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Diamond Companies Can Take Their ‘Push Presents’ And Shove ‘Em

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Our own Shawna Cohen wrote the best defense of ‘push presents’ I’ve seen. Here’s how she put it:

Look, having a baby is a blessing. It is truly a gift. And if a couple can’t see that, well, there has to be something wrong with them. But a bit of bling added to the equation never hurt anybody.

But I still feel kind of icky about the whole enterprise. The Associated Press has a lengthy article about it that helped me figure out why I hate it so much. And it isn’t because the article is critical of the practice. Far from it.

It’s just quote after quote after quote from people loving the idea of push presents. The only person to be critical of it couldn’t even condemn the practice, saying that in the end it’s a “whatever floats your boat” situation.

The article begins by favorably citing the push presents received by Rachel Zoe, Mariah Carey, and — I am not making this up — a “Real Housewife of Orange County.” Generally speaking, are these women who strike you as people you want to emulate? And if so, hunh?

Then we learn about a pre-law student, women’s right advocate, doula and former rock chick in a band who wrote:

“As I sit here in my hugely pregnant state, suffering from heartburn, gas, leg pain, hip pain, insomnia, fatigue, irritability, anxiety, heat flashes, gastric upset, swelling, and everything else that comes with having an entirely formed human being kicking around in my womb, who will soon demand on coming OUT of my womb through a relatively small orifice in a not-at-all-pleasant feeling manner, I cannot help but think Seriously?!?! Seriously. A freaking diamond is the LEAST he can do.”

And that icky feeling returns. A diamond? I do have a precious stone in my engagement ring and I love it. So I’m not some extremist here. But for some reason the “diamond” thing reminds me of that Edward Jay Epstein book “The Rise and Fall of the Diamond” or his earlier article for the AtlanticHave You Ever Tried to Sell a Diamond?.”

He shows how De Beers experienced a drop in diamond sales in the previous century and went to an advertising firm for help. This was back when advertising firms were new. The firm convinced Hollywood starlets to wear diamond rings and encouraged fashion designers to promote a trend of diamond rings as engagement rings. It worked. Diamond sales skyrocketed. A copywriter came up with the slogan “A Diamond is Forever” and it pretty much sealed the deal. By the 1960s, 80 percent of women had diamond engagement rings and it became almost a requirement of betrothal. Then the diamond industry suggested that the “customary” cost for an engagement ring be two months’ salary.

Good work, ad agencies!

Now read the rest of the AP article and you’ll see what bothered me. I can’t help but notice that this “push present” campaign is driven entirely by retailers. And in the same fashion. Hollywood starlets are leading the way. Fashion writers are pushing the trend. Voila, we’ve been had!

Read this part of the article:

The idea wasn’t lost on jewelers. The retailer Mayors took on the tradition in a 2005 ad campaign for diamond studs: “She delivered your first born, now give her twins.” Fortunoff thought up a push present registry in 2007. That was the year BabyCenter.com surveyed 30,000 women and found 38 percent of new moms got a push present — and 55 percent of the still-pregnant wanted one.

In fact, it’s hard to find a naysayer.

Hard to find a naysayer? It would be easy to find naysayers among my friends. But you won’t find them in this article, which reads like a press release from De Beers itself.

Here’s the deal. Enduring pregnancy and giving birth is incredibly difficult. And when we get through the process, we do need to know how valuable we are to the men whose genetic material we just carried and delivered. That’s true. But the suggestion that this is best attained, much less only attained, via push presents is nothing more than jeweler-driven drivel. Commercialism will not make you feel loved! Having a husband who loves you — and shows that in ideally non-pecuniary ways — is what our society should be encouraging. Not jewelry or Bentleys or whatever.

Titus Maccius Plautus said, “I would rather be adorned by beauty of character than jewels. Jewels are the gift of fortune, while character comes from within.”

At the very least it would be nice if these gifts came from the heart and not because of some tricky marketing campaign that the Associated Press bought into.