A mangagement gift is a reciprocal gift from a woman to a man given after a man proposes and the couple are engaged.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Blue Nile

Last weekend in the New York Times, there was a very interesting article about the company Blue Nile (NILE), which is an online diamond and jewelry retailer. From Blue Nile’s perspective the article is very favorable, as evident in the title "When Buying a Diamond Start With A Mouse” and probably deservedly so given the advantages for the consumer. Although there are now many websites available that provide information to help evaluate a diamond, Blue Nile (www.bluenile.com) does an exceptional job by providing the essential information – in a clear and concise manner – needed when researching a diamond engagement ring (www.bluenile.com/engagement_guide.asp) purchase, including a description of the infamous 4 Cs of diamond quality -- cut, color, clarity, and carat weight. (Incidentally, the idea for starting Blue Nile apparently came about because of a dearth of available information regarding “how to” buy an engagement ring. In search of a “Consumer Reports-like site” in 1998, Blue Nile’s founder, Mr. Vadon, ventured online, “where he discovered a basic tutorial written by Mr. Williams. There he learned enough to consider tradeoffs between size, shape and his tolerance for imperfections”. Mr. Vadon then bought a diamond from Mr. Williams’ site and later bought the business. This led to the birth of Blue Nile.)

Although I'm not advocating internet shopping over a traditional jeweler makes sense for everyone, it certainly makes sense to compare prices – more information is almost always better – since Blue Nile should be able to provide a competitive price given its scale and limited overhead costs. According the January 7th 2007 article, Blue Nile "operates no stores, only an office in downtown Seattle and a modest-size warehouse on the outskirts of town, so overhead eats up just 13 percent of its revenues, compared with 30 to 40 percent at a traditional Main Street retailer. That allows Blue Nile to sell its diamonds at roughly 20 percent over cost and still make money, Mr. Vadon said and analysts confirmed. By comparison, the typical jewelry store sold its rings for 48.7 percent above cost in 2005, though that is down from 51.6 percent in 2002, an annual survey by Jewelers of America found."

While there is always something to be said for dealing with a local jeweler, in a world where diamonds are treated as a commodity that is weighed, measured and certified (we'll leave the discussion of certification for another day) Blue Nile provides an appealing alternative, especially considering it offers "Free FedEx® & 30-day returns on all engagement rings".

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Man-gagement Gifts

There have been a couple of recent media references to the idea of a mangagement gift, including the Boston Metro and Modern Bride. However, I'm not entirely sure if either actually read this blog, since the idea of a mangagement gift has always been about inequity not inequality. Certainly, we're not arguing for equality on all levels of a relationship, and that's true of the mangagment gift as well. I don't think anyone really wants a completely equal relationship. Can you imagine splitting the bill for every dinner out down to the penny or tallying the number of visits to each other's apartment making sure to alternate every weekend? The whole point is really trying to foster an environment where a couple provide each other with respect, love, and gratitude. Right now, as Ms. Patalano points out in the Metro, "Engagement. You [the woman] get the ring. And except for a lifetime of happiness with you, your fiance gets, well, nothing." Forgive me Ms. Patalano, but you're missing the point. Both the man and woman deserve a lifetime of happiness. Men are not asking to keep the happiness to themselves and not share. So why should, in a society where men and women are both able to work and be independent, a man receive nothing? A mangagement gift certainly seems to provide an answer by giving the bride-to-be a forum and opportunity to express her excitement as well.

I did, however, appreciate how the Metro articulated that a mangagement gift -- just like an engagement ring -- can vary in price. The suggestions of cufflinks and a money clip were spot on. It of course also mentioned my personal favorite, a watch, which is beneficial from the gift giver (For Women) and the bearer (For Men).

For a more complete description and explanation of a mangagement gift, please check out the following: the concept (What is it?), the reason behind the idea (Why?), and how we got here (History).

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Valentine's Day & Martha Stewart

Now I'm not going to rant and rave about either Valentine's Day or Martha Stewart, despite today's title. I could go off about Valentine's Day being even less equitable than an engagement, but I won't. I hope that I'm not coming off as too cynical here because that's not me. I don't mind Valentine's Day... it's just the pressure building up where everyone has to do something special on one day. Shouldn't we want to do that for whoever we care about throughout the year? I personally like surprising my valentine during the year with nice dinners and nights out and prefer to get her a simple bouquet for Valentine's Day.

Back to the topic at hand! What I've been meaning to write about is Martha Stewart's commentary in one of her magazines about gifts for grooms. While I can't say everyday I think that she has a great idea, she definitely has some good ideas and recently I saw a great one. A recent Martha Stewart magazine suggested that, "[a] watch is a timeless present for a bride to give her groom and one he can wear on the actual wedding day and long after. Whatever his style -- trendy, classic, or even sporty -- and no matter your budget... there are many elegant options to choose from." (p. 168 Martha's Winter 2006 Wedding Magazine... hold the comments on why I'm reading this, but let's call it research)

Call me crazy, but that sounds like a very good idea from Martha. Wouldn't it make even more sense if this were given as to the man for an engagement gift? We could call it a mangagement watch. I must admit that the ability to wear this during the wedding hadn't crossed my mind.

All the best on this Valentine's Day. Here's hoping that if Martha Stewart is catching on then the rest of the world might not be far behind, given her clout.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Indian Reservations & Wedlock

After a night out, some friends and I were trying to figure out how Indian Reservatioins are seemingly exempt from state laws and, separately, the meaning of the term wedlock from "out of wedlock". An obvious excursion into etymological and historical research ensued. Let's address the more irrelevant, although possibly more interesting, first.

