Would you repurpose this wedding band?
July 12, 2021 8:27 AM   Subscribe

I'm getting married in the later half of the year and need a wedding band (men's) for myself. I have what appears to be a wedding band that was with my late father's possessions, but it doesn't appear to have been his. More inside.

My father passed away last January, having suffered dementia and memory loss for several years. In his effects I received a few cigar boxes full of things that were his intermixed with some things from his late uncles.

One of the things is an 18K gold wedding band that seems to be a sized for someone in my family. (It's about a 13, which would be right for my dad or his uncles or me.) However, the initials and date in the ring mean nothing to me or my brothers, and it's too late to ask my father about it now. I don't think it was my father's wedding band - neither first or second marriage, though the date might be a fit for his marriage to my mother (but totally wrong initials..)

I've been discussing wedding bands with my fiance and having a hard time thinking of anything that appeals to me. I find the idea of spending several thousand dollars on a ring kinda silly. I'm not a jewelry person and none of the things that are meaningful to me lend themselves well to a ring design. Like, I love cats but it seems silly to put a cat on a wedding band... that sort of thing.

Happened to (re)discover this ring over the weekend while looking through the cigar boxes while tidying my closet. I like the idea of repurposing this ring because it's been in my family... sort of. I don't really know its history. It could be my father's, somehow, or it could be something he won playing pool. I really have no idea and there's probably nobody living that knows either.

What would you do? Would it be considered bad luck or bad form to have the ring repurposed for my own wedding band? I know little of such customs.
posted by jzb to Society & Culture (22 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Best answer: I would totally use it and love it! Re-using nice stuff is an important family value for me, and it seems your dad liked to keep stuff around for re-use too :) Sorry for your loss, but if anyone asks I would just say "I inherited it from my dad" and leave it at that.
posted by SaltySalticid at 8:30 AM on July 12, 2021 [25 favorites]

If you inherited it, it's yours to do what you want with. Something my wife and I did was go to a jewellery making workshop and we made our own rings.
posted by parmanparman at 8:32 AM on July 12, 2021 [2 favorites]

Best answer: What does your partner think? If you like it and they don't feel that it's bad luck or somehow not serious enough, then go with it.

If you feel superstitious about it in some way, dunk it in salt water , since that is popularly believed to resolve any lingering bad vibes. (I mean, you don't need to believe that there are actual lingering bad vibes that can be resolved by salt water - just if it's something that nags irrationally at you, you know.)

My family tends to have stuff. We got rid of tons of it over the years, but somehow there's always more. I think that mystery family stuff is just sort of....a treasure trove to draw on. It's a thrill (and a privilege) to be able to go through family boxes and find things. Like, my grandfather was a very gifted yard saler, so I'm not always sure whether something is a knickknack he picked up on road trips with my grandmother in the very early forties or something he bought in suburban Chicago in 1990. My great aunt traveled a lot, so I'm not sure whether some of her stuff was presents that people brought her from abroad or just, well, a trip she took to, like, Bulgaria and didn't see fit to mention to the rest of us. I like to have and use their stuff either way.
posted by Frowner at 8:36 AM on July 12, 2021 [8 favorites]

Oh I'd absolutely use it. It was your dad's, whether or not it was *his* ring.
posted by BlahLaLa at 8:40 AM on July 12, 2021 [8 favorites]

I'd absolutely use it.

(but totally wrong initials..)

Rather than being someone's initials, could it be a phrase (akin to "ILY" for "I Love You")?
posted by NotMyselfRightNow at 8:41 AM on July 12, 2021 [4 favorites]

When I got married, we bought a pair of 20 USD stone rings, 'cause we despise the jewelry industry. (My spouse's grandmother's engagement ring was worn as well, for about five hours. Nobody except their mother noticed or cared.) Personally, I'd happily re-purpose the ring and spend the savings on other aspects of the wedding, unless you or your partner really care about it. Telling custom to fuck off makes a wedding a whole lot more fun.
posted by eotvos at 8:46 AM on July 12, 2021 [4 favorites]

Rings were no less expensive in real terms then than now; people have bought pre-owned jewellery from jewellers and pawn shops for a long long time. Another way of looking at it: what would you do with that ring if you don't repurpose it? Put it back in its box and forget about it? Sell it to someone who has even less of a connection to its past? Do the "cash for gold" thing?

If your partner's fine with it, go right ahead. Get it engraved some more if there's space.
posted by holgate at 9:01 AM on July 12, 2021 [3 favorites]

I would totally use it. But for what it’s worth, I can’t see a men’s wedding band with no stones being “a couple thousand dollars” unless it’s INCREDIBLY fancy materials and craftsmanship. I’d expect that to run you closer to a couple hundred.
posted by showbiz_liz at 9:01 AM on July 12, 2021 [25 favorites]

Also: If you don’t want to get the mysterious initials buffed out but don’t want to feel they’re always referring to some unknown person, you could reverse-engineer a new phrase to fit those letters—something funny or meaningful to you & your partner—to make it feel more your own. (I am confident that folks right here on the green would enjoy helping you come up with such a phrase!)
posted by miles per flower at 9:09 AM on July 12, 2021 [13 favorites]

Use it, as long as your partner is fine with it!

In my experience, unless there is something obviously unique about a man's wedding ring, people just notice it's there. I'd be surprised if anyone asked about a simple gold band.
posted by esoterrica at 9:10 AM on July 12, 2021 [2 favorites]

If I ever get married again I am totally using the rings I already have: two that are mine, and the ones my parents wore. I will use whichever fits best. My spouse could use one of the others if he likes.

