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Wooden Rings as an Ethical Wedding Ring Alternative to Mined Metal

Simply Wood Rings are an Ethical Wedding Ring Alternative

Grasberg Mine in Papua, Indonesia

Grasberg Mine in Papua, Indonesia

There is no avoiding the fact that wooden rings are more fragile than their metal counterparts...we think that's just fine. Simply Wood Rings don't represent forever: they symbolize reality. Our lives are inherently impermanent and it seems a little bit deceptive to buy into the idea that love is static. Love seems more about being mindful of the present moment. We hope to offer an ethical wedding ring alternative to gold and silver rings that doesn't sacrifice the romantic and intimate nature of these commitments.

Love is Now

Contemporary philosopher Alain de Botton wrote last year's infamous New York Times article "Why You Will Marry the Wrong Person" about this concept. It isn't surprising that his 2016 essay was the most read New York Times article of the year. Botton writes that loving imperfectly is perfectly human. In fact, many of us grow up with the idea that perfect love exists and requires no work and no care. The phrase "a diamond is forever" capitalizes on this idea; however, we at Simply Wood Rings believe that love radiates from each present moment. Maybe, wooden rings are a more appropriate symbol in that they require care and attention in the same way "true love" asks this of us.

In addition, we offer wooden rings as a unique alternative to the harmful impact of mined metal jewelry because the result of mining is hard to ignore. Unfortunately, gold, silver, and copper mining contributes to deforestation, acid/chemical run-off, the eradication of river ecosystems supporting a wide variety of beneficial organisms, and takes advantage of those native to the land that mining companies are exploiting. We're not a large company by any means but change begins small. 

Ethical Wedding Ring Alternative

Prong-set Ruby with Mother of Pearl Inlay

Using Vintage and Recycled Metal Rings Helps the Environment


Often, the environmental and ethical impact of precious metal mining is not considered when choosing what might become a family heirloom. Simply Wood Rings encourages purchasing vintage rings. Alternatively, we suggest recycling the beautiful heirlooms that already exist within your family. In fact, we often have customers bring us vintage rings that we cap with sustainably sourced or salvaged wood*, using a special technique, to fit you perfectly. Seems like there isn't much reason to contribute to large-scale mining culture, when there are so many meaningful pieces out in the world already. 

If you are interested to learn more, the following articles and photo essay are a few perspectives (from just two mines). These resources focus on on the negative impact mining practices have on all of our lives. 

Grasberg Miner, Ifansatsi / Getty Images

Grasberg Miner | Getty Images

Gold Mining in Indonesia and the Amazon Forest

"Indonesian Illegal Gold-mining in Pictures"
Ulet Ifansatsi / Getty Images for The Guardian, Feb. 2017

"We Will Lose Everything"
CJPC Brisbane, May 2016

“Environmental impact of mining in the rainforest”
Rhett Butler for Mongabay.com, July 2012

"What's Behind the Violence at the World's Largest Gold Mine"
 World Time, Oct. 2011

"Production of gold has many negative environmental effects"
Nina Shen Rastogi for The Washington Post, Sept. 2010

"Below a Mountain of Wealth, a River of Waste"
 Jane Perlez & Raymond Bonner for the New York Times, Dec. 2005

Thoughts, comments, concerns? Share them with us on our Facebook page, Instagram, or send us an email at craftsman@simplywoodrings.com

*Simply Wood Rings exclusively uses salvaged or sustainably sourced wood to craft our rings. In fact, we are one of the first to make salvaged wooden rings using a bent wood process. We have been proudly handcrafting wood rings in Chicago, Illinois since 2005.

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Introduction to Beekeeping with The Hive Supply Chicago — 9 Mind-Blowing Facts

Here, at Simply Wood Rings, we strive for eco-consciousness and sustainability; so, naturally we are interested in local initiatives that encourage such practices. The NWI Times.com reported that Mayor Daley began a green roof initiative on Chicago's City Hall in 2000 and three years later added two beehives housing about 10, 000 bees. Today, the number has grown to an estimated 160,000 bees. But that’s just the tip of the proverbial beehive. Last Sunday, I attended a Beekeeping 101 course taught by Naaman Gambill at the ReBuilding exchange (Bucktown). Naaman runs The Hive Supply Chicago (Homan Square) with his partner John Hansen who, Naaman told us, has 40 years of beekeeping experience in Chicago.

