A Special Commission by Rhys Turner
We are lucky enough to see some incredible rings at e.g.etal, but this jaw-dropping commission by Rhys Turner has truly blown us away. Working on the process with client Stas was an incredible journey and concluded with a ring unlike any other.
Stas had been looking for rings online and was searching for something special to mark an important birthday. After looking at Rhys Turner’s work and seeing some of his previous commissions, Stas was drawn to Rhys’ many examples of bespoke ring designs, all of which were individually tailored to the owner’s personality.
“I particularly enjoyed his tension set designs and how this is a creative way of setting. There is also a lovely tension and harmony between the band and gem. The design of the band is very considered and feels of equal stature to the stone itself.”
Rhys’ tension set rings are a staple of his works and are considered a particularly difficult design to master. When we asked Rhys about what drew him to this style, it all comes down to minimalism.
“For me, stripping back a design to its raw details is key to my aesthetic. This and the exploration of how to technically encapsulate a stone, so I think a tension set really ticks all the boxes as to how I approach my work in general. The process of making a tension set ring is also heavily reliant on the handmade aspect, there are no cutting corners with this style and something that I strongly relate to my practice.”
Once we had a clear idea of what Stas was looking for we could start developing a brief for Rhys and commence the commission.
“The commissioning process was an amazing experience and an event in itself…I based it on what I enjoyed most in his work, this being his designs for men’s rings, architectonic forms, and wanted it to be made from platinum and sapphires.”
When briefing artists on commission works it’s crucial for us to communicate clearly on the clients’ behalf. We asked Rhys what some of his considerations are when he started this bespoke piece and how he knows when he has found the right stone.
“When sourcing gemstones, in particular, there is no hard and fast rule, it’s about looking to see what is available at that particular time. I often find the right stone and the client seems to meet at the right time, as it was in the case with Stas’ ring.”
Stas wanted to have input into the different elements and details, so as we went through the design process with him we kept Rhys involved to make sure that the design was possible. When tackling any new design Rhys takes on a few considerations.
“I look at the design and try to make suggestions of any ‘improvements’ or variations from my perspective that I feel could enhance the ring, however, I am also happy to be guided by a client.”
Rhys noticed with this particular design there was one key element that would make the ring functional or not and that came down to the tension set sapphire.
“This part was not going to be possible with this design, so we added a fine rail underneath the sapphire for strength and longevity….The key to making it work as a design is to make it as fine as possible so that it is not visible from the top view. It has the same feel and look while being worn and it is also a durable piece, durability and wearability are key for me as a maker.”
Something Stas noticed was that the use of larger stones in men’s rings is uncommon so it became critical to have the design and proportions just right. The stone is one of the most important considerations for a piece.
“The most important thing for me is for the stone to have minimal or no inclusions – Impurities that can look like dust or smudges, though sometimes these inclusions can be beautiful so it’s not a deal-breaker. From there it is definitely the cut and colour of the stone, both of these elements need to work together to be a nice stone. I’ve found the more I research and see different sapphires, diamonds, spinels, etc. the more I have developed my own appreciation and understanding of what I like and look out for. I think the people who are drawn to my work are generally people who like what I like – That is why I think it is so important to be yourself.”
On his new piece, Stas said:
“I think it’s perfect. I’m wearing it every day and still deciding which hand I like it on best. The sapphire is set asymmetrically, so looks different on the left and right hand and can also be worn with the diagonal facing in or out, this is a lovely surprise.”
Upon completing this commission Rhys concluded:
“Stas came in with a pretty strong concept for this piece so I found it really enjoyable to have some back and forth in regards to the design, I think we were both on the same page from the beginning. I love the asymmetry of this piece; however, it feels balanced. From a making perspective, it was a challenge, which I’m always excited about. I feel the most comfortable making at the bench as its where I have control and can fine-tune a design, the slightest details and proportion are incredibly important in my work as there is no place to hide, everything needs to be deliberate.
I am always grateful when someone buys or commissions a piece of my work, it is a weird and special feeling to know that these objects will be around a long time after me and to think about the stories that may become part of their life. For now, though, I feel honoured to create objects that make people feel happy and often mark a significant part of their lives, the process of designing and making a piece is the first part of that and should be a memorable and enjoyable event.”