The Trouble with Unicorns IV

by Admiral Biscuit

Chapter 1: Rarity Bankrupts DeBeers

The Trouble with Unicorns IV
Rarity Bankrupts DeBeers
Admiral Biscuit

Rarity felt like she'd been put in a barrel and rolled down a hill. A week's worth of meetings at the United Nations had been such a mind-numbingly boring way to spend time she couldn't imagine how anyone would ever want to do it for a living. She actually felt a pang of sympathy for Princess Twilight. As soon as they got back to Ponyville, she was going to treat Twilight to a full day at the spa, never mind the expense.

She at least was free today, and she fully intended to spend her free time window shopping. Humans had imagined clothes and fashions she'd never dreamed of, and a new clothing line inspired by New York fashions would be just the thing to kick off the spring season back in Equestria.

Bloomingdales, Saks Fifth Avenue, Barneys, JC Penny, Lord & Taylor—so many famous fashion houses, all clustered together in downtown Manhattan.

She took her time choosing her outfit for the day, finally setting in on a simple sweater and matching scarf, accented with a pair of diamond-chip earrings. It was a chilly but sunny February day, not quite cold enough to warrant a hat or a coat with a hood, especially since she'd be going in and out of stores all day long.

The hotel's doorman offered to hail a cab for her, but Rarity shook her head. She needed some fresh air to clear her head and flush out the last vestiges of the endless stream of meetings.

All morning, she browsed. She went into Barney’s with no intention of actually buying anything, and felt a little bit guilty at the salespeople who fawned over her.

She hadn't imagined that the stores would sell little accessories and impulse items, and, even better, they would deliver them to her hotel for her.

A little touch like that might be just the thing for my boutiques in Canterlot and Manehattan, she thought. And small sales—that was something she'd considered, but never really followed through on. It seemed so bothersome to keep track of that inventory. A quick mental calculation of the volume of small items crossing the counter suggested that she would do well to reconsider: small things added up. They accumulated.

She was in the middle of examining a pair of Philip Lim hybrid lounge pants when her stomach gave off a rather unladylike grumble. Of course Barney’s didn’t have a clock; they wouldn’t want their customers to be distracted by the passage of time.

Hmm, I passed Reichenbach Hall on the way here—that looked nice.


Rarity wandered a bit after lunch, to give her meal time to settle.

She almost passed Tiffany and Company without more than a passing glance, but through the corner of her eyes she saw a middle-aged man at the counter trying to pay for a small box with a credit card. As she watched, the clerk shook his head and slid the box back across the counter, away from the customer.

A minute later, he came out of the store, head hung low.

It was none of her business, and any native New Yorker would have just walked on, but Rarity didn't.

“You look glum,” she commented. “Let me buy you a coffee next door.”

The man glanced at the building. “I appreciate it, but I’d rather not go there.”

Is there something wrong with Starbucks? “Very well, then. If you’d prefer to stay outside . . . oh, where are my manners? I’m Rarity.”


“Is there anything I can do to help you?”

He crouched down on the sidewalk to put himself on her level. “I just—my wife and I have been married 25 years, and she's done so many good things for me. I wanted to get her a pair of diamond earrings for Valentine’s Day, but my credit card was declined. . . .”

“Now darling, don't you fret. You look like a good man, and I'm sure your wife appreciates all that you do for her.”

“I suppose you're right,” he said. “After all, she’s stuck with me for this long. But it doesn't feel right to not be able to get her something that I know she wants, something that will make her happy.”


“Something that will make her feel like I feel every goddamn morning when I wake up next to the most beautiful, wonderful woman in the world.”

“A lady does love little trinkets and tokens of affection,” Rarity observed. “Things that make her feel beautiful. Perhaps . . . yes, love is the most important thing.” She lit her horn and unfastened her earrings, floating them in the air between them. “Would she like these, do you think?”

Even before he could answer, Rarity dropped them in his outstretched hand. Arthur studied them briefly, and then shook his head. “I—I couldn't possibly afford to buy these from you. They're worth a fortune.”

“Buy? I had meant for you to give them to your wife as a gift. They're just clear diamonds.”

Just diamonds? They must be worth twenty grand.”

“Impossible.” Rarity waved a hoof at him dismissively. “Mister Arthur, I insist that you take these to your wife.”

“She'll think that I stole them.”

“Tell her that you described her beauty to me, and that I insisted.”


Rarity hadn't really paid much attention to the jewelry at the clothing shops; she preferred to make her own to match her outfits. Settings could be done by Karat and Millgraine to her specifications—she wasn't very good at silversmithing.

