I have been married since 1993, and I am still committed to making my marriage work. Wearing my wedding band is one easy and tangible way to communicate instantly and effectively to those I meet that my commitment to my wife (Renee) is still one of my highest priorities. Unfortunately, my wedding band recently took me out to the woodshed and beat my bottom.
Before I tell you exactly what happened, let me give you a little background about myself... I get my hands dirty. If there is an axe or a chainsaw or an engine that needs adjustment.... I jump in and get involved. I have always been that way.
I also live an extremely active lifestyle. I played (and play) competitive sports at a high level. For 12 years I was Camp Director at an outdoor adventure camp (actually a short term mission agency for church youth groups) in middle Tennessee. (Adventure/Serve Ministries is still going strong) I would switch roles and responsibilities quickly, but most of those roles were very hands on and active. I could be lead carpenter on the construction of a cabin or leading a ropes course initiative, then working on our fleet of vehicles, then teaching a group of staff how to belay or set up rock climbing and rappelling anchors. For the past 5 years I have been getting my hands dirty by running a solar photovoltaic business called SimpleEnergyWorks. We sell, design and install residential and commercial PV systems. Again, a profession that keeps me working with my hands all day... every day.
Now, I have worn my wedding band almost constantly for over 20 years. Every time I would do any dangerous stuff I would call a "Time Out" to take off my wedding band and continue on with the activity. Normally, I would clip it to a caribeener on my keychain for safe-keeping. Sometimes I would misplace it and become frantic until I had tracked down where my ring got to. I can remember multiple times climbing a rock face and then having to clip in mid-climb to remove my ring before I would continue.
Unfortunately, my ring finger was jammed playing basketball, so the joint on my wedding band finger is slightly enlarged. This made removing my wedding band very difficult. To take it off was a 3-minute ordeal (no exaggeration) in which I would sometimes have to resort to dish-soap to help with the removal. Because the removal process was such a pain, I just started to wear my ring continuously, even during activities which could be considered dangerous. To have the ring re-sized was a hassle I didn't even want to consider as the ring still fit my finger (just not my knuckle).
So, fast-forward a bit and I am at a playground playing tag with my 3 youngest children. I grabbed a railing to help myself swing quickly around a sharp corner and as I let go of the railing.... the railing did not let go of my ring. I was moving pretty quickly... otherwise I would have been tagged. Well... when you have 195 pounds of rapidly moving manflesh abruptly brought to an instant standstill by one ring... I think the image looked like I was holding onto the back railing of a train and hanging straight out like a flapping flag.
My ring was buried up inside the flesh all the way up to the first knuckle. Fortunately, if you make a tightly clenched fist in this scenario the bleeding is minimized. I was fortunate that the ring never made it past that first knuckle (my enlarged knuckle probably saved an even more traumatic outcome).
I knew the ring had to be removed before the injury could be treated.... but the ring was up inside the flesh and then there was the large knuckle beyond that. Clearly we needed to cut the ring off. I made it to my workshop and went to work (with one hand) to remove the ring. My older boys and some of their friends came out to help with the ring removal.
We tried bolt cutters (a bad idea as it twists and puts leverage on the ring).
We tried electrician dykes (a bad idea because it can't get far enough up inside the ring).
Finally we were successful in removing the ring using a dremel cut off tool (which worked OK, other than the fact that it heated up the ring to very high temperatures which caused us to have to keep waiting for the band to cool down).
Once the ring had been cut completely through we still could not remove the ring. We had to physically bend both sides of the ring until the opening was large enough for the finger to come out. You say, "gold should bend easily"...not so much. We eventually used a screwdriver to pry the opening apart enough to grab both sides of it with two wrenches to finally open up the ring and remove my finger.
After deep cleaning the partial de-gloving my doctor gave me 3 stitches in the meat on the inside of the finger and 5 stitches on the outside. The ring actually cut a tendon which rolled up on the inside of my palm (I now have a small bulge in the middle of my palm). Talking with the surgeon exploring possible repair procedures, he was under the impression that we should leave it well enough alone. I still don't (and never will) have complete mobility in my ring or pinky finger (to which the tendon connected), but the surgical options didn't promise much potential improvement. (So now I am permanently damaged goods).
I began considering what I should do for a wedding band.... I wanted one that was safe and still showed my commitment to my wife. Friends were telling me about tattoo wedding rings and other such stuff. That is when I realized a wedding band which was designed from the beginning as a safe alternative to metal rings is something that is desperately needed in the market.
After working through several designs and materials we settled on using premium medical grade silicone because of it's properties. This stuff will break away at about 40 pounds of pressure (well below where a de-gloving will occur), but is tough and durable enough to last for years. At the same time, the medical grade silicone is hypo-allergenic and non-toxic. The flexibility of the ring also allows it to work well for people who have enlarged joints (as I did) or have temporary fluctuating ring sizes (ie. a pregnant mother).
These rings work well in that they also protect your formal jewelry. Not all of life is formal, and in my case, MOST of my life was informal and very hands-on. My gold wedding band could have set safely at the house until those occasions when a formal wedding band makes sense (weddings, high tea, etc.). But the rest of the time I would have been showing my commitment to my marriage while remaining SAFE during my most extreme activities (or just playing "tag" on the playground with your children).
Travel and Trekking while wearing formal jewelry can even put you in danger of getting robbed. Do an online search for the term ring degloving and you will find images that will make a billy goat puke.
Metal rings have been banned in most industrial factories and by electricians and tradesmen and firemen and military because they know the ACTUAL DANGERS of a metal ring are NOT trivial, nor are these types of injuries rare or uncommon. Metal rings will not break away to protect you. Your finger will break away every time.
Unfortunately, in searching for an inexpensive/informal wedding ring, many have moved in exactly the wrong direction...Getting a stronger, tougher ring! Titanium, Stainless Steel and Tungsten Carbide rings are for some reason becoming popular as a "tougher" alternative to the formal Gold and Platinum. That makes no sense at all. These tougher rings will only do MORE damage to your finger in an accident... and they will be HARDER TO REMOVE in the case of an injury.
All of our rings are truly designed with YOUR SAFETY as the top priority. It is now easy to show that you are fully committed to your spouse, and at the same time.... you are perfectly safe doing any type of high performance outdoor activity. Your marriage commitment shouldn't slow you down by making you second guess the safety of each activity before deciding if you need to call a "time-out" so that you can remove your ring before getting back in the game. You are always committed, as well.... these rings can be always on and showing that commitment.
We are constantly testing out new styles and options for safe wedding bands. We will be rolling out new versions shortly. Feel free to contact us about any ideas that you would like to see in a safe wedding band.