By Michelle Graff

My fiancé hates Valentine's Day. He thinks it's a made-up holiday invented by greeting-card companies, florists and jewelers to guilt men into spending money on romantic gifts. So we compromise by going to a nice dinner on Feb. 14, instead of exchanging gifts.

"I don't need it to be Valentine's Day for me to tell you how much I love you," he says.

Of course, when the chocolates start arriving at my co-workers' desks, and I see men on the subway dutifully toting bouquets for their beloveds, I think that maybe I'm getting the short end of the stick.

But then my fiancé will come home the following week with a dozen roses for no reason whatsoever, or he'll pick up a piece of jewelry that he knows I've been eyeing. These gifts mean so much more to me than those I receive out of a misplaced obligation or tradition.

Denouncing Valentine's Day in the jewelry industry may make me somewhat of a heretic, but imagine if all consumers considered every day Valentine's Day. Imagine if men and women walked into your store even during the slow months of July and August looking for a special something for their special someone for no special reason at all.

I think sometimes we sell men short by expecting that they would never have the free thought to buy a gift without commercials and marketing telling them they must. Then again, if we got rid of Valentine's Day, I'd never get to eat those candy hearts.

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