She'll pretty much have to: a woman's opinion

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

One of my favorite bloggers, Bad at Life recently posed some questions about jewelry ads- basically, why "women are so drawn to small sparkly rocks." I was going to answer in the comments, then realized I had a lot more to say than a few words, so I'm responding on here.

While I agree that some of the commercials are pretty damn lame (especially the "He went to Jared" ones), I do have to (shamefully) admit that I get a little choked up during some of the other ones. Yes, I am a total sap- that, and I've never received expensive (or even reasonably nice) jewelry from anyone other than my family. And I am a hopeless romantic- I've always wanted one of those "grand romantic gestures" from someone.

But to address the question that B@L posed, there are a few reasons women like to receive jewelry. First, in general, women express their feelings more often and openly than men do. We are the more affectionate gender.* So, while we may know that you love us, sometimes we like something more physical to show that love. Hence the whole "jewelry/flowers" thing. Most of us are not very subtle about our feelings for a man, while men are a lot less expressive. That's the briefest answer.

Secondly, our love of pretty things is ingrained in us from childhood. Look at the difference in children's clothing- boy's clothing is more functional, while girl's clothing is meant to be cute. Take skirts- there is absolutely nothing functional about skirts, except that they are less constricting and a lot cooler than pants in warm weather. And how many little girls are walking around with purses? Do they need them? Are they carrying wallets and car keys in them? No. They carry them because they are cute. And even as adults- we women wear some of the most uncomfortable garments you can imagine (pantyhose, anyone?), while men's clothing is about 200 times more comfortable- and functional. I wear skirts- a lot. Which means that (at work) I have to wear pantyhose (specifically thigh-highs). Not very comfortable, but definitely more flattering than pants. And women's shoes? I just bought a pair (which are my new favorites) of black, pointed-toe, 3" stillettos. Should I be wearing something more practical (especially given the size of the hotel I work in), like flats? Absolutely. But I won't, because these are pretty, and well, very sexy. Look back in time, as well.... even before electricity, women were working outside in dresses. Women also wore corsets. Neither of which were practical. But we like pretty things.

So yes, jewelry is not practical, and when you think about it, paying big bucks for a piece of rock isn't practical, but that's just what we've been taught to like (and appreciate).

And guys, with the holiday season approaching, here's a little advice for you- please, please, please don't get the woman in your life a kitchen appliance- while she may need a new blender, it's not a good present. Or, if you do, please get her something nice to go with it- like this. Rule of thumb- the less practical and the more pretty, the better the gift.

*these are vast generalizations, and in no way reflect all women or all men.

edit- I am not saying that anyone should spend 3 grand on a necklace, and I'm not sure I would want something that expensive. I just used that necklace as an example and didn't even look at the price.


Anonymous,  11/29/2006 03:50:00 PM  

I thin ka lot of women prefer jewelery because it's such a personal gift and it shows that you've put just as much time/effort/money into our gift as we have yours, you know.

I'd much rather get this (that necklace isn't really my style) but I agree with you.

My necklace is such a sorority girl cliche, but I love it

KassyK 11/29/2006 04:01:00 PM  

Great post...I agree that its just a more personal thing like Team G said. My first set of jewerly was from my ex for my bday back in college and it was the first time a man had gotten me something (besides family) and it just was so sweet that he went out and picked a set of jewerly that he thought would "look pretty" on me.

And the grand gesture thing--man are we on the same page...that was my post for tomorrow. I love that :)

Hey Pretty 11/29/2006 04:19:00 PM  

I just like pretty, sparkly things. But my clothes are almost entirely fully functional and comfy. I live in jeans and Dansko clogs and my legs seldom experience the torture of hose. Sure, I don't look like a typical girly girl, but my motto? Comfort is sexy.

Virgle Kent 11/29/2006 04:46:00 PM  

Get the fuck out of here with that $3,100 necklace or should I say pendant. Are you kidding me! That’s a present you get a woman you’ve been married to for years and carried your kids in her stomach for nine months without falling down the stairs.

That’s the problem with these shiny gifts, if you get her that the next one has to be shinier aka more expensive. Then the engagement wring has to be as big as and cost as much as a house.

Why don’t we combine the kitchen appliance and the shiny thing like get you platinum hibachi skillet set so you can hook up some grub? Just sayin.

