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They’ve won hearts, cost lives, and captured imaginations throughout history as the most coveted of prizes. Long associated with female splendour, no ornament could be considered more desirable, and when Marilyn Monroe sang Diamonds Are a Girl’s best friend in 1949 she had centuries of evidence to back her up.

Public attitudes towards diamonds – and the parading thereof – have been a little different across the pond however. Judging from the chatter in the Cork Examiner’s 1896 Women’s Weekly Gossip column, available to peruse in findmypast’s newspaper collection, nineteenth century Irish girls were advised to proceed with caution when flashing their beloved jewels. And at one point, if a woman of “no particular rank or station wore diamond rings, it might safely be concluded that she was an American”!

Nevertheless, while Irish ladies might initially have been reticent to embrace such a gaudy declaration of wealth, it wasn’t long before they too were seduced by the gem’s charms. The article continues with some tips for those lucky enough to have “persuaded” their husband that diamonds might be a good investment…

Cork Examiner - Monday 17 August 1896

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