The Hive Supply Chicago

Photo: TheHiveSupply.com

The course was a three-hour introduction to the topic of urban beekeeping. It was amazing to learn about bees in a context I had never had the opportunity to do before. Naaman began the lesson with an overview of hives and provided information about basic necessities for urban beekeeping.

Here are a few things I learned :

1. If you're interested in keeping bees in Chicago, you’re easily allowed up to five hives on your property.

The only requirement is that you register with the Illinois Department of Agriculture which consists of filling out a “brief one-page form and mailing it to the IDOA.” This process is free of charge and you will receive access to necessary, yearly inspections from a IDOA Apiary Inspector. Naaman explained that the inspectors are actually there to help you in any way possible — they are there to serve the beekeeping industry.

2. There is such a thing called “bee space.”

Bee-space is the amount of space bees need to move around in the hive—this is typically 3/8” to 1/4”.  The amount of bee-space you allow for in your hives determines the amount of propolis — a type of bee glue — and comb that the bees will produce.

SWR Bee Space

Bee-Space

3. There is one queen per hive — around 20,000 bees in total. 

When a colony starts or an old queen retires, queen bees hatch and then duel it out GoT-style. 

4. ….And she only mates with drones from other colonies.

Drone bees are male (non-worker) bees and take up about 3% of a beehive population. Within a hive, they are virtually useless. These bees are the first to sacrifice themselves in times of bee-hardship (i.e. disease or cold spells) as they live on the flanks of the colony.

5. One hive can produce up to 62 lbs of honey. On average, hives produce around 29 lbs a year.

And they fly pretty far to make it. According to the British Beekeepers Association website "Bees fly about 55,000 miles to make just one pound." 

6. Bees are very type-A.

They remove pests and dead/dying pees as soon as possible. However, when a pest finds its way into the hive — the colony will sting the pest (for example a mouse) to death and then, if they’re unable to carry it out, they completely seal off the pest in propolis, i.e. that bee glue I mentioned in no. 2.

Bee Dance Video by Georgia Tech College of Computing

Screenshot from The Waggle Dance of the Honey Bee video published by Georgia Tech College of Computing

7. Bees are highly skilled communicators. Especially through dances.

Bees are hyper aware of time and space. Bees know where the sun is at all times because they have a polarized lenses and an internal clock. They utilize encoded dance moves (wiggling, figure-eight patterns, orientation, length of dance time, and pheromone expression) to indicate to each other where food and water supplies exist outside of the hive.

8. Also, when bees rub against each other they are communicating through pheromones.

The pheromones act as a sort of telephone-game relaying back to the queen, who makes decisions about how safe and healthy the colony is. If her own pheromones take too long to travel back to her, she knows the hive is getting too large and she must leave with part of the colony and allow the remainder to choose a new queen.

9. Different breeds of bees have different temperaments.

For example, Italian bees are comparatively gentle while Russian bees are more defensive in nature. Naaman suggested that, of the existing breeds, Carniolan bees have the best combination of traits while still maintaining a hardiness that is suited to Chicago’s climate.

Bees are amazing creatures and they’re integral to the health of our ecosystem. There are tons of beekeeping communities in Chicago and resources available on urban beekeeping and I’d encourage you to check them out. Below are a few links to get you started. Have a great week!

The Hive Supply Chicago

Cook Dupage Beekeeping Association

Chicago Honey Co-Op

Garfield Park Conservatory

Windy City Beekeepers Association

Westside Bee Boyz

Belmont Feed and Seed 

Class Materials at The Hive Supply Chicago, photo taken by Madeeha

Class Materials at The Hive Supply Chicago, photo taken by Madeeha Lamoreaux

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How much to spend on an Engagement ring?

