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The Question: Are Women Losing Out On ‘Precious Carats?’

Sometimes the public relations e-mails I get really raise my hackles, particularly when the companies advertising therein are trying to convince me (and thereby you) that their product or service is necessary to matrimonial or marital happiness. For example, I recently received an e-mail with this subject line: Is the recession costing women carats? Here is the FiLife poll doing the asking, where the actual question is “How many weeks’ salary is appropriate to spend on an engagement ring?”:


The more traditional seven to nine weeks is winning out over three to five weeks, but just barely. Personally, I think the appropriate number of weeks’ salary is however many weeks the giver can afford and is comfortable with. For some, that might be half a weeks’ salary. For others, it might be ninety-nine weeks’ salary. Twistie has her silver frog. I have two engagement rings, both of which sport semi-precious stones and were purchased via eBay. Most of my momfriends have these ginormous diamond engagement rings that kind of make my eyes glaze over. Different strokes for different folks, right?

But I guess not, since us ladies are apparently losing out on precious carats now that there’s a recession on. Poll comments like “I want a real ring to go along with my real marriage…If you are cheap don’t take champange (sic) to the beer store.” appear to confirm it. You know us women, all thinking math is hard and drooling slack-jawed over shiny bits of carbon. Seriously though, diamonds are definitely pretty, but precious carats? Precious carats? Goodness forbid we have to go through life without enough carats in our engagement rings!

My only consolation is that if the recession gets bad enough, we’ll all be too busy worrying about acquiring, ahem, precious carrots to give a thought to precious carats.

Before You Ask “Will You?” Ask “Are You Choking?”

engagement rings in food

Movies make it seem so romantic… the engagement ring sitting at the bottom of a sparkling flute of champagne. The engagement ring suspended in a dish of mousse. The engagement ring tucked into a crisp green salad. So what’s the problem? Unless you or your intended have fingers the size of tuba valves, most of the nibbles we take are larger than an engagement ring, making them difficult to locate in many dishes and, as Gourmet reminds us, a choking hazard.

When Carlos Lopes, former managing director at the Hotel Bel-Air, in Los Angeles, set out to propose to his first wife, he planned the evening to perfection. He selected a fine restaurant. He hatched an elaborate plan. He schemed with the maître d’. And, at the desired moment, the waiter brought Lopes’s girlfriend a crème brûlée into which the pastry chef had discreetly tucked Lopes’s life savings, in the form of a diamond ring. “Only I was so naïve,” he remembers today, “that I didn’t realize you ate crème brûlée with a large spoon and not a small one.”

Smash went the crust. In went the spoon. And before Lopes could say, “Um, I have something to ask you,” his brilliant-cut one-carat surprise went sliding down his intended’s throat.

Oopsie! I’ve always wondered who first came up with the idea of putting an engagement ring into food. If you adhere to the two months salary rule, that could very well be one expensive piece of bling, and the last thing most brides-to-be want to do is have to thoroughly clean their new jewelry before putting it on. Heck, my rings (engagement and otherwise) get dirty enough from sporadic everyday wear. I can’t imagine having to use an old toothbrush to scrub crème brûlée of all things out of the tines of a six-prong setting.

Or is that just me? What do you think — are engagement rings hidden in food the height of romance or the height of fail?

The sweetest of all rings?

When people around me are talking about engagement rings, I always like to say that I wouldn’t have cared if The Beard had gotten me a Ring Pop. Being that he didn’t propose with a ring, it wouldn’t have made much difference, and I (unlike a lot of people, I’m sure) would have thought it was cute. Very Beard-ish, in fact.

But if you’re going to go the Ring Pop route, you may want to think about springing for the upgrade. What’s one step up from a supermarket candy jewel? A Candy-Glam ring by Escriba, of course!

Looks good enough to eat, amirite?
Which is fine, because you can actually eat them

Christian Escriba’s candy rings are the stuff of a sugar addict’s fantasies. Okay, so maybe they wouldn’t make the best tokens of love–unless, of course, your SO has a sense of humor like my own–but they could make fun gifts for a bridesmaid or flower girl, or even a cool wedding favor. Much better, in my opinion, than the giant novelty rings you occasionally come across.

Pre-owned, pre-worn, pre-loved, used and abused rings for sale

What’s sadder than all of the unloved, unworn wedding gowns for sale out there? I’d say it’s the rings (diamond and otherwise) that get caught in the middle when a wedding is called off or two people decide that they just didn’t like each other as much as they originally thought.

Many a jilted lover has wondered what to do with a leftover ring, which is why I was entirely unsurprised when I stumbled upon I Do…Now I Don’t, an auction site created to match those “who are looking to sell engagement rings they no longer need or want with buyers who are in the market for a great deal.” It also has breaking-up how tos and breakup survival tips.

