Record gold prices spur wedding ring alternatives

By Kay Nolan,  August 25, 2011

Army Spc. Marco Negron of Highland Park, Ill., wears a wedding band made of tungsten so that – unlike the gold ring from his previous marriage – it won’t get banged up no matter how rugged his duties.

Elizabeth Dobbs, a biologist in Madison, Wis., and her fiancé are shopping for a ring set with laboratory-made simulated diamonds so she can enjoy her sparkler without wondering if human rights were compromised in the production of her ring.

Wedding jewelry has acquired a decidedly post-recession luster. With incomes low and precious metal prices stratospheric – gold prices closed at a record $1,509 an ounce on Monday – some couples can no longer afford to go the traditional route. And it’s no longer a given that couples exchange inexpensive rings and then save up for real gold and diamonds. Instead, today’s trend is toward individual expression, along with a backlash against mining practices seen as exploiting human labor and the earth.