maybe it comes with age. Maybe something else? No idea.

  3. First of all let me disagree about vegetarians! :))) It has nothing to do with love to diamonds. Second - sometimes it is just question of price. Do you want to get a "just" diamond from your husband/boyfriend? Is that the goal? Because real rocks are really expensive! Especially good size. I know the story of somebody who was engaged. She knew for sure price of her ring - $5000. When they broke up - she decided to get some money for the ring. Nobody gave her more than $500. And that is the real price for most of it. Unless your husband can afford one for $50 000. Can he?

  4. @Victoria: Sadly, no. Not the 50k one!:) I was only saying most of us like diamonds. There are plenty of nice things a girl can have for a lot less than 50 grand though.

  5. Not all people are the same. I went into the other room and asked Wife why she shows no interest in buying jewelry; when we get more money she wants to spend it on getting rabbits and a nice big garden. "You have a diamond ring I got you when we married; why don't you ever wear it?" I accused. "Don't you think jewelry would make you look nice?"

    Her response was to look at me as though I had invoked sorcery. She pointed to a set of glass wind chimes we have hanging in the room and said she would just as soon look at that as a diamond. Wife is too conservative to pass for an environmentalist or hippy chick, and she consumes far too much cow, pork, chicken, and shrimp to pass for vegetarian, but a diamond lover she is definitely not.

    On the basis of things you've said about Azerbaijan, it's a very "masculine" culture, in the sense described by Geert Hofstede. In such cultures...

    * People work long hours
    * People know the engine power of their car
    * Husbands buy cars without input from the wife
    * Wives do the food shopping
    * Nobody wants homosexuals as neighbors
    * Nobody makes their own clothes
    * People want expensive watches, and
    * People buy expensive jewelry

    Try this: Find a lady from the Scandinavia or the Netherlands. Talk to her about diamonds, and see if at some point she doesn't give you the same look I got from my wife!

  6. @Mark: I guess, what we should both take from this is that we should not generalize. I never wanted diamonds when I lived in Baku, neither did I ever want a nicer car or a bigger house. whether my desire for nice things is an influence of the British middle-class life, or my own age and cultural background is a tricky question. I definitely would say diamonds matter just as much, if not more, down here in the UK than back in Baku.
    On the other hand, I understand the size of diamond is more important in the States than here? so I always thought.

  7. In Azerbaijan you wear diamonds when you go to social gatherings like weddings, it is a norm if not a must! Back home if a man has to choose between an Ipad for himslef or a diomond ring for his wife, who does not have any jewelry so far, he will definately choose the latter and I think it is a very honorable thing for many reasons.

    When I moved to Europe I have safely deposited my jewelry at the bank as I do not usually go to many extravagant events here. Only kept very delicate pieces that are ok for everyday.

    Since then I have become a mum and diomonds do not fit with school run, my child's swimming lessons, cycling, skiing and other stuff that are part of my life now.

    Having said that I have come to realize that most people would gladly wear them to a supermarket trip if they only had them, even in the middle of a very, very European country and to my dismay some do. The same applies to furs!

    It has nothing to do with culture, more with human nature I would say.

  8. "Find a lady from the Scandinavia or the Netherlands. Talk to her about diamonds, and see if at some point she doesn't give you the same look I got from my wife!"

    Sorry, but most of them do not own a lipstick either.