Wedding Rings: Past, Present and Future
The Royal Wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton is today, April 29. Middleton already inherited the late Princess Diana's engagement ring, but the wedding has Hazelwood residents reflecting on how such a small thing can bond so many.
There is very little as symbolic and cherished as a family wedding ring. Throughout centuries and cultures this tradition has a universal understanding. Egyptians, Greeks and Romans alike all believed in the vast power of the ring and its promise of seamless, unending love and virtue. Wedding rings evoke many different emotions in people, but for most they conjure tradition, happiness, and sometimes even envy.
Take the 18-carat rock that was given to Kate Middleton by her long-time boyfriend Prince William for example. The sapphire stunner was once owned by Princess Diana and is now passed down to her daughter-in-law-to be, but she's not the only one who will be wearing the engagement ring this year.
Knock-offs of the royal engagement ring are popping up like spring flowers with no end in sight. Michael Arnstein, CEO of the National Sapphire Company, described his web site crashing and phones ringing non-stop at the demand for the ring. Designer Kenneth Jay Lane also launched a replica for QVC which began shipping Dec. 20. While Middleton's ring is valued at over a cool mill, the QVC look-alike is a steal at only $39.54.
Even without a hefty price tag or royal roots, family engagement and wedding rings are coveted and priceless by the ones who wear them. Hazelwood resident, Kelley Johnson-Powers, was amazed at the magnitude her own ring held. Powers designed the ring's setting and had it filled with diamonds from her mother's engagement ring.
"It's something very personal and deep that can't be replaced," she said. "To know that the stones in this ring have been around that long, and belonged to my mother at my age is truly a deeply sentimental thing, and it just means so much to my family and me."
Janet Wagner had a similar story to tell of her band.
"My parents gave it to my fiancé to give to me because it was my grandmother's [ring] and has been in our family so long," she said with excitement. "I think it's fine to get a new ring but I really do consider mine to be priceless because of the family tie it has."
Though most are fortunate enough to never part with their wedding rings, sad as it is more people are turning to pawn shops to hold onto their precious mementos when they are in a bind. Several Hazelwood pawn shops, that didn't want their names published, report that they average five wedding sets per month. They said some people consider it easier to get much needed cash quickly through them, than it is through a bank in our current economy. Interest rates run around 20 percent and items held can usually be paid off and come home to their owners quickly.
All in all, wedding rings are a truly global symbol of faith, fellowship and unity. From generation-to-generation they have withstood tests of time and tribulation and continue to put sparkles in the eyes and on the fingers of their beholders.
We'll just have to watch and see how where Princess Di's ring goes from here.