We got out of the jewelry studio and into the desert! It was an adventure digging for Oregon Obsidian at Glass Butte in the wild high desert of central Oregon. We are intrigued by the origin and beauty of the material. A volcanic event occurred 5 million years ago that is the origin of much of Oregon’s obsidian. Obsidian is essentially volcanic glass and forms from lava that has cooled very quickly and we love the rich black color. Check out our designs made with this gorgeous material! <3 Val + Rachel
Categories: News | Posted 13-1-2016
Simply the perfect jewelry boxes! JM Craft Works creates these beautiful, clean, simple and modern ring boxes for VK Designs. Notice that they are amazing proportions (not your typical brick sized ring box) and are designed with sleek & strong magnetic closers. We are completely smitten and so proud to have Jim create them!
This is what Jim says about these boxes and his designs:
“The walnut log you see in the first photo is from a tree cut down in our neighborhood years ago by the city. I knew it was a black walnut and talked to the city forester about recycling it. He allowed me to collect most of the tree after they cut it down instead of it being hauled to the city dump. Since most of the things I make are pretty small, it’s lasted for years. I also visit two local recycling centers, Second Chance Building Materials and The Habitat for Humanity Restore, where I find a lot of the fine hardwoods I use in my work. I have a specialty bandsaw & planer set up for reconditioning old used wood. Everything I sell is completely handmade by me from start to finish and I try to use as much recycled material as possible although I do sometimes have custom orders requiring purchased hardwoods from a local specialty hardwood supplier. “
We could not be happier with these beautiful boxes! The story and ethics behind the boxes pairs perfectly with the jewelry! Thank you Jim for your amazing work!
Congratulations to Daniel & Breanne on their recent Engagement!
“Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?” -William Shakespeare
Congratulations Mollie & Russ!
Photos thanks to Pxlvue photography
Congratulations to Ty & Carolina on their recent wedding! It looks so fresh and bright at their summer celebration.
Wedding & engagement rings by VK Designs. Photos by Bobby Zhu of Spectrum Designs.
It was so wonderful getting to know Chris and Jonie over the past couple of years through the creation process of their custom wedding and engagement pieces. They both have such big hearts!
Their rings symbolize their unique connection and reflect their personalities. Big congratulations on your lovely Portland wedding!
Custom engagement ring is hammered 14k yellow gold with a yellow diamond and custom wedding rings are hammered palladium. Wedding photography by Nina Johnson.
Congratulations Jacob & Colleen! It was a pleasure creating your custom wedding (and engagement) rings for your your special day!
They tied the knot on June 28th!
Photos by Acorn Studios, Portland OR.
Jewelry can mark milestones and some of the most exciting moments in peoples lives, and I feel so fortunate to be part of some of those moments. I had the opportunity to work with Ben Bach on his custom wedding ring. I soon learned that Ben is a cinematographer and producer.
Like me – Ben’s projects often begin as just a glimmer, then blossom into a piece that is crafted and formed to a grand expression of something much bigger than yourself.
Ben asked me if I might be interested in being the feature of a video, to be shot and edited in a style he wanted to explore – that would show the process of creating a wedding ring with a fun, direct casting method. I was thrilled to share the process – and at the same time learned about the creative process of video. Ben’s vision was one that lets the story reveal itself in a graceful and genuine way.
Ben realized that music would be a big component to the video – so we reached out to musician Gavin Castleton who created a piece of music that so perfectly compliments the video and thoughtfully engages the viewer.
The video is a grand expression of those layers of creativity, formed and guided by Ben’s vision that started as just a little glimmer.
Take a watch and enjoy!
Categories: News | Posted 4-3-2014
The new FAIRMINED Gold initiative that VK Designs is a part of is getting some great press. We are working with Ethical Metalsmiths.
Take a look at this wonderful article about our latest efforts sourcing directly from AURELSA in Relave, Peru.
Photos thanks to ethicalmetalsmiths.org
Categories: News | Posted 21-11-2013
Where does gold come from? In Relave, Peru it comes from the rock – turned to dust and countless hours of laborious work by dedicated Peruvian miners.
I’ve wanted to visit a gold mine for a long time. VK Designs has been working with an organization named Ethical Metalsmiths, and recently I collaborated with this group and other jewelers in the United States to purchase directly from a FAIRMINED gold mine in Peru, named AURELSA. The opportunity arose to visit this mine and I was thrilled to join this group in making history. We toured AURELSA November 13th, 2013.