What kind of baggage have we got here then?

Personally I hope that there is an article somewhere on the site that reminds anyone buying a secondhand engagement ring that they might to keep the bauble’s origins quiet. Giving your honey your beloved grandmother’s engagement ring is a beautifully romantic gesture that’s sure to warm most hearts. Giving your honey a diamond solitaire that played a supporting role in the tale of a Lothario and a devastated lady? Not recommended.

In fact, many people believe that it’s bad luck to give or wear an engagement ring that was involved in a failed relationship. The same goes for wedding bands — a secondhand band will be regarded as quite unlucky by some.

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MftB readers ROCK

Reader comments have been unbelievably fabulous lately, so I thought I’d share a handful here in case there are actually people out there who haven’t given in to the impulse to explore popular opinion.

Alex said:
If you want to donate to charity, that’s wonderful and generous of you. Please don’t make the decision for me. It is in no way shape or form a favor or gift for me. Don’t get me wrong, I think donating to a charity you believe in is great and I think people have their hearts in the right place…I’m just not sure why exactly it has to be announced to me, you know?

Innkeeper Jason said:
Sometimes these doubts are seeds that have been planted by other people and sometimes it is just nerves and sometimes perhaps you are marrying the wrong person. For those of you who have called it off, I applaud you for the courage it must have taken.

Toby Wollin said:
Actually, my favorite periods are up through about the mid-60s: you could still get a dress with a decent neckline, sleeves, and interesting skirts and waists. Once you get into the 70s it was Gunnysack Hell, and then straight down the road to the Strapless Follies. If I had to make myself a bridal gown today, I’d go straight to the vintage pattern folks and look there.

C* said:
If any of you have purchased (or been given) any diamond jewlery between Jan. 1, 1994 and March 31, 2006 check out Diamondsclassaction.com and file a claim to get a refund from the lawsuit against DeBeers. Apparently they had an illegal monopoly on diamond sales during those years (is that really surprising at all?).

Space is the place…to look for wedding bands?

From the comments on my recent post, it’s pretty clear that there are still those old fashioned gals who crave an out of this world rock with a price tag that makes their men feel a little uncomfortable. Ask ye shall receive, ladies…but be ready to expect the unexpected. I do indeed have some rings for you.

Out of this world? Check. A tad pricey? Check.

Born in space!Prettied up right here on earth

See that gray stuff? It’s straight up meteorite, i.e. those big old hunks of minerals that originate in outer space and survive a fall to earth. I think these are utterly gorgeous.

Straight to your finger from MARSAsk him for the moon, eh?

The ring on the left is a genuine piece of Mars inlaid in 18k gold. The chunk of the red planet was cut from a Mars rock, found in the desert and officially cataloged under the name Dhofar 019. The ring on the right contains a certified piece of the moon inlaid in 18k gold. The moon bit was cut from a larger moon rock cataloged as Dhofar461, which was classified by researchers A. Rubin and Paul Warren from UCLA. They do look kind of cheap (in terms of aesthetics, not the price tag), but might be just the thing for the astronomy buff in your life.

Okay, so it’s not the big bling…but I think there is something cool about the idea of exchanging rings made of stuff that has been outside Earth’s atmosphere in the not so distant past.

The bling’s the thing…or is it?

Back in the day — by which I mean a period beginning shortly after WWII and ending sometime around the year 2000 when the United Nations General Assembly finally recognized the whole “blood diamond” thing — the recipe for getting engaged read, “Take one diamond valued at roughly two month’s salary plus one knee, and combine. Issue proposal thusly for maximum effect.” Screw you very much, De Beers.

You know, some gal out there would love this

I tend to forget about the whole business of diamonds for a couple of reasons. One, I don’t subscribe to cable or have an antenna, so my exposure to those nerve-gratingly annoying De Beers commercials is kept at a bare minimum. Two, most of my engaged and married peeps received something other than diamonds from their sweeties. And three, as much as I adore all that sparkles, I subscribe to the rather old fashioned notion that big bling looks best on ladies over the age of 50. Perhaps that should even be 60 or 70, considering that 40 is apparently the new 20, which would naturally make 50 the new 30 and so on.

So why am I suddenly concerned with mineralogical numerology? I read something yesterday in the online journal of a friend of a friend.

What is a diamond? It’s a pretty stone, but a really expensive one, and one that only means “I love you” because people think its absence means “I don’t”. With diamonds as the social norm in many countries, marriage is like a game of chicken – neither partner can broach the subject of not getting a diamond ring, because to do so would sound like less than total commitment.

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