The age old question: How much should you spend on an engagement ring? 

It's been answered with "two months' salary" for years and years.
Do you really need to spend that? Is that what everyone really thinks? How many people believe that?

A study done by GoBankingRates suggests that just isn't the case. They surveyed 5,000 adults and offered them 7 options. The results are shown below...

Image via GoBankingRates

As you can see, there are more people that thought money was no object or spending less than $1000 was appropriate. It seems that the classic advice of two months' salary is out the door.

What does that mean for you? It means looking for an engagement ring your significant other will love!

  •  Know their style.
    Are they super simple? Do they love the outdoors or would they rather shop till they drop? 
  • Know your budget.
    There's no need to get into debt before you're married, this is a new step in your relationship and it should be enjoyed. Meaning isn't determined by price.

Breaking Traditions Wood Wedding

Vintage provided ring capped with walnut and turquoise

Birdseye maple with silver and sapphire inlay

Rosewood with turquoise inlay and bezel set topaz

"Breaking Traditions"
Mahogany, birch with inlayed crushed stones

​As for us, we love using materials that have meaning for our customers. Creating rings with materials that are provided give an extra feature for them. Hearing the stories behind why they're important is what gives their ring value to them as well as to us. While you're out shopping for a ring whether it be together or purchasing a ring for a surprise proposal, think about what makes you happy and what gives value to you and your significant other. 

If you're loving our rings we'll always be here to create something special for you!​

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My Last Blog Post

My Last Blog Post

When I graduated college in 2012, I started looking for a job in the jewelry industry since I was doing my own metal-smithing on the side. I saw a post on Craigslist for a bench jeweler position with Gustav Reyes with his company Simply Wood Rings, and I knew I wanted it more than anyone else. I ended up getting that job and then over the years moving onto other jobs and things, but ultimately staying in touch with Gus for the past five years. I ended up ordering rings from Gus when I was looking for a ring set and I inquired about working with him again, but this time in an administrative position. I lucked out and got to spend the past year working as an Administrative Assistant for Simply Wood Rings. I have learned a ton during this past year, and also have made some great friendships while here. I cant explain how thankful I am for everything I have learned and all the appreciation I have been shown. Gus has helped me with my own jewelry business in any way possible and I have been given numerous opportunities while here. It is also so great to be part of a community of artists and eco-conscious people. It is bittersweet to have to move onto another position next week, but I can’t explain enough how great my time with Simply Wood Rings has been and I know I will always have my Simply Wood Rings family!

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Birthwood Introduces Pendants!


Birthwood Pendants Celebrate Life Wood Jewelry


Birthwood Pendant

Our newest edition to the Birthwood family is here: Birthwood Pendants! These necklaces represent each month of the year with their specific birthwood and birthstone inlay. 

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December Birthwood Pendant

Each pendant has a base of Mahogany wood with an inlay of each month's Birthwood and Birthstone. We chose mahogany because it of it's strength & beauty. Our Mahogany is salvaged from local artisans & craftsman who no longer can use the small pieces. We wanted to continue to honor the material instead of it going to waste.

The image above is the December Birthwood Pendant which is made of Pine and Turquoise.

Pine wood is widely used in high-value carpentry items such as furniture, window frames, panelling, floors and roofing.
The world’s oldest known living organism is a 16-foot spruce in Sweden sprouted roughly 9,550 years ago.
Seems short for the oldest tree right? Well this little guy’s root system got started back when the British Isles were still connected to Europe by an ice bridge. The pine tree symbolizes creativity, peace and harmony.

We’ve paired our ring with crushed turquoise which is December’s birthstone.

All Birthwood pendants take 2 weeks to create. Please contact us if you need earlier and we will try and accommodate your needs. Order yours now and get it in time for the holidays! These pendants are the perfect gift for someone special in your life.  Click on the link below to see all twelve Birthwood Pendants! 

