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Daze of My Life/The Gift of Honesty

by Kenneth B. Lourie

As a former jewelerís son, you would think, hope and/or expect - especially if you were my wife, Dina - that I would have more of an appreciation (and an eye) for nice jewelry than I do. Unfortunately for her, my marriage-to-date actions would indicate that I was more likely raised by a chocolatier. Yes, I have a sweet tooth (boy, do I) and would readily admit that, over the years - engagement ring and wedding bands notwithstanding - I have probably spent more money on chocolate than I have on precious gems. I donít say this with any great pride or sense of accomplishment or indifference to the effect that jewelry can sometimes have on the recipient. Iím merely stating a fact.

As Christmas has come and practically gone - other than the post-holiday lines of customers returning items and/or buying clearance merchandise, that is - the lure of the gift of jewelry, specifically diamonds, continues and is as much a part of the holiday experience (or lack therof), as are the lines - to drive, to park, to shop, to eat and even to go the bathroom. And jewelry stores in particular hope to cash in on this seasonal mall migration, as much if not more than most retailers.

Marriage proposals and engagements rings are often timed for Christmas, as are gifts of birthstones (as pendants, brooches, pins and charms) tennis bracelets, pearl necklaces and diamond stud earrings, all of which are extremely popular (and desired). As a buyer, if you could taste the jewelry, I imagine the choice would be simple. But you canít. Jewelry, unlike chocolate, doesnít melt in your mouth, though it does require taste. Nor does it disappear over the time. It has staying power (hopefully not in your wifeís jewelry box). And however well intended, making the wrong jewelry choice or buying poor quality can have - and make - a lasting impression, and a bad one at that. Getting an A for effort might work on the baseball diamond - but it doesnít work on the non-baseball diamond, you know, the kind with fire that ďsparklesĒ and is ďbrilliantĒ and sung to be ďa girlís best friend.Ē

A related issue/consideration concerning this potential present of jewelry is the expectation/requirement that the selection be made by you, the male gift-giver, without any significant help. Gifting jewelry is not like selecting clothing or kitchenware or miscellaneous accessories for your wifeís car, bathroom or office. There, asking for help is encouraged. With respect to jewelry, however, a more personal gift, it has to be from you, personally. Itís not a rule, itís just right, because you know something about your wife or girlfriend that other people donít, and your gift should reflect that knowledge. Now thatís pressure, and exactly the reason some of us males balk at even stepping foot in a jewelry store. One wrong move and...

Who wants to spend time in the doghouse? If I put forth a good-faith effort, I feel as if I should be rewarded for that effort, even if I miss. But if I ask for assistance, itís only because Iím out of my element. Itís similar to if I were to walk into a Victoriaís Secret to buy my wife some lingerie. I may know what I like, but Iím not exactly wearing it. (Thatís the truth.) So I donít know the underwearing issues.

Sure, I realize that a gift of love - rather than a gift of cotton, silk and/or lace - should come from my heart, not the heart of the salesperson. But when I donít know what Iím talking about (or even looking at) or when Iím confused, like when Iím standing in that jewelry store or in a Victoriaís Secret, at least Iím not too male to admit it, and I hope youíre not too female to appreciate it.

Lourie is a regionally syndicated columnist who resides in Burtonsville, MD.

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