Parting gifts

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When Nicole Crowley of Bethesda gave birth to her son four Decembers ago, her husband, John, surprised her with a gift just for her — a platinum necklace from Tiffany with a little heart on it.

“I cried,” says Mrs. Crowley, who blogs about parenting at BananaBlueberry.com and DC Metro Moms (http://svmomblog. typepad.com/dc_metro_ moms). “He said it was so whenever I look at it I will remember our Christmas present that changed our lives forever. I did not expect a gift, so for him to go out on his own and buy one … that means a lot to me. It was a lovely gesture.”

What Mrs. Crowley’s husband showed up with is called a “push present,” a growing trend among new parents. In some circles, a healthy baby is no longer the only reward for nine months of weight gain and discomfort, not to mention a grueling labor and delivery. A Movado watch can help dull the pain, as can a diamond tennis bracelet.

Really, a push present can be anything, but jewelry is most popular because it is a significant gift to mark a significant event. Some couples see it as an investment in their family and creating heirlooms with special meaning.

Jessica Ciosek of New York City received diamond rings after the birth of each of her children, now ages 9 and 7. She and her husband, Bob, prefer to call the gifts “baby baubles.”

“I think baby baubles add to the shared history of a family much like wedding rings, anniversary gifts and even photo albums,” Mrs. Ciosek says. “I wear both rings every day, and I have often talked with my kids about how they represent each of them. Sometimes they ask me which ring is ‘theirs’ and want to hear the story about how I came to have the ring.”

Kurt Rose, co-owner of Aspen Jewelry Designs in Herndon, says push presents are “absolutely a growing trend.” Mr. Rose presented his wife, Dianne, with a diamond bracelet when their son was born, and a diamond pendant to commemorate the birth of their daughter.

“In our store, many women will come in and start a wish list of three or four things when they are pregnant,” Mr. Rose says. “We’ll have the item ready for him to take to the hospital.”

Mr. Rose says one customer ordered a three-carat diamond ring to give to his wife. A typical customer, however, will spend about $1,000. Diamond stud earrings are a very popular push present, he says.

“Men don’t have to go through labor,” he says. “Women have to do the hard part; they deserve a gift. If your part of it is to just buy a gift, then you are getting off easy.”

Christina Vercelletto, senior editor at Parenting magazine, says the concept of push presents probably started gaining steam, as many trends do, because celebrities were doing it.

“I remember reading about Michael Douglas buying Catherine Zeta-Jones a necklace when their daughter was born,” Ms. Vercelletto says. “It has trickled down to the middle class. What happens is one mom gets a bracelet and she tells her friend, then the husband of that friend is doomed. Because your best friend got a push present, you are going to want one, too.”

Ms. Vercelletto says it will be interesting to see what will happen to push presents if the rocky economic climate continues. With babies come lots of bills - furniture for the nursery, a stroller and future day care expenses among the big-ticket items. Will families have room in their budget for diamonds?

“The advice we have been giving is that if you have a husband who is willing to help out, that is the best present,” Ms. Vercelletto says. “That kind of attitude will take you further than earrings.”

More practical families can mark the occasion with something that requires a smaller investment, Ms. Vercelletto says. A digital camera to record baby’s milestones makes a great gift, as do more creative ideas such as a future weekend getaway.

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About the Author
Karen Goldberg Goff

Karen Goldberg Goff

Karen Goldberg Goff has been a reporter at The Washington Times since 1992. She currently writes feature-length stories on a variety of topics, including family issues, pop culture, health, food and technology. Follow Karen on Twitter.

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