GN Focus | Valentine's Day

Unique wedding and engagement rings

From bands inlaid with dinosaur remains to those that spark flames, designers are creating concept pieces that are truly one of a kind

  • By Shalini Seth | Specialist Writer
  • Published: 00:22 February 5, 2014
  • GN Focus

  • Image Credit: Supplied
  • Bona fide designs: Johan Rust’s rings are inlaid with rare materials such as dinosaur bone and meteorite
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A poet once called a ring a relationship worn on your fingers. If rings could talk — and we are not referring to inscriptions here — we’ve come across a few that could tell stories of their bearers. One, with granite inlaid into wood by the UK-based Eco Wood Rings, tells you of the rock climbing couple’s favourite route. Another, made by Japanese artist and designer Sakurako Shimizu, cuts the waveform of a couple’s voice in metal. German designer Thomas Giesen won a Red Dot design award for translating the contours of people’s profiles into metal.

While diamonds say, I love you forever, quite adequately, many couples opt for rings that uniquely celebrate their relationship. One British couple reportedly had a ring made from a culture of their bone cells grown on a circular scaffold.

Designers are finding new ways of celebrating love. Industrial designer Ken Goldman has created Spark, a pair of his-and-hers rings with flint set in sterling silver, which can be struck to literally spark a flame. For the geeks among us, a matching set comes with a pair of male and female cable Ethernet plugs. More geek chic is a concept by designer Jennifer Flume who has created the USB Engagement Ring in partnership with Swarovski. The USB stick is capped by crystals that come in a variety of cuts and sizes.

For couples with a conscience, wedding planners list a whole host of suppliers that make it their business to source ethical products, including gold and diamonds.

Shimizu, for instance, says that 100 per cent recycled gold and precious metals are used for the rings she makes. “This test piece was made with some gold rings from my mother. I melted them,” she writes in a blog post.

Eco Wood Rings creates handcrafted rings carved from salvaged and sustainably-grown wood. While they have standard designs, they can work with materials of your choice.

“Most of our orders are either for couples or for someone getting ready for a proposal. Very few of our requests are made by the intended wearer. More than half of our orders are for custom rings, with customer choosing woods and inlay materials that are particularly symbolic to them,” Steve Sutherland, Founder, Eco Wood Rings, tells GN Focus.

Inlays can be made of anything from shells to granite, diamonds or pearls. He cites an example of a customer from Australia whose partner’s ancestors came from the Isle of Wight off the south coast of England. “He asked us to source some wood from there and we managed to get hold of some Opepi Teak from the old pier at Ryde. This wood is more than 200 years old and was walked on by Queen Victoria herself,” he says.

The requests are far from clichéd and, to a visitor from another planet, could show the many dimensions of love. “A rock climber from Australia recently sent us some granite from a favourite climbing route. We also had a palaeontologist who supplied us with some Tyrannosaurus rex bone to inlay into a ring,” says Sutherland, who counts among his customers a couple from Dubai.

US designer Johan Rust makes rings with materials that include meteorite, dinosaur bone, deer antler and animals’ ashes. He also claims to have set a human tooth into a ring once, on special request.

“We’ve put everything from granite a customer provided to antler and ashes into our rings,” he writes in a blog post.

Regardless of where they are based or who orders them, these rings remind couples of the unique aspects of their love. Giesen says that it is customary for his customers to shed some tears when they see their favourite person’s contours in metal.

“So far I have made around 1,000 Contura rings for people in eight different countries,” the designer tells GN Focus.

While costs for standard designs are specified, custom rings can cost a lot. Cliccmi, Giesen’s new Red Dot winner, costs anywhere between €65 (about Dh325) up to €3,600. It is made of high-quality Plexiglas and a ball fashioned from either a matte or polished gemstone. The rings and balls can be exchanged and combined.

Eco Wood Rings’ standard designs range from £190 (about Dh1,155) for the The Apple Tree ring to £400 for the Love is Now design.

Waveform I do rings cost anywhere between $560 (about Dh2,056) to more than $2,000, depending on the material.

“Of course our custom designs can cost more than this depending on the materials used and the complexity of the design,” says Sutherland. The most expensive Contura ring Giesen has made costs $55,000.

Made to measure

For a customised Contura ring send a 300dpi profile photograph with white background, along with ring size, width and your favourite material. Designer Thomas Giesen will send back an estimate within 24 hours. The ring will be with you within two to four weeks, depending on the material.

For Waveform wedding rings, designer Sakurako Shimizu says on her website that any words and phrases can be recorded (not necessarily I do). Once you send in the order, Shimizu will instruct on how to record your voice.

With Eco Wood Rings, you can even send in your own piece of wood. A piece of wood measuring 30cmx5cmx5cm is enough to craft a ring. However, if you don’t have that much wood or any other material available, it can still be incorporated into the inlay of the ring.

Like those taking orders via email, Designer Johan Rust places great emphasis on sizing your rings well and even gives you tips on how to find out your partner’s ring size without their knowledge.

GN Focus