What would you do if you lost your sentimental diamond rings that belonged to your late mother, while feeding your horses one evening? Lisa Whiteman almost gave up on finding her rings, until she thought her horse, KiwiKawa, wanted a second dinner, leading her to a bigger discovery.
Words by Lisa Whiteman:
I had been wearing my mother’s set of wedding rings on the middle finger of my right hand for several months, since tragically losing her to Motor Neurone Disease. My mum’s death left me an orphan, a grown woman, an adult, but an orphan none the less. Her rings were the last tangible connection I had with her, and this was incredibly important to me.
One evening, at dusk, the rings were no longer on my finger. I tried to recall when I had last noticed them there. Had they been there before I came out to the shed to mix the horses feed? Had they been there when I was at work that day? Surely, I would have noticed them missing?
The light was fading fast, so I started searching in the feed shed while my husband scanned the paddock with a torch. I ran my hand through the bags of horse chaff, haylage and pellets, my heart sinking further by the minute as I realised how hopeless the search was. I was literally searching for a needle in a haystack.
Despondent, I joined my husband’s search in the horse paddock, not willing to give up my last shred of hope but knowing the chance of ever seeing my mum’s rings again was wafer thin. It was hopeless. As we turned towards the gate I was gently nudged by my mare, KiwiKawa.
She nudged me and wandered off. There was nothing unusual in that except she is not usually interested in human company after she has a full belly from her evening meal. I watched her as she walked a few steps and stopped, turned, walked back and nudged me again. Now, I was paying attention. What did she want? What was she trying to tell me? To find out, I followed at her side.
Kiwi led me to her feed bucket, and thinking her still hungry I said, ‘No, you’ve had your dinner’. She dipped her head into her bucket, then out and looked at me. ‘What?’, I asked. She repeated the same action again. Thankfully, she is a patient horse, while I am an incredibly slow human.
As I reached into her bucket and felt the last remnants of her meal around the edges, Kiwi waited. I ran my hand around the base of the feed bin and suddenly felt something hard. My heart started to race as I lifted the item, while at the same time brushing away damp, chopped horse feed. And, there they were, my mum’s rings, slightly worse for wear, one broken, all three squashed, but all accounted for. I threw my arms around my amazing mare’s neck and started to cry.
So, this is the story of the rings. They were chewed and spat out by Kiwi, and she needed me to know they were there. She found my needle in a haystack!
My new rings, so expertly designed and crafted by Ben at The Village Goldsmith are a new creation, they are the combination of my wedding rings and my mums wedding rings set into an infinity circle of life, with a nod to finding a needle in a haystack.
With heartfelt thanks and gratitude to my mum, my mare KiwiKawa, my husband Dean, and to Ben for making it all come together so beautifully.
After hearing Lisa’s story, one can imagine having diamond rings chewed and spat out by a horse would leave them beyond repair, but of course this is no issue for The Village Goldsmith team of master jewellers. While challenging nonetheless, designing and remodelling Lisa’s rings proved to be a very enjoyable project for our craftsman Ben.
To begin the remodelling process, Ben met with Lisa and together they brainstormed a variety of potential design ideas for her rings. For her new ring designs, Lisa wanted to incorporate the story of losing her rings and searching through a ’haystack’ to find them. Lisa liked the idea of the diamonds being somewhat ‘scattered’ throughout the new design, which in a way represent her rings being scattered throughout KiwiKawa’s feed (the haystack, if you will) within her story. The design forms an abstract infinity symbol, representing the ongoing circle of life of Lisa’s mother’s rings being passed down to Lisa, then being lost and found again by Lisa’s horse.
Once Lisa had chosen her favourite design out of the three concepts, a refined sketch was developed, and Ben began working on the project.
Ben’s first step was to remove the diamonds from their settings and separate the white gold from the yellow gold so he could melt down the yellow gold. As illustrated in the final sketch, the new settings for the diamonds would be crafted from platinum, and the yellow gold from the original rings would form the ring’s bands.
To melt gold, a very hot flame of at least 1,064°C is fired directly at the rings as they sit in a ‘melting pot’ known as a crucible. Once the gold has been melted into a hot liquid, it is poured down a channel attached to the crucible. The gold sets almost immediately, forming an ingot.
Once the yellow gold from Lisa’s rings had been melted down, Ben pressed the ingot through the roller to form a long and flat band which could be used for crafting Lisa’s new rings. After shaping the new platinum design piece that would form the setting, Ben started cutting, shaping and filing the yellow gold band to form the ring’s shanks.
After the base of the rings had been crafted, it was time to set the diamonds back into the new ring designs. The finishing steps of filing and polishing ensured the ring's completion, and they were ready to be presented to Lisa.
As these four rings were of so much value and importance to Lisa, having had them passed down from her late mother, it was an absolute honour to be given the opportunity of this remodelling project. We take the utmost care within our workshop, especially when handling and remodelling jewellery that means so much to our clients. To then present our customers with a final product of such quality craftsmanship, which encompasses so many memories for them is a special privilege.
"I am delighted with my rings. They are truly more gorgeous than I had even imagined."
At The Village Goldsmith we believe capturing stories and crafting memories is the true meaning and purpose of jewellery. If you are looking to have your jewellery remodelled, or wish to undertake a custom jewellery project, please do not hesitate to get in touch with us. We would love to guide you through such a special and meaningful journey.