Japanese and Scottish River Gold Engagement Ring
Every now and then, Jacqueline & Edward get the opportunity to work with someone who wants to go beyond unique design, beyond handmade and into creating a one of a kind luxury engagement ring made from pure alluvial gold. This was our favourite engagement ring of 2020 and was made using an alloy of pure Scottish gold, pure Japanese gold and gold found by our Client in the wilds of Scotland. Nothing else was added to the metal.
We talk about ethical diamonds throughout our website and as a company have settled on using recycled diamonds and lab grown diamonds in our handmade engagement rings. However, this Client had an interesting ethical standpoint reaching into the deep history of the recycled diamond and wanted confirmation, as much as is possible, as to the origin of the diamond itself. He wanted it to be artisanally mined so as to gain confidence that it was mined within minimal environmental effect. He also wanted to be as sure as possible it was never a blood diamond. As such, Jacqueline & Edward introduced him to Old Cut European diamonds, which were mined many years ago, before blood diamonds even existed and were mined in small numbers, by hand and then hand cut in Antwerp. Perfect. Recycled, ethical, artisanally mined in their origin and each one completely unique because it is cut by hand.
There are different degrees of handmade, which are discussed in more detail within this buyers guide to fully handmade, and like all our handmade wedding and engagement rings, this piece was no exception. There was no casting, no buying in of component parts like the shank and setting, no outsourcing. Every element of the ring from start to finish was done by hand. First the alloy was melted before being poured into an open channel in delft clay to make a basic ingot. The single ingot in the central picture above made the entire ring. The ingot was then rolled out, annealing where necessary to form the component parts of the ring, namely the shank and supporting structure inside the setting.
Rolling was not enough to create the exact form needed, so the ends of the ingot were flattened to allow the width and depth of the ingot to be fashioned into the form of the ring. This was done with a humble hammer, working the ends of the ingot over time and annealing again where necessary to keep the metal malleable, yet retaining a work hardened end point to assist with durability. You can see the shape of the setting starting to take shape in the last image above.
The ends of the flattened shank have now become the setting after being crossed over and soldered. You can also see the wire in the picture on the left having been turned up to create the seat for the diamond centre stone. The other two diamonds are suspension set into the walls of the setting to create maximum visibility of these diamonds from the side. You can see the centre stone sitting pretty in it’s seat on the right hand picture. Diamonds are dropped in and taken out countless times as the piece is created to make sure each component is exactly where it needs to be. Final form with its gentle curves were carved by hand using metal working file.
The centre diamond needed additional support and a frame within which to shine, so hand drawn wire was created from the last of the wire created in the rolling mill from a cut end of the initial ingot. This wire is normally bought by handmade artists, but in our workshop it is drawn by hand using a drawplate, the good old fashioned way. This allowed us to create the wire from the same gold resulting in a perfect colour match and keeping true to our 100% natural river gold commission. You can see the finished piece on the right following final setting.
The piece actually got even more crazy because we set tiny diamonds in the sides of the setting in the same geometrical pattern as locations in the world which were important to the couple. As the final icing we actually set some aquamarine into the underside of the shank. This worldwide history from Japan to Brazil was captured in the materials and form of this totally unique handmade ethical engagement ring.
At Jacqueline & Edward we can make your engagement ring to literally any specification, no matter how wild. For us, we LOVE the challenge, so get in touch if you want to discuss any potential bespoke commissions using natural alluvial river gold, or any ethical metal for that matter.
“I spent a long time looking for an ethical ring designer, comparing different artists and their ethos. I am so delighted that I settled on Jacqueline & Edward and could not be happier with the end result.
Mark was an absolute pleasure to work with and was fantastic at navigating me through the process of designing an engagement ring. We started off gold panning in a river in Scotland, near the Leadhills, where we got the opportunity to get to know each other and discuss my priorities and his process. I was blown away by Mark’s passion and knowledge for gold and how much care and attention he put into every aspect of the process. Whilst panning it was clear that his environmental and ethical principles were true principles and something that he truly lived by. Carefully ensuring that when we were panning there was minimal impact to the river and nature around us.
Once we had found our gold we started the long process of the ring design and sourcing the remaining materials. Mark was an absolute Saint and I cannot thank him enough for putting up with all my changes, questions and demands through the process. He sourced river gold from Japan, New Zealand and Scotland ensuring the ring was 100% hand panned (countries that were important to us). We talked through different ethical diamond options and when I wasn’t happy with those presented he immediately went back to work to find a suitable solution. We settled on Old European Cut diamonds which are absolutely stunning. Mark also sourced aquamarine from Brazil to add another bit of meaning for my partner.
Designing the ring from scratch was a daunting process as I had no idea what I was doing. Mark was very patient and slowly talked through and sketched ideas until I had exactly what I wanted. Some of his concepts were very unique. One that we incorporated was placing 5 small diamonds, geometrically, to represent the 5 countries my partner had lived in. I know that if I had gone anywhere else to great a ring would not have ended up with something so unique, beautiful and ethically sound. And above all my, now, fiancé absolutely loves it!
We will be using Mark again for our wedding rings and I couldn’t recommend Jacqueline & Edward enough to anyone!”