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March 08, 1997|From Associated Press

Giving the perfect gift can puzzle your mind, break your budget and give you a glow of satisfaction.

In an article in the February issue of Town & Country, some of the places where the rich and famous do their shopping revealed their customers' favorite wedding gifts--and then went on to name some of their own pet presents.

* Baccarat: The enduring popularity of its century-old Capri stemware might be credited to one of the world's most famous brides--Princess Grace of Monaco, who chose it for her new household in Monte Carlo (water goblet, $82; wineglass, $75).

For the betrothed couple with everything, Baccarat suggests following the lead of an Indian maharajah who commissioned crystal furniture upholstered in Baccarat-red velvet as a wedding gift for his daughter (roughly $500,000).

* Bergdorf Goodman: Its most popular registry item is its Hotel collection of stylish silver-plate once used in some of the world's finest hostelries and on cruise ships (from $195 for a five-piece setting to $1,800 for a double champagne cooler).

For an old-fashioned bride, Bergdorf would create a mix-and-match antique tea set made up of pieces from Wedgewood, Spode and the porcelain companies of Limoges, France ($55 to $150 per cup).

* Bulgari: Here, the silver frames and candlesticks tempt many a giver, but it's the company's majestic fluted silver bowl ($3,100) that won the popularity contest.

Not special enough? Try one of its exquisite gold clocks encrusted with coral and sapphires, amethysts and rubies, or sparkling citrines ($75,000, $100,000, $100,000, respectively).

* Calvin Klein. You can't go wrong with basic black, which is probably why Calvin Klein Home's ultra-cool kohl Stoneware pattern is so popular ($55 for a five-piece setting). For the truly inspired gift, Calvin prefers to think metallic: a pair of simple sculpted bowls in luminous silver and bronze ($200 for a 6-inch bowl; $270 for a 10-inch version).

* Cartier: Brides-to-be who venture here can't get enough of its sterling napkin rings in the company's famed rolling ring design ($340 for four).

And for adding an extravagant touch to thank-you notes: Cartier's custom-engraved stationery and an 18-karat gold fountain pen with 317 diamonds and 248 sapphires (stationery priced per order; pen $60,000).

* Christofle: Perles, a 120-year-old flatware pattern, has graced the tables of Moroccan kings and French presidents alike. But Christofle said the pattern's classic lines are equally popular with brides ($235 per five-piece silver-plate setting).

Need something slightly more unusual? The company suggested its 39-inch silver replica of a cruise ship, created from an original Deco design ($30,000).

* Ralph Lauren: Cream-colored Meredith china, with its flower-strewn border and gold accents, is the bridal pattern of choice from the Ralph Lauren Home Collection ($217 for a five-piece setting).

For a less demure gift, Lauren recommends the silk-charmeuse Gala bedspread with black velvet backing ($2,500).

* Tiffany & Co.: Sybil, Tiffany's popular pineapple-cut barware, is named for Irish couturier Sybil Connolly and has a gracefulness that seems made for brides (highball and old-fashioned glasses, $40 each).

But for sheer visual presence, nothing beats the sterling coffee service designed by Frank Lloyd Wright (three pieces, $10,500).

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