In case you haven’t heard, we are huge fans of Aide-mémoire Jewelry, and have been loving on their unique collection of rings, earrings, and necklaces for years. Owner Aran Galligan is the designer behind this all-inclusive, queer woman-owned studio in Seattle, Washington, and her pieces never cease to amaze us.
Continuing to “wow” us is her new Sculpted collection, which offers a softer and more subtle departure from her more geometric designs. We expect to see this collection popping up on the hands of engaged folks quite a bit in the near future.
The New Sculpted Collection Is the Perfect Mix of Soft and Classic
When we first saw the new Sculpted collection we were floored by its beauty! Aran designed the collection as a foil to some of the more rigid and geometric styles of her larger collection. “Each piece has that handmade feel, with softer, organic forms,” she says. “I wanted to take inspiration from nature, but in a way that is referencing it, not repeating it.”
All of Aran’s work is clean and minimal, and the Sculpted collection is no different. For these heirlooms, though, she wanted each piece to feel a little looser and more contemporary — “A bit of ‘wabi sabi’,” she says. As a result, the designs are creative and playful, while still as timeless and classic as the rest of the Aide-mémoire collection.
Aide-mémoire is also focused on the handmade aspect of their jewelry. All pieces are handmade by Aran and her team in their studio. Each piece is carefully crafted, and she loves that the softness and handcrafted nature of her work comes through clearly in the Sculpted collection. Part of this is due to the fact that she utilizes a different carving and casting technique to create the designs. While the rest of her collection is made either by carving wax or by 3D printing, for the Sculpted collection she opted for clay. Like the collection itself, clay is a bit softer and picks up every little detail during the sculpting process. Aran loves that in some cases her literal fingerprints are left behind on the clay and become part of the texture of the finished product. There’s certainly no mistaking these works of art for factory produced rings!
The collection also includes a number of sleek wedding bands that can be worn stand-alone, paired with your engagement ring, or stacked to create the modern look shown in the images above.
Looking for earrings and a necklace to round out your wedding day look? The collection includes an assortment of options, each harnessing the same aesthetic as the engagement rings themselves, complete with speckled starry sky diamonds.
Not sure what to buy as a gift for your wedding party? These earrings and necklaces make a great option, and it’s like you’re gifting your wedding party a little piece of your engagement ring that they can carry with them.
The Sculpted Collection is Made From Lab Grown Diamonds and Recycled Metals
In case you haven’t heard, lab grown diamonds are one of the biggest things to happen to the jewelry industry, and we are thrilled that Aran has decided to use lab grown diamonds throughout the entire Sculpted collection. “Laboratory diamonds are growing in popularity among buyers who are looking for elegant yet affordable options to expensive natural diamonds,” says Aran. “Laboratory-grown diamonds are real diamonds that are physically, chemically, and optically the same as a natural diamonds. Buyers like that lab diamonds have a smaller social and environmental footprint, and cost 30% to 40% less than natural diamonds.”
For us at Catalyst, choosing a lab grown diamond is an easy decision. Why not choose to have a durable option that you can pass down for generations while saving money and ensuring you don’t negatively impact the planet or society? Yes, please!
Aran is now offering the option to select a conflict-free lab grown diamond with any of her ring designs, and we are definitely on board. And if you want a more classic solitaire or cluster look for your engagement ring, all of Aide-mémoire’s rings are made with sustainability and ethics in mind. This means every ring is conflict-free and uses recycled metals. All natural diamonds are recycled, and Aran offers a selection of ethical fair-trade gemstones you can choose from, including moissanite, which is rising in popularity as an alternative to diamonds.
Aide-mémoire Knows What it Means to Be Conflict-Free
“I go beyond most jeweler’s when it comes to sourcing my materials,” says Aran, who is a member of Ethical Metalsmiths and EnviroStars, as well as other organizations that are dedicated to ensuring that all steps are taken to ensure that business practices are as ethical as possible. Aran also wants couples to be more informed about the difference between the terms “eco-friendly” and “conflict-free.”
“There’s been a green-washing of the jewelry industry and terms like ‘eco-friendly’ are being used very loosely,” says Aran, and sadly that term doesn’t always mean what consumers think it means. Kind of like calling foods “natural” doesn’t necessarily mean they are “certified organic,” the term “eco-friendly” doesn’t always mean that a high level of care has been given to ensure the jewelry making process hasn’t had a negative impact on the planet or on people. Instead, Aide-mémoire Jewelry likes to emphasize that they go a step further to ensure that their materials and processes are truly ethical.
“We go beyond the Kimberley Process in sourcing our diamonds to ensure that they truly are conflict-free, as relying on the Kimberley Process alone does not consistently prove that a diamond is conflict-free,” says Aran. “Additionally, all packing materials are reused and reusable, recyclable and compostable, with a minimal use of plastic.”
You can feel good knowing the ring you’ll carry with you for the rest of your life was made with love and care for the planet and all of the humans involved.
Still Not Convinced? Let’s Talk about Aide-mémoire’s Affordable Price Point
While traditionally, companies like De Beers sold us the idea that couples needed to spend at least one month’s salary on an engagement ring (and that that ring should also include diamonds), we all know that in this day and age the rising costs of living don’t make an engagement ring in that price point accessible to most people. While Aide-mémoire’s engagement rings are certainly luxury pieces, Aran wants her work to be more accessible to couples, and as such prices in the collection range from $185 to $2,700.
Unlike large competitors, Aide-mémoire also sells direct to customers, which cuts down on costs and allows them to more comprehensively ensure high-quality materials and sustainable practices from start to finish. Finally, you can feel great knowing that a portion of their proceeds are being donated each month to organizations that are truly making a difference, including Lambda Legal, Higher Heights, The Hunger Project, and Direct Relief.
Aide-mémoire’s full collection of engagement rings, includes some truly stunning heirlooms, like these pieces that have more of a vintage art deco feel, including my personal favorite, the stunning signet engagement ring.
If you managed to get through this article without seeing the ring that’s right for you, I assure you there are dozens of more amazing engagement ring options available in their shop.
Ready to Say “I Do” to an Aide-mémoire Engagement Ring?
Jen Siomacco is the CEO and Editor-in-Chief of Catalyst Wedding Co. She works to mesh together her love of feminism, love stories, accessibility, equality, and design into the Catalyst brand. When she’s not traveling the country working to make the wedding industry a more inclusive place, she’s writing on her couch and snuggled up with her husband and SUPER lazy cats.
Photo by Tiffany Josephs Photography