Anonymous,  11/29/2006 05:11:00 PM  

pfft, I'm one of those abberations. If you want to spend 3 grand on a gift for me (the line starts on the left), get me a new laptop and lots of accessories for it.

Anonymous,  11/29/2006 05:25:00 PM  

I do love pretty things and I'll sacrifice my comfort to wear a pair of kickass heels. I just don't really see the appeal of jewelry. I've never really wanted a diamond necklace. I wouldn't wear it and it would really just end up stashed in a box or pawned. I'd prefer a shopping spree to buy my only true loves: clothes and shoes. Perhaps a camera as well.

Anonymous,  11/29/2006 05:48:00 PM  

Hmmm, all of that may be true, but I'm still not entirely convinced. I simply don't buy the notion that the amount of money a man spends on a woman is a good gauge of how much he loves her. In fact, go to a restaurant or cocktail party and find the woman wearing the biggest diamonds in the room and I'd bet that she has one of the unhappiest marriages of anybody there.

...and none of that changes the fact that boys like expensive things too. Where's our love during the holiday commercials?

Anonymous,  11/29/2006 06:08:00 PM  

Ok, more pretty less practical. Got it. As for me, just call me Survivor Man. If I had to, I would wear mud.

P.S. Damn, I thought for sure I linked to you. Guess not.

Ricardo 11/29/2006 07:01:00 PM  

I send you a virtual tennis bracelet from afar Ashburnite. As for the 3 grand stuff, I need that for things like food and living quarters. I can't imagine spending that much on jewelry. Maybe I should go into selling ringtones? HA!

Anonymous,  11/29/2006 08:10:00 PM  
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous,  11/29/2006 08:38:00 PM  

Um, ok to the random comment spam action.

As for B@L's assertion that boys like expensive things, that's very true.

My boyfriend who taunted me mercilessly for a $200 hoodie that I bought, just bought a $400 hoodie because Kaye rocked it at a Stella McCartney show last season...

DF,  11/29/2006 08:49:00 PM  

80% of all consumer spending is conducted by women and yet statistically speaking men still earn more. Hmmmm. The holiday season is one of the few instances firms can directly target the man's wallet and what a better way to target that 20% than on things he would not typically buy throughout the year.

B@L is right. There is no correllation between a man's affection and the cost of the jewelry. Jewelry is simply a gauge of a man's disposable income, not his time nor the amount of effort he puts into the relationship. I can't tell you how many senior banker's I know that have wives with rocks so big the wife has to walk with a sling around her arm and yet the guys almost always have another girl on the side.

Ashburnite 11/29/2006 08:51:00 PM  

gbread- yeah, I love the pearls as well. and good point, it's def more personal.

kassy- all I want is some grand gesture :-)

hey pretty- yeah, as soon as I get home, it's comfort all the way; but at work, I like to dress up.

vk- yeah, the necklace is a little much, but it was just supposed to be an example. I would never expect a $3,000 necklace- much too extravegant. and a platinum hibachi skillet? please, I don't cook.

ic- yeah, 3 grand is a little much.

mm- I guess I'm just a total "girly-girl."

b@l- I don't think it's a matter of how much he spends on her, but more how much thought he puts into the gift. Jewelry doesn't have to be expensive to be special. you can find something beautiful and special for under $500.

el patro- yes. def. no practical gifts.

ricardo- awwww..thanks, sweety. and yeah, maybe you should sell cheap ringtones and earn a whopping $300/month :-)

Ashburnite 11/29/2006 08:55:00 PM  

gbread- what??!! $400 for a hoodie???!! wow.

df- very good point. but do you think that a lot of the consumer spending (by women) has a lot to do with the fact that, in relationships at least, women are the ones shopping for household goods?

nicole 11/29/2006 10:26:00 PM  

I don't think women are necessarily TAUGHT to like pretty things. A lot of us just do.

I dress as bummy as you'd ever want to imagine yet whenever I pass a glittery jewelry counter at the store? I have to take a look. I guess I get distracted by shiny objects. ;)

nicole 11/29/2006 10:27:00 PM  

And thanks SO much for jolting a few guys out of their household appliance reverie. Even though they probably mean well, a handheld vacuum is just not necessary on Christmas morning.

Ricardo 11/30/2006 12:39:00 AM  

LOL! I agree with Nicole that a vacuum would not the the way anyone's heart on Christmas morning. It's just us men being utilitarian.

