Wedding rings: Can they survive a long marriage?

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Susan Spencer Adrien, owner of Spencer's Jewelry, is seen with engagement rings/remount rings Wednesday, May 9, 2012, at 805 W. Jefferson St. in Shorewood. | Matthew Grotto~Sun-Times Media

Breakout

Breakout text.

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During my wedding, I promised to stick with my husband “until death do us part.”

The marriage is great, but after 25 years, my wedding ring is disintegrating. The trouble started a couple of years ago when I signed up for a power fitness class. Pressing the hard steel of a dumbbell against soft gold of a wedding ring is not a good idea, I have learned. The gold thinned and finally cracked.

My ring trouble planted a seed in my brain: Maybe I should get a new ring? Guilt quickly followed the thought. But the seed sprouted.

The Black Hills gold band with the lonely diamond I picked out as a 20-something isn’t what I would pick out today.

As it turns out, I am far from alone in my longing for a new ring with a bit more sparkle. Many women trade in and/or trade up, said Susan Spencer Adrien, a third-generation owner of Spencer’s Jewelry in Shorewood.

Adrien said she urges customers to give serious thought to their options before they take the plunge.

“I don’t want someone to make a decision they’re going to regret,” she said.

I am not alone in no longer feeling an affinity to gold, she said. White gold and platinum rings are more popular than yellow gold.

Adrien showed me a ring she had just made for a customer that used the woman’s original engagement diamond and added diamonds from her mother’s ring. It was stunning.

I stopped at Newstar Jewelers in Joliet for some extra ring “research.” Owner Ellen Haarke confirmed that many women transfer diamonds from old wedding sets to new ones, or they trade them in to start from scratch.

She said halo settings, where one mama diamond is surrounded by a ring of babies, particularly are popular.

Haarke said more women switch rings now because many of them are working and have more disposable income to be able to afford it.

“Or their husband has given his blessing,” she said.

I met nurse Susan Haas of Shorewood last week when I popped into Newstar. She had worn a simple gold band for 38 years of marriage because of her job. But when she inherited a 1.5 carat diamond from her husband’s aunt, she decided to go for it.

Newstar designed a new setting for the big rock and Haas loves it.

“I’m really, really, really enjoying it,” she said with a big smile on her face. “I know my husband’s aunt would be so thrilled that I’m enjoying it.”

Haas did admit she kind of misses her simple band of gold.

“It was like your badge of honor,” she said. “All those years and it stuck by you.”

If there is any guilt, “You get over it,” said Theresa Murphy, Newstar’s master bench jeweler.

So far, my ring finger remains naked. But soon I might replace my something old with something new. I definitely plan to follow Adrien’s advice and think things through, however.

“This is one of the most sentimental and emotional purchases you’re going to make ever in your life,” she wisely counseled. “It doesn’t matter the size. The meaning is indescribable.”