It nagged at her mind, though, so she went into the store and got right to the point. “Just now there was a gentlest—man in here enquiring about a pair of earrings.”

“Yes, our Elsa Peretti Diamonds by the Yard. Would you like to examine them?”


He pointed through the display case at the set in question. They were considerably smaller than Rarity had expected. Well, human ears are smaller than pony ears, she thought. I hope he wasn't refusing because they would look gaudy on his wife's ears. No, he looked sincere, and anyway they weren't very large diamonds.

“How much do they cost?” It was rude to be so direct, but she just wanted to satisfy her curiosity, and then get back at looking at clothes.

“One thousand two hundred twenty five dollars.”

“For clear diamond earrings.”

“They’re .16 carat, in a platinum setting.”

“They’re awfully small for that price,” Rarity said, glancing through the display case. There was a similar set nearby that was slightly larger—nearly the size of the ones she’d given Arthur. “How about those?”

“Fifteen thousand two hundred. They’re 1.2 carat.”

“I see.” Rarity didn't see, not at all. Diamonds like that were nearly as common as dirt. Spike sometimes snacked on them. “Thank you for your time.” She turned tail and left the shop.


Her hotel room had a telephone, and she'd gotten the hang of using it quite quickly. Calls to jewelers and suppliers around the city verified that the price was not out of line, and that the primary cost of the earrings was the diamonds.

She found a book on gems, and she drank up the information, learning the local lingo so people would take her seriously.

Whenever she was on hold—which was quite frequent—she sketched out dress designs and considered her possible future in New York City.

There was no space she could afford to rent in any of the downtown areas. Even a license for a dress cart—something she'd considered building after seeing a hot dog vendor hawking his food—was prohibitively expensive.

Rarity had somewhat anticipated that, and had mentally debated selling her clothes in some other store. That came with the advantages of a lower up-front cost and an established clientele; the biggest drawbacks were a loss of creative freedom and the possibility of contractual obligations that could continue even after she went solo.

But it turned out that the diamond market was quite lucrative on Earth. A few days’ work in Equestria, and she'd easily have enough to sell to a supplier for a very good profit, even charging a far more reasonable price for diamonds than DeBeers did.


Her first batch of diamonds sold very quickly, and netted her more than enough money to pay upfront for a five year lease on a small storefront just off Fifth Avenue—close enough to attract an exclusive clientele, which was more to her liking anyways. She had no problem with Saks selling hundreds of copies of their dresses to the public; her artistry was supposed to be unique.

Her first few months in business just flew by. The store wasn't turning a profit yet, but she didn't care. Working with humans was challenging; dealing with their body proportions and kinematics and wariness around her magic were constant problems, along with their pathological fear of disrobing, which ultimately lead to inaccurate measurements and necessary adjustments to their clothing after they'd tried it on.

Even Rainbow Dash isn't this difficult to fit for a dress, Rarity thought as the final appointment of the day left sans dress. The bust needed to be taken out and the hips tucked in; the woman had undergone a crash diet and breast augmentation while Rarity was crafting her dress, and naturally had not bothered to inform her designer of those facts.

I should work on that dress right now. But she was curious to see how many of her diamonds had made their way to jewelry displays. Seeing the discount diamonds would cheer her up.


The salesman in Tiffany’s naturally had no idea where the diamonds in the pendant had come from. Why would he? But Rarity knew; her gemfinding spell could easily distinguish between native Equestrian diamonds and Earth diamonds.

The price, of course, had not diminished one bit, despite the discount diamonds. She walked back out of the shop, deep in thought.


“I am not a greedy pony, Applejack.”

“Ah never said you were. Prissy and stuck-up, Ah mighta said that a time or two.”

Rarity ignored the barb. “You remember when Flim and Flam came here with their cider-making machine. Did you ever think for a moment that you could make lots of money with such a machine?”

Applejack nodded. “Ah might’ve, fer a minute or two.”

“And you also might have thought that even if you didn't have enough bits to buy such a machine, that any of us girls would have been happy to help you.”

“Are you askin’ me for a loan? 'Cause you could just come right out and say it. Ain't no sense beatin’ around the bush.”

“No, I am not.” Rarity reached a hoof across the cafe table. “You and I, we're both business mares, but we care about quality. I won't have a thousand ponies wearing copies of the exact same dress, no matter how much profit I could make on them, any more than you would have been happy selling as much cheap cider as the market could bear.”

“'Course not!”

“Even if that could potentially make you the richest pony in Equestria.”

“Well.” Applejack shifted her hat. “Ah have to admit on the face of it, that does sound appealin’. We could live a life of luxury, and never want for nothin’ . . . but Ah wouldn't be happy. Not with all the bits in the world. Ah'd rather be with my family on the farm.”

