A bride has been left "heartbroken" after her hand-made engagement ring was stolen by a cold-hearted thief on her wedding day.

The £6,000 sapphire and diamond-encrusted platinum ring was in a black handbag when it was stolen from a village church as Caroline Marshall and James Granshaw said their vows.

Distraught family members said the bride was left in floods of tears when she realised her beloved ring was missing following the service on Saturday afternoon.

An appeal has now been launched to track down the "priceless" ring which was “lovingly hand-designed” by her husband after he spent months painstakingly researching ethical jewellers that did not use blood diamonds.

The wedding was held at the parish church of St Peter ad Vincula in Wisborough Green near Petworth last Saturday.

But moments before the ceremony was due to start, the 32-year-old bride realised she still had her engagement ring on so she slipped it off her finger and gave it to her bridesmaid who put it in her black LK Bennett handbag for safekeeping.

After the service, they realised the handbag, which also had an iPhone in it, realised the ring was missing and called the police.

The couple were able to track the phone for a couple of hours in the direction of Haywards Heath before the signal went dead.

James' father Mervyn said: "It is just appalling to do this to a bride on her wedding day.

"This was not a drive-by or a walk-by theft, someone has walked up to the church and targeted it. I just despair.

“To steal a bride's engagement ring from a church - how low can you go?

"We are trying to reassure them, but Caroline has been in floods of tears on her honeymoon because she is so upset."

The newly-weds have now jetted off for a two week honeymoon in Italy but their family say the theft "blighted" what should have been the happiest day of their lives.

A Facebook page called 'Help us find the ring' has been set up to help the search and has received more than 400 likes, while friends and family are also using the twitter hashtag carolinesring to promote the appeal.

Anyone with information is asked to contact Mervyn Granshaw on mervyng@mac.com.