I don’t do rings – or so I thought. I’m prone to losing things, and I’m just not into sparkly, shiny jewellery. I like things that are quirky, unique, that tell a story. I like the idea of something simpler, more natural, but still reflecting the powerful and personal meaning of a wedding ring.
On a trip to Cornwall, I came across a wood turner at the local community market. I asked him if he could make rings out of certain woods, ones that were significant to me and my family? He said yes, he could – but that it might be tricky.
He was hesitant, after some rings he had made in the past turned out to be too delicate to withstand daily wear. In the end, he made me something beautiful, from four different woods that were meaningful to my family, but with the caveat that it probably wouldn’t last very long.
Natural and durable
One solution is encasing the wood in metal. A Brighton company, Wedding Rings Direct, has teamed up with a Cornish designer to address the issues of making wooden rings a viable alternative to traditional magpie-targets.
“Wood tells a story”, says their marketing manager, Kate Rivera. “The wood comes from Cornish boat masts, trees in the designer’s garden and even mahogany from the Eden Project. The wood in the yew rings comes from his grandma’s garden!”
Most people go for oak, but pretty much any wood will work. They use recycled metals and match the metal colour and tone to the wood. If you do want a bit of bling, you can get a little diamond or something embedded in the wood, too.
You do have to look after it a little bit. “You have to care for it more than a plain platinum ring. You shouldn’t really wear it for hard labour. The wood will flex or contract a tiny bit, and it’s a good idea to use some oil to moisturise and hydrate it. However, most of the time the natural oils in your skin will help with that too.”
The whole thing I like about natural rings is the idea that they’ll change over your lifetime. As Kate says, “rings are sometimes the last thing people think about, but they’re the longest term part of your wedding”. Every ring tells its own story, and this continues with time; the wood will shift and change according to your lifestyle.
While the wooden rings will be an evolving symbol of your lives together, a different kind of storytelling ring can crystallise forever a couple of life-changing seconds – the moment you say ‘I do”.
Sakurako Shimizu, a Japanese artist and jewellery designer based in New York, has made ‘waves’ with her beautiful rings presenting the soundwave pattern of your voice saying a certain phrase. It doesn’t have to be ‘I do’ – any words can be recorded and captured – but that has obviously been a popular one with her clients. Again, the gold and precious metals are recycled (she even made the test rings by melting down gold rings belonging to her mother).
When it comes to a ring telling a meaningful story, however, it doesn’t get better than this. To propose to his girlfriend, Luke Jerram designed an engagement ring with grooves etched onto the surface, same as a vinyl record. When he played it on a miniature record player (in a hot air balloon, no less), it revealed a 20 second recording of his proposal: “Shelina, I’ll love you forever. Marry Me!…Shelina, I’ll love you forever. Marry Me!”
He did something even better for the wedding ring, designed to incorporate a tiny photo projector so that, when held to the light, a series of portraits are revealed. He made miniature photo slides, inserted into the edge of the ring.
But before you ask, it’s not for sale. Apparently, Luke gets lots of enquiries for commissions but he wants to keep the design unique for his wife. Now there’s romantic…