Millennials are saying “I don’t” to pricey engagement rings and “I do” to cheap silicone wedding bands.
Silicone has a nice ring to it.
The symbolic act of placing a sparkling diamond ring and a precious metal band on a loved one’s finger has long been a tradition that marks engagement and marriage.
But it’s a costly one: According to The Knot’s 2016 Real Weddings survey of over 13,000 brides and grooms, the average price of an engagement ring in 2016 was $6,163, a $300 increase from 2015. Plus, the prices for gold are around $1200 per ounce, and platinum fluctuates between $800 and $1700 per ounce.
Those high prices — in addition to concerns about sustainability and ethical production — are causing many consumers, especially millennials, to just say no to traditional diamond engagement rings and platinum and gold wedding bands.
Enter the silicone wedding ring. Made by companies like Enso, Qalo and SafeRingz, the flexible rings — which come in a variety of colors that resemble gold, silver, platinum and copper — only cost around $20 – $30. And it’s not just the cost that’s driving this trend: It may also appeal to millennials who — while they still believe in marriage — no longer think they need a flashy symbol to signify the institution: “As people’s views on marriage change, whether it’s deemed archaic or pedestrian, so will styles of rings and the less pressure people put on themselves to be married the less important these symbols become,” says Jessica King, the senior fashion editor at Martha Stewart Weddings.
Another perk: Because silicone is temperature tolerant, oil resistant, non-conductive, non-porous and hypoallergenic, rings made from the synthetic material are lightweight, durable and able to take a beating. That means those who fear of pulling a Jimmy Fallon — who came creepily close to losing a digit in a 2015 injury sustained after tripping on a rug and catching his band on a countertop — need not worry when wearing a silicone wedding ring. (Jimmy Fallon has vowed to never wear a wedding ring again after that, and frankly, we can’t blame him, considering the Journal of Hand Surgery issued a study in 2008 suggesting that amputation is the best option for most patients who suffer from ring avulsion.)
That’s certainly why mountain biking enthusiast Peter Houghton made the switch from wearing a platinum band for 15 years to a $24.95 Qalo ring. “After my friend caught his gold ring on a tree branch during a freak crash that almost ripped his finger off, I decided to give one a try,” says Houghton. After sporting his new affordable matte black band, he says his wife requested a matching one.
For active millennials, silicone no doubt has big appeal as well: Los Angeles-based celebrity fitness trainer Owen McKibbin recommends that his clients wear minimal jewelry while exercising. “If you’re using machines or something that has moving parts, you want to err on the side of caution and safety,” says McKibbin.
But the biggest upside is still likely the price: If your ring falls off or goes missing at the gym— or anywhere else for that matter — you’re out less than $40.
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