At the beginning of last year I was contacted by Chris, who was looking to start designing the perfect ring for his partner Leah. Like many modern couples, Leah and Chris had discussed wanting to get married, and Leah pointed Chris in my direction to help design and make her ring. I had met Leah a number of years earlier through my husband’s work, and was honoured that she had chosen me to work on such a special piece.

Chris had quite a good idea of the style and design he wanted to achieve, so after exchanging a few emails and ideas, I begun the hunt for the right diamond. A few weeks later, I contacted Chris to show him the range of diamonds I’d been able to source – from ovals, pear shaped, and marquise. At this stage, Chris decided to let Leah in on the process, so we could all work together to produce exactly what she wanted.

Once meeting with both Leah and Chris to show them the diamond selection, it became clear that Leah wanted something more contemporary that would also stand the test of time in terms of style. She was also really keen on having a ring that was as ethical as possible – this led us to discuss ensuring the diamond was traceable and ethical, along with the metal.

After deciding on the ethics of the materials, I started up the search again for the right diamond. This time I found the one – a whopping 0.70ct ethically produced round diamond! Leah and Chris gave the go ahead, and we began working on the details of the design through exchanging photos, sketches and emails.

In the early stages, when Chris got in touch, we discuss budget and what was possible. Like many projects, after being shown what’s possible for the budget in terms of sourcing stones etc. Chris decided to up the budget to ensure Leah got the ring of her dreams.

Once we had the diamond, I began to design and make the ring to work with the proportions of the central ethical diamond. Working closely with Leah I produced a number of ring shanks, to help show her the varying proportions and how this effected the overall look of the ring. Leah wanted a chunky, modern ring, combining both white and yellow gold – but it was important to get the proportions right, so not to overshadow the size and beauty of the diamond. Once this important element was agreed on from working with the silver models, a wax rub-over setting was produced as well. Having a silver model, and a wax setting, it enabled me to show Leah the stages of the design as they evolved, and how it was all coming together. After a few minor tweaks, it was ready to be cast into Fairtrade gold.

The samples were moulded up and the ring was cast – the shank was cast into Fairtrade 18ct white gold, and the setting was cast into Fairtrade 18ct yellow gold. It was then assembled and soldered together ready for hallmarking and setting. All the gold was ethically sourced through the Fairtrade system and was traceable right back to the mine in Peru.

Once cast in gold, and assembled Leah tried on the unfinished ring for size before it was off to hallmarking, and the diamond was set. After a final polish and rhodium plating of the white gold section, the ring was ready. Chris collected the finished ring, ready to surprise Leah whilst out walking their two gorgeous dogs Coco and Shelby. She of course said YES!

This was a great commission to be asked to work on. It gave lots of challenges in terms of sourcing and scale of design but I’m really pleased with the result, and even more pleased that Leah loves her ring.

Working as ethically as possible became part of my future mission when I rebranded last year. After learning the ugly truths about where some materials come from in my trade, made me really self-aware that I didn’t want to design beautiful things that have an ugly past, and that I didn’t want to earn a living from the misfortune of others. It hasn’t been the easiest path, working ethically, but the more I do, the more I learn, the easier it gets and the change will come. It’s also really great to be able to inform my customers not only how I made their design, but where the materials have come from, and that it has been responsibly produced.

Read Leah & Chris, Chapter Two to find out more. . .

“I can’t recommend Louise at Vaessen Walker highly enough. From the initial designs of an engagement ring to finalizing wedding rings, Louise has been helpful with great design advice and suggestions, continually keeping us in the loop as to whats going on with photos and emails as our rings were being made. Louise shares our commitment to sustainability and being environmentally conscious, and it meant a lot to us that Louise was able to source fairtrade gold for our wedding and engagement rings. An eternity band will be the next excuse to use Louise’s exemplary services all over again!”

Leah & Chris