Wedding rings are the cherry on top of the ice cream sundae; they’re literally the last things to go on your fingers before you’re announced as a couple, whether in a religious setting or at city hall.
They’re important to a lot of people, which is why they’re so expensive.
There’s an enormous jewelry industry that holds up the myth that a metal wedding band is the only way to go. It’s simply not true, but we all feel like it has to be 14k gold for some reason. Why?
We’ve been fed that same scrap of information for years, and our parents had them, so we have to, right?
Wrong! If you want to know why are wedding rings expensive, we’re about to bust this wide open, and discuss why silicone is the way to go. There’s no need to spend a ton of money on your rings anymore, and we’re about to prove it.
History of Wedding Rings
I’m going to keep this as effective as possible without all the fluff, but basically, we can trace back rings being used in holy matrimony as far back as 3,000 B.C., when the ancient Egyptians used it to make marriages.
They were reportedly the most intimate pieces of jewelry that anyone from around this time period would wear.
Through archaic practices, symbolism was a very big deal. A circle was seen as powerful, especially in Egypt, where it showed an unending cycle that could never be broken: love. The ring represented love properly to them, and it became tradition from there on out.
But it wasn’t just Egypt: Greece and Rome caught on to the idea as well. Greeks would give rings as gifts of love, while the Romans solidified the ring as a gift of love and of marriage.
From that point, they were adapted into other cultures. During the renaissance era, they were referred to as posey rings, which were a sterling silver band.
When we get into European nations as time marches on, we actually see some really cool ceremonies take place. Most notably, there were traditions in nordic countries that both members of the couple would give simple bands to one another during engagement.
Upon marriage, the woman would receive a jeweled ring, while the man’s ring was basically blessed by the bride to become a wedding ring, transcending from its original purpose. It marked a passage of time, but also a triumph of lasting from engagement to marriage.
There were far more than just the standard marriage ceremonies that we are used to.
Yes, wedding bands are commonly used in Lutheran, Agnclian, and Orthodox churches as a symbol of love, but they also appear throughout many smaller ceremonies throughout history.
Additional bits of items in history that share a similar story and purpose with the more traditional wedding ring are:
- Claddagh rings
- Eternity rings
- Thali necklaces
- Trilogy rings
They all have a basic theme around marriage, eternity, and spending your life with someone. Way back then, these were still more expensive items. It seems as though some things never change.
Materials Used Throughout History
Thought it was just gold or silicone?
No, not at all. While we’ll mention both of those in this next segment, there are plenty of materials you can see used throughout history for wedding bands, and many are still in practice today (they’re just even more unknown than silicone).
- Gold: We know gold, we know it’s expensive, and it’s the most-used material in all of history. One country that has more gold jewelry than anywhere else on the planet is actually India, where it’s still very traditional and very cherished. At the time of writing this, gold was over $1,900 per ounce.
- Sterling Silver: A very attractive option that shares a good amount of historical significance. While it’s certainly not gold, it did see a fair deal of use in renaissance times and in nordic countries. Sterling silver is actually just silver that’s been molded in a different way to increase its aesthetic appeal. At the time of writing this, silver was $24.48 per ounce.
- Platinum: Brilliant to look at and durable as can be, platinum has been a solid choice for years, but with a cost. The thing is, it’s related to palladium (which we’re going to talk about later), and despite being in the same category, it’s cheaper by a hefty amount. At the time of writing this, platinum was $944.00 per ounce, which is over 4x cheaper than palladium.
- Titanium: One of the most durable metals out there, titanium isn’t going to weather or fade with age. You can be sure of that. You can see titanium rings in stores, but oftentimes, the actual cost of these rings are astronomical because titanium is very hard to work with, and not exactly the shiniest thing out there. At the time of writing this, titanium was roughly $30.00 per pound.
- Steel: Steel was when the first major transition away from gold happened. This has been seen for about 120 years, spotted off and on again throughout history. Steel was an affordable way for lower class workers to afford an actual ring, and not just ask a question without the symbol to go with it. Steel can be made in so many different grades that it often resembles the same shine and luster as sterling silver, which is what made it popular again in the last thirty years or so. At the time of writing this, steel was less than $0.05 per pound.
- Palladium: Similar to platinum and in the same group, palladium is like what white gold is to platinum. It’s aesthetic, but oftentimes, it doesn’t have too much more of a shine than platinum. The good thing about it is that you don’t have to re-plate it from weathering or wear and tear over the years, because this material naturally protects against all that. Oh, and it’s usually even more expensive than platinum, which is already expensive. At the time of writing this, palladium was over $2,310 per ounce (yes, more expensive than gold).
- Tungsten Carbide: This is one we still see today. Tungsten is very durable, but is prone to scratching and light surface damage. The reason it’s still a popular choice is because it’s reasonably the most inexpensive type of band you can buy in today’s day and age. It’s not terribly difficult to work with, so a lot of jewelers will carry it. In fact, you’ll see tungsten bands paired with silicone bands in multi-packs all the time, for that spouse who doesn’t like the idea of silicone. At the time of writing this, tungsten was about $9.50 per pound, which is why they’re so inexpensive to purchase even after being refined and molded into rings.
- Silicone: The current king of the market. You’ve seen the morning show coverage, the digital magazine articles, and it’s all true: silicone is taking the world by storm. It’s not set to beat gold, but hey, it’s not a competition. Silicone can withstand over 500 years of use before degrading, doesn’t cause ring avulsion, and is safe for all professions to use while on the job, no matter how dangerous it is. At the time of writing this, silicone’s price is very fluid, but is expected to be around $50.00 per pound for high-end silicone, with some variants costing up to $100.00 per pound.
Why Are They So Expensive Right Now?
