By Claudia Feldman, Houston Chronicle
More young people are forgoing wedding bands
Prince William doesn’t like to wear jewelry. He doesn’t need a ring to remind himself that he is marrying the beautiful, glowing Kate Middleton.
When word leaked out that he decided to skip the gold band at the royal wedding, however, busybodies (like us) began to talk. Is William kicking sand at tradition? Are wedding rings for men and women going the way of fountain pens and garter belts?
Kinda-sorta, says Rob Weiner, a pop culture and visual and performing arts librarian at Texas Tech University. “A certain segment of the population does believe William is thumbing his nose at time-honored traditions.”
But, he adds, many young people, men and women, side with the prince.
“The whole ring thing is a bit overrated for a lot of people today,” Weiner says. “It’s what’s in your heart that’s most important. For some, the ring symbolizes being dragged down, like a ball and chain.”
Times have changed, says Houstonian Tammy Smith. “I have a co-worker who doesn’t wear his wedding ring on his finger but on his key chain instead. Not sure of the reason — I think he doesn’t want to lose it – but I do know that he doesn’t wear jewelry other than earrings in both ears.”
Jodi Gonzalez, a clinical psychologist at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, says the prince is in good company at her workplace and in her town.
“In many lines of work rings cause a hazard, and frankly, some men just aren’t jewelry wearers,” Gonzalez says. “Or they lose their rings and get tired of buying new ones.”
Houstonian Ralph Holle has been married more than 40 years but doesn’t wear his ring. His father lost his thumb in an accident made worse by his wedding band, and Holle doesn’t want to see the accident repeated.
(The thumb was successfully reattached.)
Holle says he doesn’t need a ring to remind him to be faithful to his wife. In fact, he says, “a man wearing a wedding band has a much better chance of ‘scoring.’ Some single guys wear a band for that reason.”
Like Holle, some women would prefer to skip the ring thing, too.
When I wrote about Prince William and his no-ring policy on blogs.chron.com/middlelane, one woman complained that the fancy ring set from her first marriage got caught in her hair and in her clothes. Michelle took the rings off when she went running in the park, exercising at the gym, shopping or to the beach. Although she preferred a simple gold band for her second marriage, she got another fancy ring set and the request that she wear it at all times.
“And guess what?” Michelle wrote. She and her spouse were riding the rapids in the Frio River. “I grabbed a rock and OFF popped the set. Bye bye, rings!
“Both of my hubs, ex and current, work on machinery, and a ring is more of a hazard than anything. Plus, both of them said that they get hit on more when they wear the ring than when they don’t. A ring doesn’t mean you’re married. The license isn’t null and void when you don’t. I don’t see the point of a ring except as a ‘no trespassing’ sign, maybe.”
While women have been wearing wedding rings since ancient Egyptian times, the tradition for men began with World War II. As married soldiers went off to war, they craved reminders of loved ones waiting for them at home.
Prince William or no, jewelers seem confident that double ring ceremonies are as popular as ever.
At Tiffany & Co. in San Antonio, store director Mike Gresham says sales for wedding rings for women and men are going strong.
Tiffany’s, of course, is a jewelry store seeped in tradition.
Says Gresham, “It boils down to the blue box, which hasn’t changed from generation to generation.”
When Dan Decker with Robbins Brothers, the Engagement Ring Store, was asked if men’s wedding rings were on the way out, he just laughed.
“No way, man. Bling, bling,” said the ring center consultant in Los Angeles. “Nobody wants to go around with nothing.”
In fact, says Kelly Roddy, general manager of Robbins Brothers’ Arlington store, they are not just selling men’s wedding rings but men’s engagement rings, too. And yes, she says, some are encrusted with diamonds.
Lizzie Post – etiquette expert, author and great-great granddaughter of etiquette queen Emily Post – also has a different twist on the engagement ring theme. She has girlfriends who have bought themselves what look like engagement rings, and they wear them to deter men from obnoxious flirting.
“It’s a real mixed bag here in America,” Post muses. “It’s not one way or the highway.”