- Olivia Parker
Ethical goldsmiths sprinkling golden magic amongst the wedding sector!
If you head up north, as far as West Yorkshire, to the wondrous little market town of Wetherby, you’ll come by a workshop with husband-and-wife team Mark and Jacqui Bell, at the helm…
The story of Jacqueline & Edward begins back in 1985 with a boy and his father exploring the beautiful British land and rivers in search of whatever adventure life had to offer. One fateful trip they crossed the Kildonan Bridge in the north of Scotland in their old campervan when Edward spotted an old timer hunched over the river with a Stetson on his head and something in his hands. Tasked to find out what he was doing, Mark went to speak with the bearded, grey-haired man only to find out he was a gold prospector and the thing in his hands was a gold pan. The van was immediately put into park and didn’t move for the next two weeks whilst father and son learnt the ways of the river and the treasure it held. I guess you could say the rest is history!
Whilst panning for gold became Mark and his father’s main pastime, Edward would never realise quite the effect he had on his son and that this hobby would in fact turn into his vocation and raison d’etre in life and a legacy which he could pass on to the next generation.
After a childhood of hunting for gold, Mark went on to study for a degree in Environmental Geology and a master’s degree in environmental Geochemistry before becoming an Environmental consultant. This path refined his environmental viewpoint whilst spending his days spent investigating, assessing and remediating contaminated land, most enjoyably within projects associated with land damaged by historical mining activities.
Fast forward some thirty years, and what was the making of his childhood and chosen career, now forms the crux of his family-run business based in the beautiful sleepy West Yorkshire town of Wetherby. With his wife Jacqueline, goldsmith Mark creates handmade wedding rings with eco-friendly recycled precious metals and sustainably panned alluvial river gold.
In recent times, the couple have forged their way in wedding and engagement ring design.
Mark's ethical engagement and wedding rings are all made from eco-friendly recycled precious metals and sustainably panned alluvial river gold. Likewise, where diamonds feature, they are ethically sourced, with Jacqueline & Edward favouring lab-grown and recycled diamonds as the ethical choice. Furthermore, for every purchase made, a native tree is planted in the Caledonian Forest.
Whilst some Clients choose simply to buy from their existing range of designs within their online store at www.jaquelineandedward.com, others choose a more bespoke service which starts with an initial conversation about what the couple are looking for in their rings. Design ideas are passed backwards and forwards, often accompanied by hand-drawn sketches, before the design is finalised and the rings handcrafted by Mark in his home workshop. Some couples seek to take the experience one step further and head out into the wilderness with Mark who offers a Pan Your Wedding Ring Experience.
This unique and unforgettable experience is a whole new take on choosing a wedding ring! It’s an opportunity for a couple to literally go out and pan for their own gold which will then be alloyed with ethical recycled gold and transformed into their wedding rings. This is offered either as a shared experience with other couples or an exclusive experience for couples on their own. Both rings are made from the same molten bead of gold making them chemically inseparable, which provides a romantic reflection of two people coming together as one partnership. As with all the rings Mark makes, he is also always happy to gift a little gold from his family collection into the rings and often has gold from areas which connect with peoples’ ancestral roots whether they hail from Yorkshire, Devon or as far afield as Italy and Sweden. What could be more personal and romantic?
Whilst Jacqueline & Edward work on many bespoke commissions (including leading couples on wedding ring gold panning experiences in Scotland and Ireland), they also have a small collection available to buy on their website.
New to the collection this year, is Mokume Gane, a 17 th century Japanese metalwork technique whereby different metals are fused together and worked to create unique designs. When translated Mokume Gane means “Wood Metal” and describes the wood grain effect which is the result of this art form.
The mixed metal rings are handmade from sustainable alluvial river gold, ethically sourced 18ct recycled gold and eco silver and make for a totally unique piece to cherish for many years to come.
No concept too extraordinary, Mark has worked on creating jewellery based on treasures clients have cherished over time such as a metamorphic mineral which a client found on a beach as a child, along with other less exotic objects such as gravel from the drive of a childhood home!
At the heart of Jacqueline & Edward is a desire to live and work in a way which is sustainable and ethical from all angles. As such they are an ethical and eco-friendly brand, creating hand-crafted engagement, wedding and eternity rings for couples looking for something meaningful, extraordinary and wholeheartedly ethical.
Hidden by Nature. Discovered by Us. Designed for You.
Words by Olivia Parker
Photography by Chris Sansom