The social construction of jewelry is a remarkable, concrete example of virtuality or effacement, which perhaps explains why no critical theorist ever tried (AFAIK) to come to grips with it. Jewelry’s ancient role as a store of easily concealable, relatively liquid wealth has been completely erased, overwritten by its role as a signifier of wealth which is nearly valueless as wealth, difficult to resell at even a fraction of its original price.
An essential part of this murder of the real by the virtual has been the passivity, or complicity, of the consumer, who enters into a sort of negative knowledge: willingly absorbing an education on the subject of precious stones–particularly diamonds–that is deliberately and perniciously incorrect. Learning enough to even know that jewelry made with interesting but cheap synthetic stones is an option would require breaking this glamour (in both senses). Some people want lab-grown diamonds, but these people are ‘no one’ in the context of the Spectacle.