When Britain's Prince William presented his fiancee, Kate Middleton, with a blue sapphire ring surrounded with diamonds last November, he didn't realize Kate wouldn't be alone in saying “I do.” In fact, though uncounted throngs of women “do want” the $45,000 ring which had formerly belonged to the late Princess Diana, they're settling for replicas priced as low as 3 yuan (about 45 cents).
Of course, for under a buck you'll get something that superficially resembles the royal engagement ring – from a distance – and is made from acrylic plastic and metallic alloys. Better quality rings featuring zircon stones set in silver-plated copper sell for around 50 yuan ($7.56).
Chinese jewelery manufacturers like Zhou Mingwang knew there would be strong demand for replica royal engagement rings. “When they announced their engagement,” stated Zhou, “it was just by chance that I saw their ring on the internet. I felt that this had a great commemorative value and thought there was a good market for the product.”
Rings sold at popular online sites such as Taobao and Alibaba aren't exact copies of the ring Kate Middleton is flaunting, however. “If the original ring has fourteen indentations,” explains Zhou Mingwang, “we can change it to be ten or four. So we made slight modifications in order to tackle this problem so that there are no trademark issues.”
As one might expect, a cornucopia of Royal Wedding memorabilia has or is about to hit store shelves in the leadup to the April 29th, 2011 wedding – and beyond. Says Fu Xuxian, owner of the Yiwu Unnar Jewelery factory, “I feel that memorabilia associated with the royal family should be able to sell well in the long term.” To that end, Fu's factory is churning out wedding memorabilia replicas like mugs, cups, plates, mini teddy bears and key chains prominently featuring the soon-to-be wed royal couple.
It's replica rings that have really seized the public's imagination, however. According to Zhou Mingyang, replica rings were being ordered by customers in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Western European countries – and, of course, China.
Wearing a replica royal engagement ring won't make you a princess-to-be, but one can at least relive this moment in Kate Middleton's life vicariously... until your own prince comes along. (via People's Daily Online, Views To News, and Lovelyish)