Anonymous,  11/30/2006 10:32:00 AM  
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
minijonb 11/30/2006 11:30:00 AM  

I like buying jewelry for women. But it's not paying big bucks for a rock... it's buying wearable art. Some wearable art is not that expensive if you look in the right places.

Anonymous,  11/30/2006 01:24:00 PM  

Thigh high's and stillettos??

"How yooooou doin'?"

Anonymous,  11/30/2006 01:51:00 PM  

i don't really like receiving jewerly. i'd rather receive something that shows the person actually thought about the gift. anyone can pick up a diamond and stick it in a box. that's lame and unoriginal.

White Dade 11/30/2006 06:10:00 PM  

What about a vacuum cleaner? Would that not be good either?

The Husband 11/30/2006 08:01:00 PM  

if i get a girl a $3,000 necklace she better be giving me lots of booty.

Rachel,  11/30/2006 11:18:00 PM  

Jewlery is many times overrated. I am more into electronics than sparkly gems.
90% of the stuff on my wish list are electronics like digital camera, portable DVD player, laptop, plasma TV, TiVo.
I could go on and on and on.....
I will admit that I would like to have a nice pair of diamond earrings but that is pretty much it. I tend to lose jewelry.

Anonymous,  12/01/2006 12:37:00 AM  

I've only given a girl expensive jewelry twice in my life. Both times to the same girl. Both times, her joy was worth it.

The girl is my wife, or as she prefers to be called, my reason for being.

(She told me she preferred that after I tried calling her my first wife. I got hit. Then I asked, How about my current wife? I got hit again. But I digress.)

The first expensive sparkly thing was her engagement ring.

Because my mom was widowed when I was but a tyke, and she had remarried more than a decade before I took the plunge, she had kept the engagement ring my father had given to her in a safety deposit box for me to use, when the time came.

The stone is of creditable size, but not gaudy. And it was mine, for free.

So, after I did the down-on-one- knee thing, and we'd done the tell-both-sets-of-'rents-and-make- everyone-cry thing, I showed her the ring, and she and my mom both agreed that she should have a new setting.

With the rock being free to me, I could splurge on the setting. My mom pointed this out in my new fiancee's presence. (You girls do stick together on this stuff, dontchya?)

My reason for being had a favorite jewelry designer in our mutual hometown. We brought her the stone and she showed us a number of possible settings. I've got zero taste in such things, so I left choosing up to my intended.

She chose a beautiful modern setting for the engagement ring and a wedding band that would interlink with it once we actually got hitched.

It was expensive, and worth every penny.

The second time was when she was pregnant with Monkeyboy in DC. I went to a jeweler a gay friend sent me to (you girls do stick together on this stuff, dontchya?).

He helped me pick out some gorgeous earrings made of some semiprecious stone.

(Honest-to-G-d, I'm so hopeless about this stuff that I can't remember which one.)

My plan was to keep them hidden in my briefcase and pop them out the very first time she told me pregancy was making her fat and ugly.

But they were burning a hole in my briefcase. I lasted roughly fifteen minutes after I got home before I had to pull them out and give them to her.

She loved them. I only see them on very special, dressy occasions, but I know she loves them still.

But if anyone ever wants to spend 3 grand on me, I'll happily take it in black and purple chips at the nearest Indian casino with a blackjack table.

Tara 12/01/2006 11:01:00 AM  

Take me to Sharper Image or Best Buy and I'm happy. I like jewelry, but nothing that'll take a hefty dent out of someone's bank account. Oh and as for appliances, I would accept one of those chocolate fondue fountains. Maybe a Gevalia coffee maker too. :)

Elvis 12/01/2006 03:12:00 PM  

I've bought my ex's whatever made them happy. If an ipod doesn't do it for her, what's the point of getting her one? A few months ago, I bought a couple of rings for the gf cause she liked them (after spotting them on a whim at the mall). It was fun cause... it just was.

Shodan25 12/03/2006 09:45:00 AM  

Back in my misguided youth, I bought, for my (future) wife's upcoming birthday, an expensive set of kitchen knives, more than I could afford, really, since she was very into cooking. When I told my mother what I bought, she went out and bought an inexpensive, engraved locket and made me give my GF that as well. You guessed it, the knives were ignored and the locket was a BIG hit. Lesson learned. I haven't bought her a "practical" gift for 30 years....

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