DEAR ABBY: The letter from "Mother in Hampton, Ga.," who told her daughters she would not give her approval for marriage unless they received a one-carat diamond engagement ring, reminded me of a situation in my family years ago.
My sister became engaged to a fellow we all liked very much. My parents hosted an engagement party in their home and invited all their relatives and friends.
The young man had recently been discharged from the Army and had no money -- therefore, there was no engagement ring. At the party, two guests, in critical and judgmental tones, said to my mother, "We don't see a diamond ring on your daughter's finger." Mother smiled and called the young man from across the room. When he came over, she said to the guests, "THIS is our jewel."
My sister and her husband were happily married for more than 45 years. He was successful in his profession. My sister received more diamonds and material things than most wives. -- JERRY IN HUNTINGTON, N.Y.
DEAR JERRY: I admire your mother's values. Predictably, that letter generated more mail. Read on:
DEAR ABBY: The advice given by "Mother in Hampton, Ga.," to her daughters not to accept an engagement ring unless it was at least one carat is blatantly sexist. It is the equivalent of a father telling his son not to marry any woman with less than a 38-inch bust. Such a father would be teaching his son to view women as "sex objects." "Mother" is teaching her daughters to view men as "success objects."
In response to her defense that she's teaching her daughters to focus on how well the man could "provide the necessities," let me share the results of my own research.
Applying the "DeBeers Standard," which suggests that the diamond should equal two months' salary, a one-carat ring will cost an average of $28,125 in the Kansas City area. A man who makes that much in two months will bring home $337,500 per year. Figuring the tax bracket he would be in, the minimum salary "Mother" would accept is $675,000 per year. Granted, that would buy an awful lot of "necessities."
"Mother" may believe she is not teaching her daughters to focus on the ring, but she sure as heck is not teaching them to look at things such as tenderness, companionship or fidelity. I guess Mama figures $675,000 would make for a "comfortable" divorce settlement. -- GEORGE IN RAYTOWN, MO.
DEAR GEORGE: Your letter is a hoot, but your numbers don't add up, at least according to my calculations. Also, I don't know what jeweler you consulted in Kansas City, but according to diamond specialist James Kersey at Harry Winston in Beverly Hills (nothing but the best for my readers), a "very nice" one-carat diamond sells for around $10,000.