And absolutely seconding the idea of making up a phrase (or even a fake relative!) to go with the letters on your ring. I believe in using things, not letting them sit in boxes.
posted by JanetLand at 9:12 AM on July 12, 2021

You can use this ring if you want but fwiw rings don't have to be that expensive. We got a matching pair of plain titanium rings for $80 off Etsy. Your fiancé might have their own ideas about what rings to get & id advise you defer to their wishes. Since wedding rings are a ceremonial item rather than a practical one the choice should honor the ceremonial consideration more than the practical.
posted by bleep at 9:14 AM on July 12, 2021 [3 favorites]

Best answer: I'd reuse it. My engagement ring was an antique I'd bought myself as a teenager and my wedding ring is my mothers one from her marriage to my father which she gave me a few years after I married to replace my $40 walmart one.

Reuse the ring, whoever's it was would probably love the idea of it being used again and jewelry is meant to be worn, not sit in a box.

Side note my husband got a nice and under $100 wedding ring off of Etsy he still wears 12 years later and if a new ring is important to you and actual gold content isn't a big deal, Walmart has them cheap too.
posted by wwax at 9:17 AM on July 12, 2021

My mom gave me the wedding ring from her first marriage (not to my dad) and my husband took it to a jeweler and had the diamond re-set and the gold melted down and reused in a new setting he’d designed for my engagement ring. Superstitious people might find this unlucky but I like that it was a gift from my mother, it’s not supporting the demand for new diamonds, and it was more frugal than a brand new ring would have been. If I were you I’d use it, maybe buff out the initials/dates and have it re-engraved (if you feel weird about that… or just cherish the connection to your dad and leave that in place. It’s a piece of family history!)

My wedding band cost $75 on Amazon and is a plain cobalt chrome comfort band, and it looks great a decade later next to my genuine white gold engagement ring. Most people are never going to ask anything about your wedding band unless it’s visibly unusual. I have fielded only a few questions about my engagement ring over the years and none about the band that I can recall.

All these details feel really important while you’re planning the wedding but once it’s over it will suddenly all seem trivial compared to the actual marriage and enjoying your lives together. Congrats :)
posted by music for skeletons at 9:28 AM on July 12, 2021 [2 favorites]

Maybe not the main thrust of your question, but if you want a cat on your wedding band, then you should have a cat on your wedding band. It’s not silly (I mean, I doubt I’d have the courage to tell a cat that’s it’s silly anyway)
posted by JJZByBffqU at 9:37 AM on July 12, 2021 [3 favorites]

Response by poster: Re: Thousands -- we went to a local jeweler and tried to design a ring I'd like. Sort of like visiting an optometrist "what about this? How about that?" The result was nice enough, but pricey and it didn't speak to me the way I'd expect something to speak to me for that kind of money. I know there are cheaper rings to be had, but appreciate the suggestions!
posted by jzb at 10:12 AM on July 12, 2021 [1 favorite]

Consider that this may just be a random ring that your father found.
I have a mix of jewelry where I don't know if it was a beloved keepsake of my Gran's or just something she found on the sidewalk!
Also I love old rings and jewelry-- and would definitely use it!
posted by calgirl at 10:48 AM on July 12, 2021

Does your spouse have any 'random' gold from their side of the family?

You could recast your ring with theirs - make 2 new rings for the two of you.
posted by porpoise at 11:37 AM on July 12, 2021 [4 favorites]

Best answer: > I would totally use it. But for what it’s worth, I can’t see a men’s wedding band with no stones being “a couple thousand dollars” unless it’s INCREDIBLY fancy materials and craftsmanship. I’d expect that to run you closer to a couple hundred.

The price of gold is running about $1,800 an ounce. Wedding bands are made fairly substantial because the assumption is that they'll be worn every day -- a size 13 in 18K would be more than a half-ounce of gold. So, yep, even a simple "man's" gold wedding band is now at least $1000.
posted by desuetude at 11:52 AM on July 12, 2021

I vote “trade in the random ring to a jeweler to defray the gold cost of a newly-designed ring.” My husband’s very simple gold band cost ~$800 a couple years ago; my much-smaller band was more like $350. As desuetude points out, a size 13 wedding ring has a lot of gold in it.
posted by mskyle at 12:07 PM on July 12, 2021 [1 favorite]

I suspect that if you just use the ring as it is, you'll feel weird about it because you're never going to know for sure if it is or isn't 'special' in the sense of having a family story attached to it. So just go ahead and sell it.

When spouse and I got our bands, we went to a local jeweler with some old gold rings we'd been given by relatives but would never use (some were broken, others in just a weird style). The jeweler explained that it would be pretty expensive and complicated to melt down that exact gold to use in our bands, because old gold has to be cleaned etc. But they were happy to give us money for the old gold that we then put towards the cost of new rings.

If you can afford it, get the ring you like knowing that this might not have any design on it at all. A wedding ring is a symbol on its own, so really doesn't need anything else. But it does matter how it feels on your hand. You'll be wearing it every day for hopefully the rest of your life! So its worth getting something that feels good: which translates into something that fits well, is a nice gold color, and is a shape that comfortable on your fingers (i.e., more curved or more flat).
posted by EllaEm at 1:03 PM on July 12, 2021 [1 favorite]

Best answer: If you and your fiance like this ring and you want to use it, then I say go for it. Would you make you happy to take it to a jeweler to get in cleaned and polished? Maybe you could have your initials inscribed? (Also, could it be that the initials were the bride's, and not the groom's?)
posted by bluedaisy at 5:08 PM on July 12, 2021 [2 favorites]

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