By Frederick Holm
With the shifting spotlight on the importance of going green in this day and age, it is no surprise that many like to focus on finding local materials to use in their keepsakes. This idea holds true when considering rare Welsh gold as couples start looking for their gold engagement rings. Kate Middleton's wedding ring was made from Welsh gold, so it's no surprise that going local has continued to grow in popularity.
Panning History for Gold
A rare but particularly exquisite material when used in gold engagement rings, Welsh gold was first mined from the Dolaucothi mine in Carmarthanshire from 75AD until nearly 300AD. After being donated to The National Trust in 1941, visitors today have the chance to tour the mine and view the rivers that were channelled and used to wash gold from the land. Not only is the surface mining work available to see, but also the underground mines, which were upgraded to use an intricate hydraulic system during their operation.
The mine that produced the gold used for Kate Middleton's ring and other gold engagement rings is the Gwynfyndd Mine located near Gwynedd. The mine was discovered in 1860 and remained in operation until 1998. Tours were provided throughout the 1990s where the public had the chance to pan for gold. Unfortunately, the mine was shut down due to health and safety reasons, but imagine a couple getting the chance to show off a gold engagement ring made with rare Welsh gold that they panned themselves.
A Royal Heirloom
Establishing a tradition, the Queen Mother had her wedding ring made from beautiful Welsh gold in 1923. Later, in 1986, the Queen received a stunning sixtieth birthday gift of a kilogram ingot of gold that was mined from the Gwynfyndd Mine in Wales. The gold from the 1986 ingot was also used for the beautiful wedding ring of Kate Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge. Having been made into several other rings throughout the years for the Royal Family, this same kilogram of gold has become a well-used family heirloom.
These days, Welsh gold is unfortunately quite hard to find, but there are still jewellers who use it, despite its rarity, to make exquisite gold engagement rings. Although sometimes mixed with other less rare and expensive types of gold, any piece made with Welsh gold is extremely coveted. Many up and coming young designers are coming up with innovative designs and settings for their pieces and, as a jewellery medium, it seems that gold will be around for a long time to come.
Frederick Holm writes for the F&L Designer Guides, which hosts a thriving community of independent engagement ring designers in the UK. Inspired by their journey of discovery in search of distinctive, one-of-a-kind gold engagement rings, F&L now celebrates the works of their favourite designers and helps promote the notion of “Go Bespoke” as a more imaginative and interesting alternative to the limitations of High Street shopping.
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