A long-established principle with its roots in Greek philosophy, paradox of value was popularized by Scottish economist Adam Smith (1723-1790). It states that price is determined by scarcity rather than usefulness.
Water is an essential of life, but because of its abundance has a relatively low price. Diamonds, on the other hand, have little use in comparison with water, but because of their relative scarcity command high prices.
A Smith, An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations (London, 1776)