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How to have an eco-friendly Thanksgiving

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Thanksgiving is right around the corner and we know that it can be hard to try to stay eco friendly during the holidays when so much is happening at once! We have researched some tips for how to try to stay eco-friendly during Thanksgiving to help you in your efforts!

One way is to get food from a farmers market and support local farmers.

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Commercial canning of vegetables uses 3 billion kWh of energy per annum. That’s enough to run more than 8.5 million refrigerators for an entire year! Also the transportation of food across the world uses so much gas that buying local makes a huge difference.

By avoiding canned goods, you’ll also be cutting down on your exposure to BPA – a hormone disrupting chemical that lines tin cans…which even the FDA has ‘some concerns’ about.

When celebrating with family, try to go with some cloth napkins instead of paper ones. Again, while the paper ones are convenient, they’re incredibly wasteful and most definitely not eco-friendly. Did you know that the average American uses 2,200 two-ply paper napkins per year? That’s 662 billion napkins ending up in American trash cans every twelve months!

Another way to try to be conscious of your eco-footprint this year is to make sure to avoid wasting food. Try to only make enough for everyone and don't have leftovers that you will just end up throwing away. 

Also why not try a candle-lit dinner this year? Using candles instead of electricity the whole night will create ambiance and be romantic while saving the environment.

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Your green efforts don’t have to end just because the meal has! When it’s time for the clean-up, you can make further green choices.

Conventional cleaners are chock-full of chemicals which are hazardous to both the environment and our health. Overhaul your arsenal of cleaning products with some homemade versions – most of which can be made from items you already have in your kitchen.

We hope this helped you think of some ways to be as eco-friendly as possible this holiday season and that you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving with your families! 

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4 Ways to Give Eco-Friendly Gifts This Season!

Are you in a crisis because you want to give awesome gifts this holiday season but don't want to contribute to the mass production and consumption that comes along with it? Want to try to stay eco-conscious this season? We have some ideas for how you can give without feeling guilty! 

1) Donate to an Animal Sanctuary 

Animal sanctuaries are amazing places and exist all across the world and giving a donation to an animal sanctuary is a way to avoid contributing to the big companies selling presents this holiday season. If you know your bestie's favorite animal, you could make a donation in their name and even get them a little photograph or plush toy of the animal. Some sanctuaries that are great are Farm Sanctuary and Bat World. Farm Sanctuary gives a photo and birth certificate with your “adoption” of an animal and Bat World provides a picture, birth certificate, and some other cool perks as well!

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2) Give an Experience

Giving an experience as a present, like a class or a trip to a winery is a great gift idea. It gets people out of their comfort zone to do things they have never done before and could even spawn a new hobby. You may even get asked to join!

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3) Make a gift from scratch

Giving a gift that you took time out of your life to make is a really great thing to give! It shows how much you care about someone and makes them feel extremely cared for. It is also a great way to cut down on excessive production this holiday season. You could try your hand at candle making or even knitting. It may even spawn a new hobby! 

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4) Growable Gifts

Giving someone a little life to grow is an amazing present. Having plants around increases positivity and growing one can make you feel accomplished as well.

Making a little seed starter kit or a terrarium is a great way to create something small and growable for a loved one. Also, how many other gifts can release oxygen into the atmosphere??

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Don't forget to look through our ring selection for some eco-conscious gifts as well! 

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October Birthwood Story

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Hello! Since my Birthday was Monday and my birthwood ring is the October ring, I wanted to share my personal birthwood story with all of you! Also check out our new October Birthwood Video at the end! 

