Made to tarnish: the beautiful copper ring that wears as it's worn

June 13, 2015

Made to tarnish: the beautiful copper ring that wears as it's worn

The concept of jewelry telling a story or marking a life event is at the very heart of what we do.

But one of the more unique and challenging requests we've had was to create a piece of jewelry that would continue to grow and change long after it had been built – one that would almost live its own life, ageing with the wearer.

Stones, colors and engravings are all great ways to represent someone's personality, and they often form the basis of engagement rings that we make. But what about the metal itself?

When we were asked specifically if we could design an emerald solitaire engagement ring on a copper band, we had as many questions as we did answers. It's rare for a ring to be made with copper. The metal oxidizes when in contact with skin, wearing down the metal and often staining the skin green.

But this customer knew exactly what he wanted – and he was well versed in copper's traits, because it had been significant to his life and his relationship long before he reached out to us. His girlfriend had a real fondness for copper, a fascination with the way that it ages. And her intrigue in this rugged metal was not just about a change of colour, but the way it wears down and visibly erodes in the way nothing else does.

Given that this was the kind of woman who noticed these subtleties that others wouldn't stop to appreciate, he was determined to entwine them in the most important ring she'd ever receive. This would not only offer her something she truly loved, and had openly marvelled at, but would help to represent her as a person and symbolize the way she embraces change.

We know how difficult it is for men to choose an engagement ring, to find something that will really represent their other half. Most normally opt for stones, colours and engravings that beam out their partner's personality. But this was the first time someone had looked to a metal as the basis of capturing this. He felt so strongly in bringing this concept to life, that didn't give up on finding a jeweller to make it for him – and having bore the brunt of several rejections, he'd even resorted to trying to make the ring himself, destroying his coffee table in the process.

When he found us, we saw it as an exciting challenge – and a privilege. It hit the very same notes that inspired us to begin doing what we do. We did ask if he'd like the ring made in red gold instead, which would have given a similar look without the risk of oxidizing. But it was clear he'd been searching far and wide for someone to identify with this concept and, enamoured with it ourselves, we were excited to take it on.

Of course, there was still the issue of her finger turning green. So we settled on a hybrid ring, one with 18k gold on the inside and copper on the outside. This way, the ring would still age, but its skin contact would be minimal.

In the center of the ring we proposed a bold green 8mm Colombian emerald, and soon we were working on images and wax models that we could send for the customer's approval. It took a couple of months to discuss his options further and work through the details but the end result was exactly what he'd hoped for and what he'd proposed originally, after we'd suggested a hybrid ring.

He was delighted with the resulting ring, and it gave him a thirst for future projects. “I could not have imagined a more perfect creation,” he said. “Thank you so much for designing this ring with me. The little lady absolutely loves it!”

This engagement ring, with its copper band, was made to fade. It was to represent life itself. In much the same way as a relationship evolves and matures, it would be a constant reminder of the ever-changing nature of life. It would represent more than just the couple's love, but their experiences, their joys, their struggles and their frailties, and how all of these elements would shape them over time.

Aged copper jewelry isn't a unique concept, and some people look into homemade patina methods which can quickly give copper jewelry an 'aged' look. But with this project, we created something that would naturally display the long path it had taken, changing over time in a way we couldn't completely predict. And it's another example of the potential custom jewelry has in representing not only a unique connection between two people, but also the very nature of life itself.

What we love most about our job is having the privilege not just to create challenging pieces of jewelry, but to do so with real events and real stories lying behind them. We get a lot of satisfaction from delivering something that holds a wonderful story, and is just what our customer had in mind. When a particularly unusual or special challenge, like this, greets us, we get even more satisfaction from completing the project, contributing to the customer's story and leaving them feeling over the moon.

And this is why we remember each and every customer, even years later. Their stories stay with us, and we just have to share them.

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