“I've been thinking about it for a month, and I came to the same conclusion about myself.” Rarity sipped her tea. “Let me tell you about Arthur, and the diamond earrings he wanted to buy for his wife.”

When she'd finished her story, Applejack shook her head. “It don't make a lick of sense. Clear diamonds ain't worth much. Can't do nothin’ with them except trade them to dragons for forgework.”

“Some spells use them for a focus as well. Mostly foal stuff.” Rarity took another sip of tea and then set the cup aside. “Thank you for coming to tea with me. Now I have a few things I need to plan.”

“What are you gonna do?”

“Destroy a corrupt market.”


Getting clear diamonds by the bucketful wasn't terribly difficult for Rarity, but getting them by the wagonload was, unless she wanted to spend all her free time mining, and she didn't.

Luckily, not too far outside Ponyville, there was a warren of Diamond Dogs who did spend most of their day mining. Unluckily, they were none too fond of Rarity.

“Pony tricked us.”

“You foalnapped me first.”

She waited until they'd considered that, and turned it over in their minds. She had to admit that overall, she'd come away the winner after the foalnapping. Hopefully they wouldn't remember how many carts of jewels she'd gotten away with. They looked to have a new leader, and he kept greedily eyeing the bucket of gems she'd brought with her.

“We not get tricked again by whiny pony. What we get? We want gems.”

“And you shall have these, and more. I'll use a spell to show you where all the good gems are around your warrens—those are for you. All I ask for in return is all the clear diamonds that you dig up.”

“Why you want those?”

She smiled. “I have my reasons.”


The hardest part was flooding the market. There were lots of people who were very rich, and were very concerned with staying that way, and there were many ways to manipulate the supply in their favor.

Fortunately, Rarity understood this principle.

She also came to understand the stock market very well, and while nobody on the production side of things wanted there to be a glut of diamonds on the market, there were plenty of investors who were willing to sell stocks short or use put options or engage in any of the myriad other ways that one can make an immense profit on the stock market at somebody else's expense.

A third of her diamonds just disappeared due to theft before they could be sold, but that didn't bother her one bit. Ultimately, the thieves had gotten away with nothing of value—it was no different than if some miscreant had stolen the contents of her garbage can before Cherry Berry could take it. They would find no market at all for their ill-gotten goods.


“I'm so mad at you right now.”

“Whatever for, darling?”

Twilight just kept looking out the penthouse window. “You know why.”

“Perhaps I did get a little bit carried away,” Rarity admitted.

“You collapsed the diamond market.”


“You bankrupted DeBeers. Completely. And Alorosa—you bankrupted them, too. Rio Tinto lost a quarter of their value.”

“I fail to see the problem.”

“You can't just go crashing global markets like that, Rarity.”

“Well, how was I supposed to know that would happen? I just saw that clear diamonds were quite overpriced on the market, and I thought I would help out.”

Twilight shook her head. “You knew exactly what was going to happen.”

“Is it my fault that their entire business model was based upon making an artificial demand for a simple chunk of carbon?” Rarity brushed her mane back. “This is no different than Starlight convincing everypony to give up their cutie marks, and us deposing her and returning everypony’s cutie marks.”

“I don't think it's the same at all.” Twilight finally turned to face Rarity. “But I'm not entirely sure it isn't, either, so point to you.”

“And that turned out alright. Everypony learned a valuable lesson.”

Twilight sighed. “Just . . . don’t do it again. Please?”

“You have my word. Cross my heart and hope to fly. . . “

“. . . Stick a cupcake in my eye. Ow.”

“Twilight, I’ve had my fun as a diamond salespony, and it’s time to go back to fashion.” Rarity sat down on her couch. “Nopony else knows it was me, do they?”

“I don’t think so.” Twilight looked out the window. “There’d be an angry mob with torches outside if they did. Actually, I wasn’t sure it was you, not at first. But then I remembered Spike had been helping you mine a lot of dross.”

“I ought to have gone further into the badlands.”

“You should have. How’d you get all the diamonds in, anyway?”

“Bottled water. Crates and crates of it.”

Twilight raised an eyebrow. “How . . .”

“The minerals—I said that ponies needed special minerals in their diet, and that’s why it was spring water, and why we have salt licks.”

“You’ve never tried a salt lick.”

“Well, not since I was in school,” Rarity admitted.

Twilight giggled. “That was pretty clever of you. Clear diamonds would be completely invisible in water.”

“They fell for it hook, line, and sinker.”

Author's Notes:

Pre-read by AShadowOfCygnus, metallusionismagic, and MSPiper!

Story notes HERE

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