“ For the first 19 years of my life, I celebrated my birthday with my grandmother. This is because we happened to have the same birthday. October 17th was always the one day out of the year that I looked forward to the most. My grandma and I would hang out together and she would usually make us a birthday dinner of meatloaf, mashed potatoes, and cherry pie. I hung out with my grandmother most days because she was my primary caretaker as a child, so our birthday really wasn't that much different than any other day, but it always felt different to me. I never had a birthday that was my "own", but in all honesty the thought always scared me. I knew that when I lost my grandmother and my best friend, I would have my first birthday that was my "own". My grandmother passed a few days before our shared birthday six years ago. I was turning 20 and she would have been 84. My birthday is now bittersweet most years because it is a time of remembrance as well as celebration. I try to think of it as a celebration of her life and how it affected mine and celebrate how she still lives through me. Dates and months can hold a lot of memories for people throughout time, and October will always be a special month for me. This is why the October birthwood ring is so important to me. The wood for the October birthwood ring is maple, which stands for offering, generosity, balance, promise and practicality. The marigold inlay symbolizes grace, protection, comfort, and healing. If my grandmother was anything in life, she was generous. She babysat me for my entire childhood while expecting nothing in return. She would bake breads, muffins, brownies, and any other baked good you could think of and then give it all to her neighbors. She also offered me much protection and comfort while helping me through all troubling situations that life threw at me as a child and teenager. The marigold in this ring also offers me a sort of comfort when I look at it and remember my grandmother through the ring. I will always hold her close to my heart in everything I do, which is why having a ring that symbolizes our life together is so important to me. “

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Strength Of Souls

We are pleased to introduce a new set of rings to all of you: our Strength of Souls set!  This ring set pairs oak bands with an inlay of malachite and turquoise to create a very significant ring for the wearer. We really love making these rings, and I will explain why below!!

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The Strength of Souls set represents strength.. For a couple it shows how two people who support and love one another can weather any storm, and these rings represent that journey. If you only wear one for yourself, it shows that you are a strong grounded person who knows what they stand for. The Oak tree has a long history of representing strength, as well as malachite and turquoise. 

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Oak

Oak is a wood native to the northern hemisphere and it represents strength and a noble spirit. The Ancient Celts observed the oak tree’s massive growth and impressive expanse and they realized that this tree can endure most things. They also observed that oak trees attract lightening and they thought this made them even more powerful. Oak trees are known to live for over 200 years which shows how strong and stable they are during all the things they endure. Ancient people also made doors from oak because of the tree’s strength. They believed these doors would keep out evil spirits. This tree is known to represent truth and knowledge.

Turquoise

Turquoise was found in many burial sites of warriors throughout both north and south america because of the strength of the stone. in the Orient, rings and amulets were used to protect against evil spirits. Turkish soldiers would wear turquoise to prevent falls while riding their horses in battle. The apaches believed there would be turquoise at the end of a rainbow for good luck.

Malachite 

Inherent in Malachite is lighter green eye-shaped forms or bands on its surface. These "eye stones," believed to enhance great visionary powers, were used to ward off negative happenings. They were stones of security and protection for children, and their most remarkable association today is the ability to warn of impending danger by breaking into pieces. It is a Stone of Transformation, assisting one in changing situations and providing for spiritual growth. Malachite is a protection stone, absorbing negative energies and pollutants from the atmosphere and from the body. As a stone of transformation, Malachite encourages change and emotional risk-taking.

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What Makes Willow Wood so Wonderful?

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Willow is the Birthwood that represents the month os September and is one of our favorite woods! The willow tree has always been one of my favorite trees, but it can be used for many different things and has many different meanings! 

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Willow is a decidedly aromatic tree found most often near waterways throughout temperate regions. It has a history of a long- standing relationship of usefulness- medicinal, magical, and otherwise. The willow tree is most associated with the moon, water, Goddesses, and all that is feminine. It is the tree of dreaming and deep emotions. It is a tree of enchantment and was associated in Celtic folklore with poets and spells of fascination. The energy of the willow wood puts us in touch with our deepest emotions and inspires us to come to an understanding of ourselves. It stimulates our intuituve side and helps us find the right path in life. 

bark, tree, willow, septembe

The North American indigenous tribe called the Seneca, has a long bond with the willow tree. They consider it to be a source of gentile humility, charm, and grace. 

On an herbal level, willow bark has been used for it's pain-relieving qualities for at least 2,000 years. All varieties of the tree can be used as an eyewash, to clear skin, and get rid of dandruff. Willow has also been known to be useful in cases of nervousness and hysteria. It can be used to loosen the chest when someone is sick with a cough or pneumonia as well. 

