The New York Times has an article today about gold bands and diamond rings that are attempting to turn the ring-industry on it’s head, and rather than symbolizing marriage or engagement, they mark singledom or divorce.
It’s a conundrum of a trend, really. On one hand, I’m in favor of anything that gives voice and recognition to every lifestyle, since the engagement-ring-and-wedding-band combo has a certain cliquey feel to it, and is a major symbol in our culture of “belonging.” (Check out an awesome Modern Love column on this topic).
But like the right-hand diamond, it’s unlikely that what are being called “single rings” will ever catch on. First of all, from the way the article describes it, it sounds like a pain in the ass to have to say “I’m wearing this ring to symbolize…” every time you go out to a bar. And ultimately, until being single is an accepted and celebrated life choice, rings to announce singledom probably won’t gain popularity on their own.
The article also talks about women and men who have their wedding rings melted down and remade. For instance, one woman has hers cut in half, with silver strings added across the gap to symbolize her son still tying her and her ex-husband together. That’s also a mouthful to get through over drinks, but I suspect that this trend will gain traction a lot more quickly. After all, the more people get out of marriages, the more they are going to want to find a way to get through the pain of the divorce. And I imagine that, like divorce parties, taking the ring to be resoddered and redesigned can help create a feeling of control and facilitate the healing process.
Of course, divorce bands are still indicative of having once been married, and do nothing to help those who don’t want to get married, haven’t ever found a person to marry, or legally can’t get married (in most states). In order to have a divorce band, you need to have once belonged to that exclusive platinum band club.
My favorite part of the article, though, might be the link to the site that sells coffins for wedding rings. That’s just so perfect. It’s witty, it’s drole, it says, “I’m divorced, but I haven’t lost my sense of humor.”
At any rate, there’s no doubt that this burgeoning market of alt-rings is, like the wedding industry, just another way of capitalizing on people’s feelings about their love lives. But even if, as I predict, the single-ring trend goes nowhere, if the people who buy these accoutrements — or refashion their own — get a sense of purpose or satisfaction from it, it’s a win-win.