When John and Kate met Camilla
Artist Camilla Gough weaves the landscape of love into bespoke engagement rings.
Flicking through her Instagram feed, Kate finally found what she was looking for. Since becoming engaged, Kate and her fiancée John had been searching for an artist with a unique and bold aesthetic to design their engagement and wedding rings – and they had just stumbled across the work of Camilla Gough at e.g.etal.
“We decided that if we were to be wearing rings around for the rest of our lives, they should reflect who we are as individuals and as a couple – not just add to the tradition of sporting nondescript gold bands and a rock, seemingly involved in a silent size war with the rest of the world,“ said John.
John and Kate both respond strongly to the natural world, and were drawn to Camilla’s talent for translating landscapes and flora into bespoke jewellery – a process she has developed over many years working with couples for whom a sense of place is significant.
“Big personal decisions are often made when we have the opportunity to stop and contemplate,” said Camilla. “Standing at the shoreline, looking over a view or walking through trees kindles thoughts for change or commitment. My unusual design process allows the physical environment that is the backdrop to a moment of sentiment to feed into the finished piece.”
John and Kate’s brief was filled with provocative visual language, with multiple points to ignite Camilla’s imagination. As well as their connection as a couple, the brief highlighted their differences: while Kate lives for the sun, surf and summer, John finds solace in wintry mountain scapes and pale moonlit skies. Material preferences also emerged: while John loves the look of mixed metals, Kate prefers the singular warmth of yellow gold.
After carefully studying their brief, Camilla found inspiration at the point of connection: where the shore meets the mountains. She designed unique but complementary rings, linked through carefully considered details.
“The couple both desired rings with texture and intricate detail, which allowed ease in building a relationship between the two designs,” said Camilla. “I began with the shoreline for Kate’s ring and ran the landscape from the beach up to the mountains over John’s ring.”
Kate’s engagement ring features stepped, carved edges and finely inlayed metals that follow the ripples of sand and water. At the centre sits a bright yellow diamond – an image of sunshine – surrounded by Ceylon blue sapphires and more glittering diamonds.
For John’s wedding ring, sleeved layers of white gold are offset with an inlayed rose gold mountain range. A stepped edge echoes Kate’s ring and reflects the topography of the shoreline leading up to the mountain. “I gave John’s ring a satin finish on the top layer to cool the appearance, as he described himself as someone who loves winter and mountains, which contrasted with Kate’s love of summer.”
As a further conceptual link between the rings, at the very edge of Kate’s ring is a slither of white gold. On John’s ring, a matching thin edge of yellow gold provides a continuum.
When Camilla showed the couple her sketches, the reaction was immediate: “I think I’m safe in saying that both of us were thrilled with Camilla’s interpretation of the brief,” says John – a feeling that was amplified once the handmade rings were delivered to the couple.
“I was stunned when I first saw the finished products. The brief came through far more in the physical item than it had done in the sketches, especially the differences between Kate’s shoreline rings and my more mountainous concept. The shine and sparkle of the shoreline rings was Kate to a tee – real summer rings; while the darker tones in my ring suited my winter tastes perfectly.
“However, the most outstanding difference between the sketches and the finished product was the layering of metals. I had made a big deal in the brief of the fact that we were both tactile people and the layers on both sets of rings was what truly cemented these as ‘our’ rings.”
Camilla was equally thrilled with the commission: “I thoroughly enjoy the challenge of unpicking a brief and formulating a design. The common theme with jewellery commissions is love, yet each narrative is textured with a different expression.”
For Camilla, it is as important to listen to what is said as it is to consider what is unsaid: to intuitively consider the wearer.
“My starting point is the customer’s desire, however I am artist. I have a distinctive style and my strength is creating unique jewellery. I don’t replicate other jewellers’ designs or make anything that doesn’t originate with my catalogue of work.”
For John and Kate, allowing Camilla artistic freedom was an integral part of the process. “I wanted Camilla to make her own interpretation of the concepts, rather than me meddling with the design. My partner was initially unsure about the colours of some of the stones but is very glad now that she decided not to change anything – putting trust in Camilla’s design proved to be the right move.
“We find that Kate’s ring takes on different personalities, depending on the light. We’re still looking on it with a daily sense of wonder and I often catch Kate staring at it.”
With a wedding still in the works, John’s band is yet to make its public debut. “But I do find myself getting it out of its box from time to time and I love it more each day. I can’t wait to wear it!