Now that you know some more about the willow tree, check out our Birthwood ring section to see our Willow Wood ring and the rest of our Birthwood line! 

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The Wonderful World of Birthstones!

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Have you ever thought to yourself, "why is my birthstone important and where does it even come from?" I have in the past, because without research, I had no idea why my birthstone was deemed what it is. We use birthstones in our Birthwood rings along with the wood for each birth month. We crush up the stones and use them as an inlay in each month's ring. Each birthstone has meaning associated with it and a deep geological history. In this segment of our new blog series "The Wonderful World of Birthstones" we will delve into the stone of September, saphhire ! This one is for all you Virgo's and Libra's out there. 


Sapphire is a form of the mineral corundum, and it exists in a range of colors from light to dark blue. Corundum is the second-hardest mineral after diamond and occurs in a wide variety of colors. Sapphire is any form of corundum that is not red, as red varieties are called rubies. Sapphires can be formed in crystalline limestone, gneiss, schist, and other crystalline rocks. Gem varieties occur chiefly in placer (river gravel) deposits.

Sapphires were believed to have special protective powers, such as preventing envy and protecting the wearer from poisoning. Some ancient cultures even thought that if a sapphire container held a venomous snake, it would die. To the ancient and medieval world, Sapphire of heavenly blue signified the height of celestial hope and faith, and was believed to bring protection, good fortune and spiritual insight. It was a symbol of power and strength, but also of kindness and wise judgment. In addition, people believed that sapphire had medical healing properties, such as the ability to cure colic, rheumatism, blindness, and mental illnesses. Today Sapphire is still a Stone of Wisdom, a royal stone of learning, mental acuity and psychic activation, a seeker after spiritual truth.

Sapphire is traditonally the stone known to be used as a 45th anniversary gift. It was also one of the 12 precious stones to be set in the breastplate of the High Priest of Israel. 

Now that you know a little bit more about the wonderful world of sapphires, go check out our sapphire and willow wood Birthwood ring for the month of September! 

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Things to do in Chicago for Labor Day Weekend!

Three day weekends are the best! If you are like me, you like to get out and about on a long three day weekend, but sometimes can't think of anything to do. Here is a list of some cool things going on around Chicago this weekend if you need some help figuring out where to go! 

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Photo courtesy of navypier.com

Fireworks at Navy Pier 

Every Wednesday and Saturday throughout the summer, Navy Pier has a fireworks show that starts around 9 - 10 pm. This Saturday is the last fireworks show of the summer at 10:15 pm! You can also schedule a fireworks cruise if you prefer to see them from a boat in the middle of the lake. Check out times and pictures here: https://navypier.com/fireworks/

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Photo Courtesy of seatageek.com

Taste of Polonia 

Starting September 2nd and going until the 5th, you can check out Taste of Polonia at The Copernicus Center in Chicago. The festival celebrates Polish culture and has tons of food  and drinks to choose from. There will be performances, carnival games, and things for people of all ages! You can have access to all the fun for just 10 dollars as well! Get more info from their site: http://topchicago.org/

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Photo courtesy of americanlobserfest.com

Great American Lobster Fest 

The Great American Lobster Fest is the Midwest's biggest seafood festival! It takes place at Navy Pier on September 2nd and September 3rd. They have all the lobster you can ever imagine in one place, plus live music and shopping. There Is also a lobster brunch cruise on the 4th taking off from Navy Pier! Check it out here: http://www.americanlobsterfest.com/​

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Photo courtesy of Everfest.com

African Festival of the Arts

The African Festival of the Arts always takes place on Labor Day weekend in Washington Park. The park turns into a simulated African village and is filled with performances and art. They even have an African marketplace so you can shop til your heart desires. Read more here! https://www.everfest.com/e/african-festival-of-the-arts-chicago-il

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Photo Courtesy of cityofchicago.com

Chicago Jazz Festival 

    One of the most infamous music festivals in the country happens right here in our own backyard. The Jazz fest has been around for some time and people come from all over to hear the jazz musicians who grace the stages. If you have a chance to go, you definitely don't want to miss the music! Check out the lineup here:http://www.cityofchicago.org/city/en/depts/dca/supp_info/chicago_jazz_festival.html/

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Ways to have an eco-friendly wedding

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Photo courtesy of bridalguide.com

Getting married but also want to have an eco-friendly wedding? It may seem hard to do, but it's actually pretty easy! We have some great tips for all you eco-conscious grooms and brides. 