There are only a handful of FAIRMINED gold mines in South America – in Columbia and Peru. FAIRMINED gold pays a premium price above the standard market price; this premium goes directly to the community to grow – for example buying equipment and building schools or having educational workshops.
Here is an excerpt from Alliance for Responsible Mining about FAIRMINED gold:
Fairmined gold is ethical gold extracted by Artisanal and Small-scale miners certified under our FAIRMINED standard. Buying FAIRMINED metals is supporting responsible certified miners and their families that follow strict requirements for social development, environmental protection, labor conditions and economic development in their mining communities. FAIRMINED gold is the achievement of the world’s pioneering and industry leading network of responsible Artisanal and Small-scale miners. Read here for more.
This report also is very informative on the history and background of Artisanal and Small-scale mining, how is is pursued and how FAIRMINED functions for these miners and communities.
This mine , AURELSA, is a democratic cooperative and the members vote to determine the future of the mine. They also annually vote on where the FAIRMINED premium will be invested for the community. This year AURELSA has chosen to use it to build a final processing facility for their gold. (See photo above with blue tank.) Previously they were laboriously trucking the materials for final processing in the capitol city, Lima, were they were loosing precious material due to low processing standards.
The journey to reach AURELSA was a trip deep into the heart of the desert in the Arequipa providence in the southern mountains of Peru. No asphalt roads to speak of, just rock and dust. It was a bumpy one and a half hour van ride to reach the tiny town near the mine from the coast town of Chala (already 10 hours south of Lima). Here, the sun is relentless and warrants the liberal use of 90+ SPF sunscreen (they really sell it in Peru) and a hat for protection from being gravely burned in the near- equatorial sun.
It doesn’t look like much upon first glance, a simple town with brick and mortar construction, faintly painted buildings, lazy dogs, and a handful of frail looking trees in between tall mountains of sandy colored rock. You can tell rain hasn’t fallen here in years. But then it gets really good. The first hello from the AURELSA community. The smiles. The handshakes. You can feel the reverence, humbleness, sincerity and deep cultural formality in each greeting. It hit me, the people are the real gold in this place. The rest of it is just second. My heart swells.
The most powerful feeling that radiated from the miners was honest, deep pride. I mean, real community pride like I have never experienced before, with such a clear dedication to their children’s future. In conversation, one of the founders of the mine and community mentioned this, “We are so proud that our children are able to go to school in the university, become professional, return to the community and continue supporting the business to grow more into the future.” He commented on how this aspect of the mine and business brought them more pride then any other. He candidly said about himself and his comrads, “Look at us, no degrees or diplomas, but our children are able to do it. In 1985, this started as a simple informal mine with a few men, and now look where we are. A full community, formalized mine, FAIRMINED certified, bettering our equipment whenever possible and now we are opening up another vein of the mine lower in the mountain.” Emanating pride.
The children. I cannot tell you how my heart filled up and began to burst while the kids were performing traditional dances for us at the school, where my tour group sat as guests of honor in the front row. They danced their little hearts out for us and showed their simple joy as we all took photos together after the performance. It felt so diplomatic and historic to be sitting in the school with all these amazing, healthy and bright children; who were being greeted for the first time from visitors from Japan, the United States, Bolivia, Holland or Colombia from the diverse group that I was a part of.
This was an exceptionally inspiring experience. The miners’ professionalism absolutely blew me away. Not the type of shiny, fabricated professionalism that is at times inherent with a diploma, but a tender, earthy, organic professionalism that is fueled by pride and pure manpower. One of the miners simply asked me, “Are people out there actually interested in what we do?” And I replied just as simply, “Yes!”
For more info see these amazing pages:
ARM (Alliance for Responsible Mining) – AURELSA Profile
Ethical Metalsmiths – www.ethicalmetalsmiths.org
ARM (Alliance for Responsible Mining) – FAIRMINED Gold
VK Designs is very excited to be apart of this years Committed event. It isn’t going to be like any other wedding or bridal show that you’ve ever been to before!
Creative, unique & niche! We are very excited to participate and looking forward to chatting about all the amazing designs we’re working on, talking new custom design options and share our new FAIRMINED gold with Portland and the world!
VK Designs has been working with Ethical Metalsmiths to connect directly with a Fairmined gold mine in Relave, Peru, and the most amazing part is that this is the 1st FAIRMINED gold initiative happening in the US. Read more here!
The event is the night of October 11th from 5-9pm and is at Castaway Portland, 1900 NW 18th Ave, Portland, OR 97209.
Can’t wait to see you there!