Elaine & Scott: From Gold Panning to Beautiful Bespoke Ethical Wedding Rings
An ethical wedding ring made with real Scottish river gold sounds almost mythical – but it’s real! Jacqueline & Edward were delighted to work with Edinburgh couple Elaine and Scott to create the ethical wedding rings of their dreams. It combines recycled diamonds, treasured family rings and panned river gold in a beautiful heirloom that’s completely unique and personal.
What’s more, the couple panned the Scottish gold themselves. Together with owner Mark, they went on a hilltop panning adventure in rural Scotland to find alluvial gold for their ring. Provenance doesn’t come any more hands-on! The gold panning experience turned out to be amazingly special and also gave them a chance to discuss ideas for the final ring design.
Finding an Ethical Wedding Ring Supplier
Elaine says she and Scott came to Jacqueline & Edward after finding the rings in high street shops too impersonal.
‘We wanted something to go with my engagement ring, which was vintage and had belonged to Scott’s Nana. As we went around the shops, we got more and more of a feeling that the rings we saw weren’t our style, and didn’t fit with our other ethical suppliers and choices for our wedding. I had a pre-loved wedding dress, seed wedding favours, and email instead of printed invitations. We had a celebrant from Agnostic Scotland and got married at Restoration Yard in Dalkeith. We’d put a lot of thought into ethical choices with the ring being the heart of the ceremony, we wanted it to be really special.’
So Scott dug deeper online, and came across Jacqueline & Edward. ‘We were initially drawn to the idea of bespoke ethical wedding rings using recycled gold and gemstones,’ he says. ‘We had an exchange of emails with Jacqueline & Edward and discovered that we could go on a gold panning experience and incorporate found gold in our rings. We really connected to that, as we’re quite adventurous people. I thought it would be a really fun and interesting thing to do.’
Jacqueline & Edward Ethos and Experience
Elaine says she and Scott were also drawn to Jacqueline & Edward’s ethos and experience.
‘The ethics were always really important to us. Jacqueline & Edward use recycled diamonds and gold from old jewellery combined with alluvial gold which is panned by hand from rivers and not mined, so you know the provenance of the gold. They also plant trees for every piece of jewellery that they make. The fact that they’re reusing preloved jewellery and making it into beautiful new pieces that are once again treasured is amazing, and kind of playful, which I love.’
But it was still important to build trust over the ring design, and especially when smelting gold from family rings.
‘My Papa’s signet ring was handed down to me,’ Scott explains. ‘We wanted a ring to fit with Elaine’s engagement ring, which was my Nana’s. We loved the idea of bespoke but it was still a leap to entrust a designer, so the chance to meet up and pan for gold together was perfect. Mark gave us lots of food for thought and talked us through the ethics behind what they were doing. We found out about their history, his background in geology and environmental consultancy, and how he used to go gold panning with his father. It was really interesting to hear about their experience and helped to reassure us about the process.’
Panning for Scottish Wedding Gold
Scott and Elaine didn’t know what to expect when they set out on their panning adventure with Mark. ‘On the day, it was an early start from Edinburgh and took us about an hour to drive to Leadhills,’ says Elaine. ‘The village has a Lead Mining Museum and we met there. We didn’t have to go far and Mark had all the gear we needed. He got us all suited and booted with waders and showed us what to do. Even though we had typical Scottish weather on the day, it didn’t dampen anything for us, as it was a lovely experience.’
‘Yeah, it was really cool,’ says Scott. ‘You start off with tons of material from the river. And then you pan it off until you’ve got hardly anything left. You’ve got a whole bucket that you empty into this pan, and you gradually remove bits. And when you get to the very end, you’ve only got tiny little bits, almost like rubble. The weight of the gold is supposed to keep it at the bottom. So when you get to the very end, there are these little flecks of gold, almost like little stars, in the bottom of the pan. I was asking myself the whole time: “Are we gonna find gold? Are we gonna find gold?” And then we did – wow!’
‘It was exciting,’ agrees Elaine. ‘And then terrifying to make sure we transferred it safely from the pan into Mark’s little vial for making the wedding rings. By the end, there was a bit of competition between me and Scott to see who panned the best and who found the most!’
Collaborating on Bespoke Ring Design
The panning experience was also a good chance for everyone to sift ideas about the ring design and concepts. ‘I love my engagement ring,’ explains Elaine, ‘but it’s not a traditional style, so a straight band wouldn’t work. I wasn’t quite sure what design I wanted, but wanted to make sure that they would look like a pair, and as though they belonged together.’
With a few emails back and forth to firm up the design. ‘Mark was more than accommodating and open to ideas,’ says Elaine. ‘He said they could design a bespoke wedding ring, exactly as I wanted. I decided the kind that I liked and we ordered their moulding pack, so he had a mould and knew the exact shape of my engagement ring. He also saw it while we were panning and said, “Oh, it’s similar to the one that Jacqueline’s got, and it suits pretty much every single ring. I think it will look great!”. So again, it was just a question of a relationship built on trust.’
The Final Wedding Ring Design
The couple finally settled on a chevron-shaped wedding band that has diamonds close together in the front of the ring. ‘They’re all recycled diamonds,’ says Elaine. ‘The gold is a combination of gold that we found while we were panning, and Scott’s Papa’s ring, which Mark melted down into the bar that made both of our rings. So we both have a combination of both.’
Her only concern now is that the ring and its provenance and story are so unique. ‘Of course, no one wants to lose their wedding ring. But then it dawned on me – gosh, it’s so personal and irreplaceable, right? If anything happened, we literally can’t get this ring again!’
Arthur’s Seat Wedding Proposal
Friends and family have also loved the ring and been fascinated that it contains Scottish panned gold – including Elaine and Scott’s four-year-old daughter Bea, who actually had a hand in the proposal. Elaine said that although they lived in Edinburgh, they hadn’t yet managed to go to the top of Arthur’s Seat. ‘So I was on maternity leave and one day Scott decided we would go. We got ourselves organised and our little one strapped to us, and set off and made it to the top.
I was taking photos and Scott was rummaging in his pocket for his phone. He got me to hold his keys and then said: “Bea, what’s that you’ve got there?” She had a card which she showed me, which said, “Will you marry my daddy?” So it wasn’t actually Scott that proposed. It was our daughter!”
‘I’m pretty sure I followed up!’ says Scott. ‘But I really couldn’t get down on one knee, as I had Bea strapped to my chest in a sling!’
Summing Up the Jacqueline & Edward Experience
“It was such a pleasure working with Jacqueline & Edward. Mark was super helpful and helped us make the right decisions on our Wedding Rings. The Gold panning experience was amazing. Actually finding gold that would go into our wedding rings was such a unique thing to do. We both had such a happy memory of the rings before our wedding day.”