Evolution. Does it mean abandonment of tradition? I think both yes and no, and sometimes that duality leads to clarity and sometimes conflict. World politics cry out for radical change. If you don’t believe it then you must either be one of the 1% or live under a rock. In that change begins with yourself, reevaluating personal priorities seems quite appropriate these days, it probably always did. These ideas formed and churned inside me as I looked at a recent Outside Magazine and found an advertisement for silicone wedding bands. For under US$20.
These are advertised in a magazine that appeals to people who are willing to spend many thousands of dollars on a bicycle. And additional thousands on a watch to see how fast they are riding. And more thousands of dollars for the gear that most people use to get…outside! I know this because I’m a fairly outside guy, a mountaineer and sometime rock climber with a respectable trad rack and an incredibly lightweight backpacking shelter. And yup, I saw the silicone ring ad because I have a subscription to Outside!
As a person who has spent my entire adult life designing and manufacturing custom jewelry in precious metals (often of the wedding variety) I’m just not sure how to think about silicone wedding rings. I have to admit right up front that the adventure guy in me sort of thinks they are cool. I certainly can’t wear my wedding ring, (made in 18K gold) while rock climbing. And I must consider a couple that would rather spend what precious little money they likely have to start building memories on an epic honeymoon rather than an expensive set of rings. There’s something to that for sure.
On the other hand, is silicone the material that I want to represent, the most precious thing I have, my relationship with my wife and children? Every known culture, from ancient past to present, has worn some form of body adornment in the form of jewelry. We know this because anthropologists have excavated their precious metal jewelry from long-buried sites. Thousands of years from now, does our horizon want to be the one that has abandoned precious metals for silicone? What assumptions would a future anthropologist make about our priorities upon finding a $3000 watch next to a silicone wedding ring?
I’ll leave this with a couple of comments from an article in Road & Track Magazine by Zach Bowman. After some praise for the silicone ring he test drove he says this near the end of the article…
“That’s not to say that the (silicone) band is perfect. After a few days and multiple hand washings, it lost its factory coating. Run your hand through someone’s hair and they’ll wince as the silicone grabs at every strand. It gets stuck on clothing, and I nearly lost the thing after it fell off while I pulled my phone from my pocket. It also looks like the height of eighth grade fashion.
I’m back to my gold band, but not because it’s a better choice than the (silicone ring). My ring was there the day I swore to love my wife forever. It’s been there every day since, through every argument, every curse, and every grin. It’s marred with the scratches and dings of the years we’ve spent together…”