Wednesday, 31 July 2019

DIY WEDDING | How to make your own wedding rings in Bristol

With just two days to go until our wedding, I should definitely be panicking now and not writing a blog post. Let's just say this is a cathartic and soothing distraction from the mayhem around us, as I talk you through the absolutely brilliant experience we had a few weeks back making our own wedding rings.

We hadn't planned to. One evening we found ourselves absentmindedly searching the internet for 'wedding rings Bristol' to see what our options might be. Emily Gliddon's site came up, where she describes a half-day wedding ring workshop for you and your betrothed to get hands-on and make them yourself.

In. Real. Life.

With some reservations in our minds (would we end up with scratchy old misshapen rings that we'd then be too polite to complain about?), we booked. From the information on her website, Emily was clearly very experienced and professional, and we were happy to be led by her.

First things first, we had to choose the metal and the shape beforehand so that Emily could order our supplies. I went for a rose gold D-shape while Mike picked a yellow gold D-shape - he hasn't been married before and said that when he pictures a wedding ring he thinks of his dad's which was this style. Sweet. My choice was the simplest possible option (in contrast to my ridiculous disco rock of an engagement ring). Much as I love ostentatious jewellery, I'd always admired the plain band worn by Nigella Lawson - her choice of ring perhaps better than her choice of recent husbands.

When we arrived at Emily's studio on the day, there were our strips of raw gold. How on earth were we going to get anything resembling a wedding ring out of these pieces of metal? Emily's beautiful studio was a calming environment that was packed with all the tools of the trade - so much to look at.

We began by re-measuring our fingers and cutting the gold down a little (Emily actually used Pi to figure this measurement out, debunking my theory that we'd never need to use that kind of geometry in everyday life!). We used hacksaws to file the metal down, leaving actual gold dust in the little petticoats under the workbench.

Mike Goldsmith: Living up to his surname

The cut end then had to be filed, before we used the massive scary blowtorch to anneal the metal (technical term for making the gold more workable) and then placed the sooty strip into a bowlful of 'pickle'.

Next, we used a leather hammer and a ring mould to bang the strip into a 'C' shape, and then round into a ring. The join had to be super tight so a bit more hacksaw action was required. Once this seam was seamless, we applied solder and heated it until it collapsed and bled into the gap (this was the bit that felt most like magic). More pickle.

Once clean and dry, it was easy to see how much solder remained on the surface of the ring and we used increasingly fine files and sandpaper to rub it down and smooth it all out. The whole process took a few hours as we took it slow, drank tea, chatted to Emily and generally had a really brilliant time.

The final stage was using the massive polishing machines to buff it up to the shiniest bright gold you could imagine. Neither of us could quite believe how perfect the final rings looked, and we felt such an amazing sense of achievement at having done this ourselves. The one thing we couldn't do was to inscribe the rings so Emily sent them off to be engraved with a personal message with meaning for us both.

Oh, and the gold cut-offs? Emily offered to make these into a couple of pairs of earrings and worked so quickly that we had a pair of rose gold studs and yellow gold hammered discs to take home (the studs for me and the discs for 10-year-old Florence). It was the loveliest touch and made good use of the leftover metal - I love the thought of there being connections between us all through this.

So if you're after wedding rings with a difference, I can really recommend making them yourselves. I'm sure there are plenty of jewellers across the country and beyond who offer a similar service, but if you're in Bristol then give Emily a shout. It's just such an enjoyable, fun and bonding experience.

The details:

Emily Gliddon wedding ring workshop - £195 (materials/engraving are an additional cost)
Not sponsored or subsidised in any way, we paid for everything ourselves.
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