Personal Finance FAQ

One Ring to Rule Them All
One ring!

“One Ring to rule them all, One Ring to find them,
One Ring to bring them all and in the darkness bind them.”
–J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings

I recently lost my wedding ring. I had it one night at a networking event in Dallas. The next morning I worked out and left my ring (I thought) on the nightstand, since I don’t wear my ring to the gym.

Then, a day or so later, when we were going somewhere, it was nowhere to be seen.

I searched high and low for it, emptying drawers, looking under the bed, checking the crack between the carpet and the baseboards. You name it, I checked.

It went to the land of lost socks. It’s frolicking with all of those single socks that disappeared from your dryer.

Either that, or it’s in the bottom of the river waiting for Gollum to find it.

In either case, it’s not on my finger, where it should be.

When I first bought the ring and what would become my wife’s wedding ring, I sort of hovered around the typical rules of thumb for how much to spend on wedding rings.

I say sort of. I didn’t have a job. I was a full time student. Therefore, I had no income, so it wasn’t really possible to buy a ring based on earnings. But, I was about to be an intern at an Atlanta law firm, so I spent about 1/12 of what I was going to earn that summer.

While I liked my ring just fine, it wasn’t particularly spectacular or meaningful.

It was symbolic.

Nothing more.

I did feel weird going without a ring when I went out in public, but otherwise, not having one didn’t change anything fundamental about me.

So, when I bought a replacement ring, I got one that was significantly less than what I paid for my original ring.

It looks good. It’s not fancy or ornate, but I don’t need fancy or ornate.

I need something that conveys one message, and this ring succeeds in conveying that message just as well as any other ring would.

I spent several hundred dollars (actually, I know exactly how much I spent on my original ring) on my first wedding ring, money that I, at the time, didn’t have. Even then, I got a relatively pared down version of a wedding ring. I’m not a jewelry guy. I don’t even wear my West Point class ring, which is a relative rarity; Army people know what the term “ring knocker” means – West Point grads and their enormous class rings that they knock on tables.

But, looking back, I spent too much. There are many things that define what your marriage is and how successful it will be.

Your love for your spouse is not defined by how much you spent on one piece of symbolic jewelry.

This time, I got something much more understated. I spent enough; I spent what I needed to do to get the job done. Spending ten times as much would not make me any better of a husband or demonstrate my love ten times as much.

If you’re defining your love through a ring, you have your priorities wrong.

If you like this ring and want something similar, I ordered mine through Shelli Hoggarth Designs.

Have you tried to keep up with the Joneses and overspent for something that was simply symbolic? Let’s talk about it in the comments below!


Jason Hull, CFP®, was the co-founder of Broadtree Partners, a firm that acquires $1-5MM EBITDA companies. He also was the co-founder of open source search consultancy OpenSource Connections, a premier Solr and ElasticSearch firm. He and his wife FIREd (financial independence retire early) at 46 and 45, respectively. He has a BS from the United States Military Academy at West Point and a MBA from the University of Virginia Darden Graduate School of Business.

You can read more about him in the About Page.

6 replies on “One Ring to Rule Them All”

OMG – YES!! I may be the only female on the planet who doesn’t want an engagement ring – I personally find them to be a huge waste of money. I don’t judge someone’s love and devotion to me by the size of the rock they put on my finger, but by all the other actions that make up our relationship. Don’t get me wrong, I would like a very lovely, meaningful, and perhaps custom wedding band, but it would cost far less (thousands less) than a huge diamond. I’d rather use that money for an awesome vacation!

A ring is just a symbol, but it can be meaningful depending on how you look at it. The meaning can come from the memories you form while wearing the ring. Of course, the memories are the valuable item, not the jewelry. And you also need not a fancy ring in order to have it be a part of those memories.

I lost my wedding ring a few months into the marriage. Too much fiddling, and uncomfortable with the feeling of wearing a ring. I replaced with another one just like it, a simple 18K band. Haven’t lost it since, 20 years later. Lesson well learned. Symbolic it may be, but new brides may hold *quite* differing opinions.

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