Today is a very special day. Today is the 5th Wedding Anniversary of two beautiful souls, Diana & Sione, they are truly two of the nicest and coolest people you could ever meet.
An anniversary is an exciting time, but I’m especially excited because now I get to show you the remodelled wedding rings I created for them to celebrate the occasion!
It’s always nice being contacted out of the blue by old friends, and it’s a wonderful feeling to be contacted out of the blue and asked to be involved in the making of your friends wedding anniversary gifts to one another. That’s what happened a couple of months back. Diana & Sione had seen my facetted wedding rings on Instagram and were inspired to remodel their own bands, Sione especially, as his was a few sizes too large so he never wore it for fear of loosing it.
There was nothing really wrong with the rings (aside from the sizing issue) and as always happens with rings, the rhodium plating had long ago worn away. Essentially they just felt that the rings were a bit boring and didn’t really represent their personalities. So we consulted in my workshop and came up with fresh new designs for each ring that would truly capture their individuality. And from there they entrusted me to bring the designs to life. To begin, I had to melt the old rings…
I’ve always loved fire, staring into the open fireplace in winter and fire-twirling on the beach in summer… There’s just something magical about how the flames move and the smoke curls up into the air. So there’s no surprise really that melting gold is one of my favourite things to do. I especially love the burst of green and blue flames that happens when I add the refining powder… I feel like a magician.
We designed Diana’s new ring to taper up at the top in thickness and follow the shape of her engagement and diamond set wedding rings. We also decided to increase the width of the ring so I had to add extra white gold to the melt mix.
After melting, the gold had to be forged, annealed and rolled.
. Sione’s ring, pictured below, was a pretty chunky ring to begin with so no extra gold was needed for his design.
As with Diana’s ring, Si’s had to be forged, annealed and rolled into a nice gold bar before the shaping began.
The two gold rings, melted down into white gold bars in the early stages of being re-created.
The tapered shape begins to form even before I bend the ring into shape. A few calculations and a bit of extra muscle on the rolling mill at the beginning reduces the amount of filing and gold waste at the end. The process of hand making jewellery is quite methodical; Anneal the metal to soften it and then work the metal to shape, compress and harden it. I repeat these steps over and over until the ring is formed and there is not a shimmer of light that can be seen through the join. It’s at this point that I solder the ring and the texturing begins.
As you can see from the images of the process above, Diana’s ring came together nicely… however the process of Sione’s ring was quite a different story…
Many jewellers would have carved these designs in wax and cast them in gold… but not me. I love a good hand making challenge. Not that there’s anything wrong with casting metal, many of my designs lend themselves to the lost wax casting method, but I feel that if a design can be hand made, then it should be hand made. You see, the process of hand making jewellery compresses the gold into its hardest most dense form, making the ring more durable and hardy, ready to withstand the knocks and bumps of its future long life. Its cast version would be slightly lighter as it hasn’t had the compression and hardening that comes with forging the gold into shape and there is a higher potential for flaws on the surface or lurking below the surface of cast metal as the casting method itself often creates porosity.
But beyond that, there’s just something really special about using my hands to create something so meaningful. I feel honoured to be the person who strikes every hammer blow against the gold to shape it into the ring that will be worn and loved for years to come.
So when we were consulting over the design of Sione’s ring, the mad part of my brain informed me that it had a theory of how to hand make it. I trusted my mad brain…
So in theory I could hand make the ring no problem. In fact, the sterling silver version I whipped up to test the theory confirmed it could be done. However, 18 carat white gold is a much heavier and harder material to bend, especially with my small frame and lack of muscles. So I had to get inventive and creative in order to make the gold bend in the ways that I needed it to.
I used the same concept of rolling and tapering the metal into shape as I had done with Diana’s ring, only this time, it wasn’t quite so straight forward and simple.
There were a few moments there where I was a bit panicked that the whole concept might not work, where I had an argument with that mad part of my brain that had convinced me this could be done… But a few experiments later (and possibly a few swear words) I had the ends of the metal finally touching.
Once I joined the ends together, I had a solid ring which admittedly at the start was nowhere near round like a ring should be… but after annealing and hammering, annealing and hammering, annealing and hammering …many MANY times over, I beat the gold into submission and got the shape that I required.
Sione’s ring was the hardest ring I’ve ever had to shape… but I got there in the end and I high fived the mad part of my brain (or was that a face palm from earlier…? I can’t remember now)
But once into shape, the relief was felt and there was only filing and finishing left to do.
One of the lovely things about Di and Si’s ring designs was that they matched in a way that allowed each ring to have individuality and personality whilst referencing and complementing the other ring via the texture and facets. Matching doesn’t always mean exactly the same… I thought about this concept as I filed away at each ring, how a marriage should be like that, two people, unique and amazing on their own, and a complement to each other when together.
Si had requested an “industrial” type of texture for the finish of his ring, so after filing the facets I played around with a variety of different diamond burs, grinding stones and texturing tools until I found the one that worked best. All that was left to do was have them engraved with initials and the wedding date, white rhodium plate Di’s and black ruthenium plate Si’s and the rings were complete.
Because the rings were Di and Si’s fifth anniversary gift to each other and traditionally the 5th anniversary calls for wood, I sought out a beautiful wooden ring box. I also got a bit excited and got them flowers and some Ole Smoky Moonshine just to be a little bit different, and of course because it comes in a hipster jar and is Apple Pie flavoured… mmmmmmm
After Di and Si arrived and fell completely in love with their new rings I sent them off to brunch while I gave Diana’s other rings a touch up polish and rhodium plate. The entire set of rings, old and new, worked so well together.
Happy Anniversary Diana & Sione!!
If you have a significant anniversary coming up and would like to celebrate in a similar way, please get in touch with me and together we can design something that expresses your unique personality and style as a couple.