Wedding rings have been around for centuries, and humans have been marrying for even longer. In the United States the end of World War II saw a great spike in marriage rates beginning in 1945. According to the National Center for Health Statistics, the rates peaked around 1947-1948 and declined, with smaller peaks, all during the 50s. In America, wedding and engagement rings were and are the norm, and the demand for them also spiked.
What also increased after World War II was the number of double ring ceremonies, where both bride and groom exchange rings. Before, only the groom would put the ring on the bride’s finger. Ironically, this increase took place during a time of war related shortages and rationing; like most metals at that time, gold, excellent for use in scientific and electronic instruments and the traditional metal for wedding bands, was needed for the war effort. During the Korean War (1950-1953) the number of double ring ceremonies increased to 70%. Thus, the demand and production of rings, one for the man and one for the woman, was even greater than in the ‘40s. Some men, however, prefer to wear the ring only during the ceremony, and then remove it.
The wedding ring of the 50s followed the pattern of wedding rings of other eras: a band of metal, usually gold, worn in the West on the left ring finger. The vein in this finger is claimed by tradition to lead directly to the heart.
According to conventional etiquette, the bride’s family pays for the rings and any engraving.
From 1934 to around 1968 the price of a troy ounce of gold was fixed at $35.00.
As now, the price of a 1950s wedding ring varied depending on the quality of both the gold and the craftsmanship.
During the 50s the work of the goldsmith was more expensive than now and sales/marketing campaigns took much longer, though the competition among ringmakers was not as intense. Yet, due to the huge difference in the cost of material, the profitability per piece of jewelry was enormous; an average simple wedding band (with no stone) that weighed about 5 grams would cost about $80-$100.
Now, due to inflation, a simple gold wedding band from then could easily cost from $260 on up, depending on the craftsmanship, whether it’s set with precious stones, and who the previous owner was. The wedding ring of Princess Grace, married in 1956, would probably cost more if it was ever put up for sale than the ring of the average person’s average mother who was married in the same year.
Where To Find Them
Wedding rings from the 1950s can be bought from online vintage jewelry sites, at estate sales or at auctions. To authenticate the date of the ring, one might look for possible hallmarks or maker’s marks, though these might be hard to find in an ordinary wedding ring.