Indian or Native American Reservations are held in trust by the federal government for the tribes, so state laws do not always extend to their reservation lands. This has not always been the case, as in the War of 1812 some Indian tribes alligned themselves with the British. In 1832 Supreme Court Justice Marshall declared Indian tribes "domestic dependent nations." Despite this ruling it wasn't until 1940s when this view purveiled. Thus, Congress has placed itself in control of Indian sovereignty whether tribes agree or not, although the disasters that resulted from the termination policy of tribes soveignty in the 1970s have made the federal government less likely to attempt a similar experiment in the near future. This is a lot more interesting information about Indians' sovereignty in the U.S. (See www.mpm.edu/wirp/ICW-07.html.)

Now, we've all heard the saying "she had a child out of wedlock." The word wedlock is defined quite simply in the dictionary as "the state of being married." To many people this seems to make sense, as being married may feel like a lock (e.g. ball and chain). This mistaken meaning has been carried on by a Lord Byron, who is attributed with having said "Wedlock and padlock mean the same thing." Although at first glance it may appear that wedlock does actually mean, locked into being wed. As the history of the word is examined, however, it becomes evident that this play on words rests on the mistaken notion that "lock" in both words comes from the same background. "Lock," a device for providing restraint, comes from the Old English, loc. The "lock" in wedlock actually is a derivative of the Old English lak, meaning a gift or activity. The Old English weddian is a pledge, so weddian + lak, wedlak, signifies a gift given at the time of pledge giving, thus sealing the engagement, much the way that the engagement ring does today. (See http://www.suite101.com/article.cfm/history_of_words/33341.)

Does this mean that when someone says, "they were married out of wedlock", the bride is still upset at not having received an engagement ring? I doubt it, but it sure would turn some heads. Not to stir the pot too much, but I'm guessing that more people have children "out of wedlock" than women get married "out of wedlock". I'd like to see equal opportunity wedlocking, that is societal acceptance and proliferation of the mangagement gift.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

A new year... same theme!

So the holidays have past and a new year is upon us. So what will 2006 bring? It's difficult to even imagine. I'm hopeful that more people will be drawn to and add MANGAGEMENT and its lesser known sibling MENGAGEMENT (i.e. engagement between two men, or those of the same sex), to their vocabulary and the world of catchwords in 2006. In the NY Times Week in Review section from Christmas Day, there were multiple articles about the words of the year, including ubersexual, TomKat, and mashed up. Now, I like how ubersexual attempts to expand on metrosexual. (My personal favorite from the past few years must be the exurbs, which are those towns just beyond the suburbs. I am curious to see what we will call those towns beyond the exurbs or do we doubt that there are even towns that far away from major cities.) I don't really mind mash up (a term used for commingling musical tracks), but TomKat... I could dedicate an entire entry to that and I'm sure others have better insight and wittier comments on the relationship between Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes so I'll leave it at that. I will, however, contend that both MANGAGEMENT and MENGAGEMENT are better words and worth using more than TomKat.

FYI -- Grant Barrett offers a number of interesting words in the same NY Times and I assume, but haven't read, that his "The Official Dictionary of Unofficial English."

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Everyone Loves Raymond?

I just saw an old episode of Everyone Loves Raymond, where once again Debra appears to be doing the oposite of loving Ray. I thought this show was particularly apropos as Robert (Raymond's brother) has managed to screw up the wedding invitations for his wedding. As per usual, it all comes back to be Raymond's fault. Apparently, Raymond told Robert to purposely look incompetent in order to get out of wedding tasks. Unforutnately, the wedding invitations went out with major mispellings, the wrong date, and included the phrase "attire optional" instead of "bie tie optional." When Debra realizes that Raymond used the same tricks to prove his incompetence during the preparation for their own wedding and while they were married to escape certain duties, she -- how do we say -- goes ballistic.

So why's this Seinfeld-like comedy relevant to the mangagement gift? It's all about making expectations known, standard, and reasonable. Robert and Raymond both tried to avoid wedding duties becasue they were unsure of where the tasks would end. I would argue that had the male characters understood their limited responsibiliteis relative to their wedding, they would have been far more willing to finish their tasks in good faith. Similarly, if men can expect a little something -- material -- in return for the engagement ring, such as a mangagment watch from their future wife there may be a litlle -- okay it could be minute -- incentive to get engaged. (Just think about that ladies.)

Shouldn't in a time when men and women share more responsibilities like building a reltiaonship, finanical burden, and potentially raising a family, there be a more equitable engagement process. I clearly think so.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Equitable Not Necessarily Equal...

So wait, let me get this straight. I'm supposed to fork over 2 or 3 months of salary -- net or gross either way it hurts -- for a diamond engagement ring. Now I have nothing against saving up for a nice ring and showing that I'm willing to save and sacrifice for someone over an extended period of time. I'm just wondering what I'm supposed to get in return. Hypothetically, both man and woman are going to love each other and dedicate themselves to their marriage -- an equal partnership. How come the life-long, hopefully, committment starts off with such an an unequal display of affection. I'm not proposing a that a woman spend 2 or 3 months salary, but rather she offer a token of her love. I'd simply like to see the engagement process become more equitable not necessary equal. It's not about the amount of each gift be of equal value, but demonstrate one's love and commitment to the marriage.

I've thought long about how this would work and what might be best as a MANGAGEMENT GIFT and although I might want a plasma screen TV, wonderful leather chair, or season tickets to the Red Sox, a MANGAGEMENT WATCH is probably the most appropriate gift. It serves as a reminder and, like a ring, can vary in value. So women pony up and save some for a nice watch for your man, lest we start wearing T-shirts with the slogan, "I saved 3 months salary for an engagement ring and all I got in return was this lousy MANGAGEMENT t-shirt!"