I am intrigued by how the present economic calamity is playing out in various markets. In oil, for example. And in grains. Troubles in both. And both are indispensable for life itself.

But diamonds? They are a girl's best friend, right? Well, not any longer. Or so it seems.

Many readers of The Spine have learned a lot from Edward Jay Epstein about the Madoff sub-chapter in the financial collapse. In this private memo to friends, Epstein explores (and reveals) the disaster confronting the diamond industry. I have no sympathy for the carbon gem plutocrats. You've seen some consequences of their business in Ed Zwick's searing film, Blood Diamond. But diamonds are what puts bread on the tables of millions of Africans. They were screwed when the business was prosperous. And they'll be screwed when the business goes belly-up. One reality I discovered in South Africa last week was that tens of thousands of diamond miners are now unemployed, adding to the miseries of this gorgeous country.