Making our wedding rings in Brighton

One of my favourite things we did to prepare for our wedding was making our own rings.

I first heard about the idea from a friend who had done it on Hatton Garden, the jewellery district in London. As usual, I left it rather late to organise and I thought we’d have to give up the idea. But then I met the lovely Laila from Cross Street Workshops at an ‘alternative wedding fair’ on Brick Lane in April. She had a free slot just 3 weeks before our wedding so I booked it straight away.

Her studio is down in Brighton. It’s a lovely space just off the North Laine, which she shares with a mosaic-maker.

studio 1

studio 2

Here’s what the workbench looks like. Lots of mysterious tools.

workbench
I wasn’t sure how the process would work, but basically you decide on your metal, and Laila then orders it in advance, cut to the right length for your ring size.

We went for white gold bands with a rounded edge – they look like the picture below when they arrive. We paid for the exact cost of the metal (and apparently we chose a good moment to buy it, as the price of gold had just dipped slightly!) and then just the workshop fee on top.

1

The first thing we did was to put the bits of metal in a bath with a mild acid solution to clean off any grime. Then you use a mini blowtorch to heat them up so they’re easier to work with.

3

This bit is fun. The rocks are there to put the metal on as they can absorb the heat.

Next, you get your bits of metal and start rounding them around a long shaping tool called a mandrel. You use a hammer made of hide, which lets you bash away without leaving any marks.

4

After a lot of bashing away, they start to become ring-shaped. Mine is the smaller one on the left, but I was actually making Alex’s larger ring on the right (and he made mine).

6

Then you take them off the mandrel and give them a more gentle bashing on the worktop, to close up the gap you can see above. There’s a special technique to this which Laila taught us. It’s very absorbing.

8

They look like this once you’ve closed up the gap. They’re a little bit oval but you fix that later in the process.

10

The next bit is the most exciting – soldering!

Here’s my ring all wrapped up in metal wire (so it’s easy to move). You paint this sticky glue stuff around the join, then use tweezers to put tiny pieces of white gold metal solder along the gap. Apparently the solder costs more than the solid white gold, but you only use the tiniest bit. It’s the shiny silver square in the photo below.

ring with solder

Then you get to use the blowtorch again. Laila showed us how to ‘paint’ with the flame around the ring, then concentrate the heat on the gap. All of a sudden the solder runs into the gap and totally fills it up, bonding the metal.

14

After that, there’s more filing and shaping to do.

15

18

Alex wanted a classic shiny finish, so I got to use the polisher to make it super reflective.

23

I had a matt finish on my ring, which you just do by rubbing it with some wire wool!

Here’s the finished products:

finished rings

finished rings and us

I’ve never done any jewellery making, and had no idea what to expect, but I loved doing this. Now I really want to take a jewellery making course. It was very satisfying working with the metal and watching it come into shape.

If you’re in the market for a pair of rings, I can only recommend this place. You can find out more about it here.

p.s. all these photos were taken by Laila – you get a disc of them included in the workshop price! Also please excuse my somewhat hungover appearance, it was the day after the By Hand London 1st birthday party…

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20 thoughts on “Making our wedding rings in Brighton

  1. gingermakes September 29, 2013 / 6:12 PM

    WHAT?!?! These look AMAZING, and what fun! I had no idea it was possible to make a wedding band, but that is so special and cool!

  2. Miss Demeanour September 27, 2013 / 8:38 AM

    Oh my I had no idea that you could do this. That’s so lovely and what a wonderful thing to do together 🙂

    xxx

  3. Danielle September 26, 2013 / 10:44 AM

    That is beyond wonderful!

  4. Donna September 24, 2013 / 5:25 PM

    Wow, that is so awesome!! What special memories you have created together 🙂

  5. Elise September 24, 2013 / 12:34 PM

    Ooh i had no idea you could do this, what a cool idea, I love your rings! 🙂

  6. EmSewCrazy September 24, 2013 / 12:57 AM

    That is fabulous! What a special thing to do.

  7. MadeByMeg September 23, 2013 / 9:04 PM

    Wow that’s incredible. So special for you two!

  8. sewlittletime September 23, 2013 / 5:55 PM

    We did this in Hatton Garden before we got married
    Also hungover as we’d been to see the Arctic monkeys the night before. So much fun and one of my favourite wedding planning memories!

    • yesilikethat September 26, 2013 / 8:53 AM

      My friend did it in Hatton Garden too! Funny that you were hungover as well 🙂

  9. sallybeemakes September 23, 2013 / 4:35 PM

    Wow, I had no idea you could do that, such a sweet idea to make each other’s rings. I’ll be adding that to my wedding planning!

  10. soisewedthis September 23, 2013 / 3:42 PM

    wow, that is sooo cool to see the process! and i love that you made his and he made yours =)

  11. Suzie September 23, 2013 / 2:57 PM

    Aw this is fantastic! I had really wanted to do this, but unfortunately when I looked into it, it was out of our budget. 😦

  12. Jenni September 23, 2013 / 2:54 PM

    That is so cool 🙂 adds something extra special I think and you both did such a good job!

  13. Mary Danielson September 23, 2013 / 2:53 PM

    What a lovely idea! I had no clue that this was even a possibility. My dear and I are inscribing each other’s rings ahead of time, but making them adds a whole other level of meaning…and, let’s be honest, looks like a blast. Thanks for sharing such a lovely event!

  14. Leanne Finn-Davis September 23, 2013 / 2:41 PM

    Here I am wanting to get married again, having read your inspiring post. I’m gonna propose to my husband when he get’s in tonight.

  15. Joanne September 23, 2013 / 2:36 PM

    What a unique and amazing thing to do – I’d love to have done that. You’ll always have the story for the grandkids – ooh am getting all tearful now…

    • yesilikethat September 26, 2013 / 8:53 AM

      As long as I don’t lose the ring by then! Ha ha, I am terrible for losing stuff. I never take off my wedding ring though so fingers crossed it will last me forever.

  16. Tamsin W-P September 23, 2013 / 12:46 PM

    What an amazing thing to be able to do, and you made each others rings! Fantastic.

  17. flossiejamieson September 23, 2013 / 12:10 PM

    Brilliant! I went on a one day jewellery course a couple of weeks ago which was bought for by my husband as a birthday present. It’s something I have been keen to do since leaving art college many years ago and I have to say it was a great deal of fun, and so exciting to learn brand new skills and how to use brand new tools. I wish my husband and I had done the wedding ring thing, but now I am slightly addicted to the process of jewellery making, I am determined to go back and make him something else. As well as more jewellery for me!

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