Consider having an outdoor wedding  

Your venue is probably the biggest decision of the wedding. Opting for an outdoor wedding means you have to use way less electricity and overall power for the reception. If you decide to get married outdoors during the day, the sunlight is a much more eco-friendly way to provide light! If your wedding is going to be indoors, consider renting an AirBnb as a venue or an old barn or warehouse. The overall cost will be much less as well as having a more environmentally friendly space. 

Use recycled paper for name cards 

Using recycled paper for your name cards and other paper products you need at your wedding will cut down a ton on the production of paper used for just one night! The recycled paper look is much more cute anyway. 

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Photo courtesy of onewed.com

Donate leftover food

Most of the food from the night will end up not being eaten, and throwing it away is really wasteful when someone else can enjoy it. You can plan to donate your leftovers to a homeless shelter in your city by searching homeless shelters on http://www.homelessshelterdirectory.org/

Go thrifting for vases and glassware

Thrift stores have a lot of great stuff, including old vases and glasses. You can get glassware that has already been used for a very cheap price and then give it back to a thrift store when your wedding is over so other people can use it! 

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Photo courtesy of cedarwoodweddings.com

Repurpose your dress 

Your wedding dress only gets worn once, so why not give it a life after you wear it? There are many organizations that will take your dress and reuse it for good. Wish Upon A Wedding is an organization that helps people with life-threatening illnesses plan a wedding. They are a non-profit and rely on donations, you can find them here: http://wishuponawedding.org/

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Photo Courtesy of greenweddingshoes.com

Ask for donations to a charity instead of presents

A lot of people are opting out of presents these days and asking for donations to a charity instead. This is a great way to support your favorite charity with your friends and family! 

Of course, purchase eco-friendly wedding rings!

Photo Courtesy of our lovely customers (rings are made from Koa wood with a vintage metal ring)

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What is a Moissanite?

While browsing our site, you may have noticed that we use what is called a moissanite in almost all of our rings with stones in them. I have realized that most people don't know what exactly a moissanite is, and have never even heard of it before viewing our rings! Well, I am here to let you know just exactly what a moissanite is!

Moissanites are stones that are an eco-friendly alternative to diamonds. Most people want diamonds in their rings because of the sparkle and hardness of them, which is totally understandable! The only thing is that diamonds are not always eco-friendly and most of the time their origins are unknown. This is why a scientist named Henri Moissan created an alternative to diamonds. He discovered moissanite crystals in a crater that was created by a meteorite in 1893. He realized these crystals had more brilliance than a diamond and he found out they were composed of silicon carbonate.  Since the crystals are extremely hard to find in nature being that they come from a meteorite, he decided to start growing them in science labs. Henri Moissan later won the nobel prize for his discoveries. 

The moissanites that we get to use in our wooden rings come from a company called Charles and Colvard. They are one of the top leading moissanite distributors in the world. Moissanites have been proven to have a hardness of 9.25 on the Mohs scale of hardness, which makes it one of the hardest substances on earth!  This means that it can resist all surface scratching as well as having an incredible brilliance to it. 

Since we are an eco-friendly business and are incredibly conscious of where all our materials come from, we really couldn't find anything better than moissanites to use in our rings. We hope you love them just as much as we do!! 

