Last week I got engaged. I had intended to find an engagement ring based on what I had gathered about Kat's taste in such things. So I walked around a large number of jewelers looking for something fairly specific, and failed utterly to find anything compelling. It seems that if you are looking for an engagement ring that isn't a diamond, then options are a little limited. I was apprently left with the option of picking something I wasn't sure about, or letting on and getting Kat to help pick. I had planned to put the ring in a streptohedron box that I was making. So I hit upon the idea of just turning a wooden ring, with which to propose. Of course it would be far too fragile to be a permenant engagement ring, but it would be much more personal than just buying the best of an uninspiring lot. So I hit upon a whole new category of ring, the 'proposal ring'. This way we could go shopping for an engagement ring together, and get something perfect, whilst still letting me propose as a surprise.
I knew I'd need to use a dense grained wood to hold such a tight small shape. I considered using ebony as it is close grained, but it tends to be feature less, and can wind up looking a little plasticy. In the end I found i had some laburnum left from a previous project. It was well aged and the two tones were particularly contrasting and made for a nice featured wood, even on something so small.
I actually ended up making two rings, the first one was too small. I was trying to get a good guess of finger size, and didn't take account of how much wider the base of a finger is to the tip. Obviously when turning I could only test the diameter with the tip of a finger. In any case I had enough wood left to try again.
Here is the ring having had the initial shaping. You can see it is very thin, and I was reasonably concerned that a tiny slip and I'd easily break it.
I finished it as much as I could like this, then turned it off and made a jam chuck point to remount it on so that I could finish the other side, again I was concerned that I needed the fit to be tight enough to hold the ring, but too tight and it could easily break the ring. Here it is carefully remouted with kitchen roll to give atighter fit without too much pressure.
and finally here are a couple of pictures of the finished ring.
You can see the nice two colour effect adds interest to the ring, rather than it just being a plain band.
It obviously had the desired effect, as she said yes :-). When we went looking for engagement rings together she found all the same ones I had considered, and similalrly found they weren't quiet compelling enough. So we have gone to a bespoke jeweller to work on some designs. Yes I could have gone this route alone, and tried to get something right. But this way we'll get something perfect, and the proposal will always have been with a ring that I made.