The welding world is full of horror stories about accidents involving wedding rings. The one I heard from the instructor in a community college welding class ended in the words, “peeled off his skin like a glove.” I’ll spare you the details; you can find as many stories as you can stomach all over the Internet. Though I don’t do much welding, the possibility of getting hurt while wrenching because of my wedding band has always been in the back of my head. Well, for as long as I’ve been married.
It turns out that my nascent fear wasn’t unfounded; losing your ring finger is a risk for any of us who work with our hands. While you’re busy not searching for welding accidents, you also shouldn’t search for images of ring avulsion either. A minor accident or slip while wearing a wedding band can have severe consequences. One doctor writes: “It is difficult for patients to understand how otherwise inconsequential stumbles or movements can result in the damage or loss of a digit when a ring is involved.”
That’s how I ended up trying a silicone wedding band in place of the tungsten carbide one I’ve been wearing for years.
Disclaimer: Recon Rings sent me a black ring from their inventory for free to try out.
I never liked the idea of a gold wedding band; too expensive, too traditional for my taste. I thought titanium’s lightness wouldn’t be satisfying. Platinum prices are absurd. The low cost, durability and substantial heft of a tungsten band seemed like the right choice. I got one on Amazon for about $30.
I didn’t know at the time that the finish on tungsten rings didn’t stand up particularly well against automotive chemicals—specifically brake cleaner. The finish became dull and splotchy before long. Tungsten being a very hard metal, it also tends to put marks on softer metals like aluminum, so I’d always take it off while working on sensitive surfaces—and often lose it, because my memory is awful. Just like my dad.
That was all before I knew silicone was even an option.
Recon Rings is a new company based out of the Rochester, New York area. One of its founders is Stephen Burke, half of the two-man team that campaigned a Mitsubishi Galant VR4 as well as an Evo X in One Lap of America. His co-founder is a veteran who watched his friend lose a finger in Iraq just from getting his ring finger stuck in the door of a LAV.
Rather than the traditional ring box, they provide a really cool flat display case made from trees and branches that fall near Stephen’s property in upstate New York. It’s a unique bit of packaging that has a great story behind it, which I encourage you to read. It also saves on shipping costs because it can fit in an envelope. The rings themselves are not currently made in the US; they’re working to secure a domestic supplier by the end of 2017.
They suggest sizing it so it fits snug, and it’ll stretch to perfect over a week or two. For me, it was only a couple of days. I decided to test its real-world comfort while replacing upper strut mounts on my Subaru Justy project car. My daughter wanted to work on her lawnmower at the same time. Our projects have similar horsepower figures.
I didn’t expect how much I’d appreciate the light weight and flexibility of the silicone ring. It doesn’t clang against tools or car parts; it doesn’t mar finishes, ding shafts or nick paint. I haven’t taken it off for hand-washing, doing dishes, taking showers, or at bedtime. So far it seems to hold up well against brake fluid, brake cleaner and general under-car schmutz. It’s never at risk of slipping off like my tungsten band was, and it essentially disappears from sensation most of the time.
I hadn’t realized how the weight of the tungsten wedding band had come to feel burdensome over time.
That’s not a metaphor for my marriage.
Hi, hon. Thanks for always reading my stories.
I’m keeping my old tungsten ring on my dresser. I tell myself that maybe I’ll wear it on fancy outings, but I probably won’t. I like the matte black finish on this one, and I’ve always been a sucker for function over form. Since this isn’t made of metal, it won’t pinch your hand if it gets smashed, won’t pull at your soft tissues if you get it caught on something, and in general makes a ring-related injury (like Jimmy Fallon suffered just falling down in his kitchen) much less likely. And flying slag won’t weld itself to it.
My wife liked the ring I got, so I bought her one as a birthday present. She’s been taking on a lot of home projects and her wedding band is starting to get beat up. She’s much more likely to wear her original gold band for nice outings, but she’s been using her Recon Ring essentially all the time. Hers took a bit longer to stretch to a comfortable fit than mine.
To be clear, Recon Rings is not the only company out there making silicone wedding bands, but they might be the most modestly-priced of the bunch. And they have a pretty good story. If you’re not a strict traditionalist in terms of style and you frequently work with your hands, a silicone wedding band is a good way to go.