This is the story of a truly bespoke, one-of-a-kind engagement ring. Every bespoke piece has its own story, but this recent commission was particularly unique, and so I'd like to share some of the process from design to completion with you here. I hope you enjoy it!
John came to me with a stone, a few ideas, an open mind and a full heart. He wanted an engagement ring for his beloved that was dramatic and impressive but not showy, with just the right balance of clean lines tempered with a little ruggedness.
John already had a diamond that he had sourced himself - a large, natural, beautifully proportioned octahedron crystal with a rich, glossy sheen and a deep charcoal grey colour.
Most diamonds that are seen in jewellery have been cut and polished to bring out the best of their sparkle, shine and colour, but rough diamonds are used in their natural state, with no polishing or cutting. They have a magic of their own, and often have an intense, metallic lustre which is beautifully understated, I'm a real fan. They can be found in a huge variety of shapes and colours, often greys and golds in all different shades, and there really are no two the same.
After lots of email communication, exchanges of ideas and a video call, I made a few drawings - all variations on a similar shape and style, but with different settings to mount the stone. In the end, this was the design John went for, knowing that it was the perfect style for his soon-to-be fiancee. I like to think that it's fuss-free, slightly industrial in feel but with a slight softness to balance out the robust shape.
It was to be created in 18 carat white gold which has a beautifully rich depth of colour - a little dark, I always think a little edgy, totally different from the creamy warmth of 9 carat white gold (which is also beautiful, but in a very different way) - and would be the perfect pairing with the deep, metallic grey of the diamond.
This project was slightly unusual in that I made the designs and even began the initial prototype before I actually had the stone to work with. I made sketches based on an image and the dimensions of the diamond that I was given, and I had a good idea of how it would all need to come together to create the piece that we were aiming for, but I knew that there would need to be a small number of tweaks so I created a working prototype in copper and silver to act as a model and a trial run for the real thing.
When I eventually got the stone to the workshop and was able to see in real life and in 3D how it needed to fit into the body of the ring, then the real work began! The shank was to be shaped in order to raise the profile of the setting and to allow room for the large stone to sit comfortably on the finger, and the setting itself was to be an intricately complex component to make as it needed to mirror exactly all of the subtle irregularities in the stone. The diamond was to sit snugly in its setting, supported underneath by a specially shaped seat that needed to be carved out of the solid gold using a variety of small files, burrs and abrasives, with constant checking to see how the stone was sitting.
Below you can see a close-up of the beautiful punched hallmarks. Alongside the SRS, which is called the sponsors mark (no two sponsors marks at the assay office are the same, by law), you can see a crown, the traditional symbol for gold; the 750 refers to the metal fineness of 18 carat, 750 parts out of 1000 is pure gold; the castle represents Edinburgh assay office; and the lower-case w is this years date letter. Each mark is less than 1mm high and is struck by hand, it's an art in itself.
And finally, the ring is complete and this is what we created! 18 carat white gold, rough diamond, every element hand-built at my workbench to fit perfectly. It was the greatest joy, thank you John and Sarah, congratulations to you both!