Gay wedding rings: Bringing fresh style to the tired old band

My wife is convinced that the trouble with weddings lies in the fact that most women plan them when they are eight years old. At the age of eight, my wife's logic states, the average little girl is engaged in Disney princess mode, a world where flounces and meringue reign supreme and the prince's identity is of secondary importance.

Over the years, most people grow out of that stage, but the ideal wedding remains stuck in early childhood, like a satin-covered mosquito encased in amber. When the little girl grows up and plans her big day, she foists her childhood vision onto a moderately resentful fiancee, who salves his wounds with the tired truism that real men don't like to get involved in wedding planning. Meanwhile, the guests snicker and place bets on how long the marriage will last.

In 2004, when Massachusetts legalized gay marriage, my first prediction was that weddings would, most likely, become a lot more tasteful. After all, while flounces and meringue might have worked for sleeping beauty, they lack a certain sophistication. I assumed that, as weddings went through their next evolution, a fresh perspective would have to develop. Now, four years later, I can't really comment on the full breadth of wedding paraphernalia, but there certainly is ample evidence that gay marriage has led to a serious reconsideration of men's wedding rings. The standard gold or platinum ring, while a powerful reflection of the bonds of matrimony, is also a somewhat trite symbol for a rich emotional relationship. Clearly, the man of today requires something a little more...resplendent.Recently, my wife and I visited Provincetown, Massachusetts. Perched on the far end of Cape Cod, the resort town has long been noted for its gay-friendly attitude; since 2004, it has become a noted destination for same-sex marriages. With this in mind, we wandered into Tumbleweed Designs, a jewelry store that specializes in commitment and wedding bands. Looking over their selection of beautiful, bold rings, I got a feeling for how same-sex marriage has made it more acceptable for men to express their love of beauty through hand jewelry.

Wild Patterns: Mokume Gane
Mokume Gane is a process for bonding and folding thin layers of precious metals; originally used to manufacture beautiful, flexible Samurai swords, it has been in use since the late 1600's. Within the last few years, however, artisans like Jim Binnion and Michael Daniels have begun using the ancient technique to produce beautiful, one-of-a-kind rings that are intensely masculine, yet intricate and beautiful. Some of the designs look like leopard spots, and others resemble lightning, but all all of them have a natural, flowing look that is reminiscent of sedimentary rock or water-worn pebbles.

Cool Durability: Titanium
Although titanium is widely used in commercial applications, it has only recently found its way into the jewelry store. An incredibly strong, lightweight element, it is not particularly beautiful, but is amazingly durable. In fact, its incredible strength allows it to be used in designs where lighter-weight materials would fail. Tumbleweed, for example, has several rings in which unset jewels seem to be clenched precariously in titanium bands. Other metals, such as gold or platinum, could not allow this sort of configuration, as they would bend and stretch, releasing the jewels. The titanium, because of its incredible strength, enables these amazingly delicate settings.

Rugged Tradition: Knot Patterns
My wife's choice for my wedding ring featured a Celtic knot pattern entwined with a Scottish-themed thistle. While knot patterns are extremely old, they have gained increased relevance in the last few years as more and more men have opted to feature them on wedding rings. Like some of the other ring choices, knots reflect both a rugged durability and a mysterious beauty. More important, they also symbolize the everlasting bond that underlies marriage!

Bruce Watson is a freelance writer, blogger, and all-around cheapskate. While he's not the world's biggest fan of hand jewelry, he'd give a finger for a mokume gane ring!
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