The price of gold is only going up. Regardless of whether or not we here as Best Silicone Rings think it’s a good material for rings in particular doesn’t matter, because it’s still a precious metal that has plenty of necessary, real-world applications (basically, we don’t hate gold).
The main reasons that gold rings are so expensive are as follows:
- Slow Corrosion: Metal corrodes and not only loses value, but becomes unusable for its conductive and chemical properties. Gold is one of the least corrosive metals we know of, while simultaneously being the most malleable.
- Scarcity: Gold is only going up in value due to its scarcity as a resource, and its common use in electronics and jewelry across the entire world.
- Tradition: If we didn’t have such traditional customs across the world, gold wouldn’t be in such high demand in the first place. It’s expensive because it’s a supply and demand thing—there’s more demand than supply, so prices only continue to skyrocket.
Gold isn’t set to go down at any point soon. At the time of writing this in 2020, gold is at an all-time high.
We can see spikes in gold prices, such as on the charts provided by goldprice.org, that show us when new deposits of gold are unearthed and extracted, gold prices go down temporarily.
Prices can also be attributed to economic trends as well, and since 2008’s housing collapse, we’ve only seen one major uphill climb in gold prices, followed by a decline in 2013 to 2019.
However, I still want to point something out: the all-time high for the decade is currently here, and it’s over $1,900 per ounce. The all-time low for the past decade is still over $1,000 per ounce.
It’s a big drop if you’re a gold investor, but otherwise, all it tells the rest of us is that at an absolutely low price, gold is still ridiculously expensive.
How to Avoid That Cost?
There are a few ways to go about it, but it breaks down to two basic ways that we think have excellent merit to them. That being said, we’re mentioning the third as a cautionary tale, and not as a suggestion.
Silicone Rings (Good Idea)
Silicone rings are the ultimate solution. We love them here because they’re the next generation of wedding rings (it’s about time, right?).
They represent a great deal of financial freedom, because it not only tells you that your spouse believes that an extreme amount of money that normally would be spent on gold could be better spent elsewhere to invest in your marriage, but also that they’re not very materialistic (hey, it’s always good to have reminders).
You can go with the big names, like Enso bands, Qalo, Groove Life – any of the major silicone ring brands that we all know and love – and come out spending less than a single Benjamin to have wedding rings that last four times longer than the longest recorded human life in history. Want to know how long do silicone rings last?
It’s still a declaration of love, but it also says to other people that you have confidence in each other that you don’t need to hide behind gold; silicone is fine, because your marriage is fine and doesn’t depend on gift-giving.
No Rings (Good Idea)
This is a trend that’s even more recent than silicone rings, and has a longer lasting set of ideals than our third option here. This isn’t for everyone, because it takes a lot of commitment and dedication to really know that your spouse is going to uphold their promises to you.
While we’re all about silicone rings here, I have to admit, this is a great option. Many couples nowadays are frugal (how can you not be in 2020?), and cherish their combined finances and spending them responsibly more than spending it on a set of rings. How can you fault anyone for that?
Also, it’s becoming a trend among women, and not for the reasons you would think. Many women can’t wear them because of their jobs, or because of other reasons, and just get comfortable with not wearing a wedding ring.
Apparently, so does their partner, and with that mutual trust, it works out for the better.
Tattoo Rings (Not a Good Idea)
I’m not going to name names here, but I personally know someone who did this. Matching ring tattoos, and the marriage lasted six months. Look, I’m not saying that marriages are doomed, but even with a gold ring, you can take it off after.
With a silicone ring, you can remove it if things go south. It’s not a good idea.
If you spend half an hour searching online forums with regretful tattoos, you’re going to have a plentiful supply.
There are endless people who have made the mistake of getting tattoos, whether it’s for sentimental purposes or not, and then things go pear-shaped. This is ill-advised, even though the sentiment is powerful.
What is the Average that a Couple in the United States Spends on Traditional Wedding Rings?
Gold is expensive, and also the primary metal for all wedding rings. It’s very rare to see titanium bands or even silver bands out there, even though silver is so much cheaper than gold.
The reason for all of this is definitely due to the fact that gold has this ceremonious feel to it. It’s used so often across different cultures and throughout history that there’s this expectedness to it. If there’s a gold band on your hand, people assume it’s a wedding band.
But those wedding bands absolutely set people back. On average, in the United States, you can expect a man to spend around $500, and females often spend twice or more, averaging around $1,100.
Without coming across with any negative light here, traditionally in many ways, men do pay for the wedding bands and want to make sure that their bride-to-be is taken care of, and have no problem spending the additional money on them.
But that’s still about $1,600 on two bands, and that doesn’t include engraving services. Like we talked about earlier, the price of gold fluctuates, but it rarely takes a deep enough dive to justify the cost.
Even if you look at price collapses from 2016, you could still expect to spend roughly $900 on wedding bands at that long-gone price. What? Why would you do that?
Engraved silicone wedding bands can be purchased for less than 5% of the cost of modern-day gold bands, even if you go for high-end ones (not that you really need to).
If you go with any combination of bands on our guides for men’s silicone rings and women’s silicone rings, you can take your pick, and still walk away with more than an extra $1,500 in your pocket compared to gold wedding bands.
Silicone is the Future
Gold is better used as a conductor in important applications than a ring on your finger. Silicone is not only wildly inexpensive compared to gold wedding bands, but they also give you the (literal) flexibility you need to be able to wear them all the time, no matter what. Even in dangerous professions.
From being cost effective to being safer, we also have to factor in that silicone takes 500 years to break down.
You can still pass down a silicone ring as an heirloom to your children, even if they end up getting their own (which they most likely will). It’s a nice keepsake. Wedding rings don’t have to be gold anymore; it’s time for the world to realize that.