Behind the Design: Dan & Katharine
It all began with a photo of upside-down brochures at a marketing event. A love story that started as a workplace friendship and blossomed into a beautiful romance – Katharine and Dan are living proof that the love of your life might be sitting just a few desks away. Self-proclaimed nerds, their love of pop culture bonded them initially, and ultimately cemented their relationship with a cheeky invitation to play Mario Kart on their Nintendo Switches. “We did not play Mario Kart” says Katharine with a coy smile.
The couple had worked together for four years before taking things to the next level. Initially keeping things on the down-low with one-on-one lunches, after-work drinks and stolen glances across the office, they finally made things official in 2019. Marriage was far from the top on their list of priorities, with both stating that “it wasn’t for them,” however as their bond grew stronger so did the need to make their union even more special. When Dan came across some of Katharine’s Pinterest boards, dedicated to engagement rings, bridal dresses and wedding ideas, he knew it was the right time.
As the design process began, Dan wanted to incorporate something personal to Katharine and something that reflected their mutual nerdy tendencies. One of the things that came to mind was Navi, the fairy from the iconic Legend of Zelda games – a favourite of Katharine’s. “It’s a companion fairy that gives you advice on your journey. So that’s part of our relationship as well. We kind of add to each other and steer each other,” says Katharine.
Before receiving the finalised ring, Dan was sent a 3D printed resin which helps illustrate what the finalised ring design will look like. It helps you see all the embellishments in a tangible and real way before they’re crafted in precious materials. This little detail of the creation process resonated extremely positively with Dan, who himself owns a 3D printer. He admitted the prototype now lives in the presentation box that Katharine’s ring was delivered in to remind the couple of each stage of the ring’s loving evolution.
That collaborative messaging and their mutual love of gaming came out in the design of the ring in a way that is subtle to the naked eye but “if you know, you know.” The engagement ring itself is beautiful and personal with a stunning 1.10ct blue sapphire serving as the centre stone. It sparkles differently depending on how it catches the light, darker inside, lighter in the sunlight – making it a mood ring of sorts.
Dan’s Jewellery Designer, Mark, says of the piece: “I love how it showcases the interplay of multiple dualities: curviness and angularity, technical and organic aspects, gracefulness and edge, the natural and the supernatural. Yet it’s cohesive, wearable, and so pretty. There are lots of details, and the form may come as a bit of a surprise, however the ring still clearly reads as an engagement ring, and highlights the beautiful blue sapphire at the centre.”
I wanted something down the side and I wanted it to be a little bit three-dimensional so we started to play with these motifs that I knew Katharine would like. Leaves and designs and swirls, all based on a lot of her Pinterest board that is so uniquely just her.
Set in platinum, it boasts two natural kite diamonds to the side as well as light blue sapphire accent stones finishing the design. Navi’s wings are represented both by the vein-like engravings that adorn the edges, and its body by the side sapphire and main gem. It gives the feel of a blue orb with two wings sticking out the top, and two smaller ones sticking out of the bottom in a subtle way. “You can look at it and I thought it was like a leaf, like a flower. It’s everything and nothing. And it’s icy, it’s spiky and it’s a different ring from every angle. That’s what I love about it.” Katharine then holds out her hand in a fist and exclaims “It’s my ring of power.”
Designer Mark has described it in more detail: “The sides that show an abstracted version of the fairy, her body formed by a lighter blue sapphire, with engraving lines visible on the wings, making them reminiscent of an Art Nouveau dragonfly. Some further lines and dots of hand engraving below the fairy form a brief pattern that’s both technical and naturalistic, like the fairy is sprinkling a little code as she flits by, or is riding a waft of enchanted musical notation.”
The final piece of the personalisation puzzle was the inclusion of three signature gems on the inside of the band, each symbolising certain months that were of major significance to the couple. A garnet, the January birthstone, represents the date they officially got together, the date they moved in together is represented by the pale alexandrite, and the ruby celebrates true love and symbolises the date of the proposal.
The proposal itself was so good they did it twice. Having first popped the question within the privacy of their own home, they recreated the scene in another meaningful location “for the gram”. Well, sort of. With a friend’s wedding in their diaries already, Dan had to bide his time so as not to step on toes and steal anybody’s thunder with his own proposal. He originally hatched a plan to propose on Katharine’s half birthday which was due to be a fancy dinner at London’s Shard, however after having waited so long already, one day he just couldn’t keep it in any longer and popped the question completely out of the blue at home. Katharine of course said yes, and both have expressed how happy they were to share this special moment with no interruptions, no onlookers and in their own little bubble. A few days later, they celebrated at the Shard as planned and, to cement the momentous occasion, Dan proposed again. The couple received a swathe of attention and adulation, with Dan even receiving a handshake from a well-wishing stranger.
The ring has been a hit, with people appreciating its uniqueness, eye-catching centre stone and the level of personalisation. Dan has said the process of creating the piece was lengthy and detailed but credits their designer Mark with a lot of patience and helpful ideas. Having done his own extensive research, Mark came up with a host of ideas that began a harmonious yet ambitious collaboration, with a finished result that’s nothing short of dreamy.
The couple is currently blissful in their engagement era and has no set-in-stone plans for their nuptials. However, there may or may not be a wedding inspo Pinterest board…