One man reportedly spent over a year panning for gold in the Scottish Highlands so that he could make wedding rings for both himself and his fiancé. That’s dedication for you. If you don’t fancy facing the elements to pan enough of the shiny stuff to forge your rings, but you do want to get creative and give making your own rings a go, goldsmith Mark Fenn, can help.
“There’s such a difference in the narrative of a ring when its not been mass produced for the high street. A hand-made ring is authentic, honest and has a clean start.”Mark FennMark runs one-day wedding ring workshops where couples can visit his studio in Whitstable, Kent, and make their very own wedding rings.
It’s an attractive offering. A day out by the sea in a town famous for its oysters, where you can get creative with your partner in the name of love, and walk away with two self-crafted wedding bands that you will both wear and treasure together. What’s not to love?
“Exactly”, says Mark, “It’s a far cry from my old job in finance in Hackney. I actually started doing night classes in Silversmithing as a stress relief to my day job and loved it so much that I went on to train at London Metropolitan University and then University of Creative Arts where I earned my BA Hons in Silversmithing, Goldsmithing and Jewellery Making.
“I won a Goldsmiths design award for my Salt and Pepper Shakers,” explains Mark (a photo of these features on his website), “and have had my work shown at Christies, National Trust Properties and The Silversmithing Museum in Denmark. I also curate online exhibitions for CRAFTHAUS.”
Crafting Your Own Story
People also are getting more interested in the bespoke, one-off designs.Inspired by narrative jewellery – pieces that has a story attached to it, Mark likes to focus on people’s individual stories and the how they relate to their own jewellery, and reflects this in his work.
He moved from London to Whitstable to start his own business and now works from his studio at the end of the garden of his 1930s bungalow. It sounds pretty idyllic.
“Whitstable is an old fashioned seaside town, with lots of local creative talent. It’s just an hour from London and so close to the beach. All you can hear from the studio is the chatter of the garden birds and the occasional train. Couples that come here to make their wedding rings always seem to love the peace here, and many go for a walk along the beach before travelling back home.”
Mark began running jewellery making workshops from his studio and recently launched a bespoke wedding ring day.
“I loved the idea of couples making their rings together, the process, the story they would attach to making their own rings, the shared experienced. I think people also are getting more interested in the bespoke, one-off designs and are genuinely interested how things are made and who made them.
My clients love getting a hands-on experience, making their own ring and not just buying a mass produced product from the high street. There’s such a difference in terms of the narrative. A hand-made ring is authentic, honest and has a clean start. No piece will be exactly the same, When couples make their partner’s ring, they know that it bears their hammer strikes, their polish moves, their energy – it’s a really personal thing, and, most importantly, it is made with love.”
You don’t need any experience to make your own wedding rings – with Mark by your side helping you get it just right so that the end result is of a quality and professional standard.
Mark’s one-day wedding ring workshops run from 9.30pm-5.30pm and cost £250 plus materials (silver, gold, carat etc, costs for which are agreed in advance). The workshops include tuition, a light lunch and a glass of fizz. Lunch is served in the kitchen where Mark makes his own bread, biscuits and cakes and chocolates, and if the weather is good you can sit outside and enjoy tea and cake under the wisteria.
Most couples finish their rings by the end of the day, but those wanting hallmarking or jewels incorporated will need to be finished off by Mark and sent to you later.
An initial one-hour consultation is needed before the workshop for Mark to measure your ring fingers and discuss your ideas and design options so that he can send you a quotation to cover the workshop itself, the materials and any extras such as hallmarking and engraving.
Enjoy 10% (£25) off the cost of the workshop when you quote The Gay Wedding Guide.
Images: Photos show Karen and Becks making their wedding rings at the Mark Fenn Studio, Whitstable. Images copyright of Mark Fenn Studio.