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Wood Ring Tales – Adam and Vicki

We haven't posted a Wood Ring Tales in a while for you, so here is our newest story! Adam and Vicki are two of our customers who made some very personalized rings for themselves. We are always happy to create custom orders, especially creating rings that can be paired with engagement rings like Vicki's.  Here is an excerpt from the ceremony that the couple shared with us:

The ring is a symbol of the unbroken circle of love, of family and commitment. These rings are made of Black Walnut, taken from a tree planted by Vicki's grandparents, Tom and Ann Niblock. Black Walnut has also played a significant role in Adams life; it was our grandfather's favorite nut, and several black walnut trees dotted the family homestead. Inlaid in Vicki’s ring are stones that they collected from the beach in Delaware, where they first pledged their commitment to each other through engagement.

Adam and Vicki, your choice of this wood for your rings is fitting. Your marriage, like a tree, is a living, breathing thing. It must be carefully nurtured, to allow its roots to spread and deepen. Over time, it will change, never the same from year to year, but ever growing and increasing in strength. It will witnesses the passing of the seasons, and through every winter, it will keep faith in the hope of spring. It will weather storms and rejoice in the warmth of the sun. May these rings always remind you of the vows you have taken.

We love their story and we are so happy that we were able to create something so special for them! Congrats Adam and Vicki! Below are some pictures from the ceremony. 

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The Importance of Ephemeral Jewelry

Jewelry has been around from the beginning of time. Some of the first recorded jewelry was made by neanderthals using bones they found. The earliest finding of jewelry was dated around 25,000 years ago. This simple necklace made of fish bones was found in a cave in Monaco.

Of course, jewelry made thousands of years ago isn’t like the jewelry we wear today. When researching ancient jewelry and techniques that civilizations used, one thing I found to be interesting was the ephemeral nature of most of the jewelry. A lot of the time at the office we speak about our jewelry as being ephemeral because of the nature of the material we use. This transient nature is one of the main reasons we use wood. Wood is fragile, it connects us to the earth, it doesn’t last forever, and keeps us in the present moment. I saw that in some of the materials that were used in ancient jewelry, like shells, feathers, hair, rope, wood, and bone. All of these materials are episodic, impermanent, and temporary, and in this we find beauty.

Jewelry has been around from the beginning of time. Some of the first recorded jewelry was made by neanderthals using bones they found. The earliest finding of jewelry was dated around 25,000 years ago. This simple necklace made of fish bones was found in a cave in Monaco. Of course, jewelry made thousands of years ago isn’t like the jewelry we wear today. When researching ancient jewelry and techniques that civilizations used, one thing I found to be interesting was the ephemeral nature of most of the jewelry. A lot of the time at the office we speak about our jewelry as being ephemeral because of the nature of the material we use. This transient nature is one of the main reasons we use wood. Wood is fragile, it connects us

Feather and Shell Necklace from New Guinea  photo courtesy of pinterest


In New Guinea, people started making jewelry with the objects they found around them, like bones, tusks, teeth, and gemstones. Some of the jewelry that they created was highly valued because of how impermanent it was. They would create pieces from flowers, rare shells, and precious stones. These pieces connected them to the land they were from, and gave them a sense of identity and place in the world. The pieces were not about durability, but about importance in the moment. In Africa, a lot of tribes used wood to carve into beads and paint and then string together for necklaces. The wood was a material they had readily available, but at the same time served as a connection for them to the land they appreciated and represented.

african jewelry, jewelry, wooden jewelry, wood, tribal, painted wood, beads, necklaces, ephemeral

African Wood Necklaces  photo courtesy of interestingafricafacts.com

Jewelry later came to denote human connection and commitment to one another. Slaves were made to wear bracelets to show who they belonged to. Wedding rings symbolized the commitment two people had for each other. Some jewelry of the ephemeral nature that represents this concept is Victorian hair jewelry. People would take the hair from deceased loved ones and weave it into necklaces and other pieces of jewelry.

                                Victorian Hair Jewelry  Photo Courtesy of Gordon McDowell

These are all examples of jewelry that weren't intended to last forever, like a diamond or precious metal, but were made to have a specific significance in place and time that was important to the person wearing the piece. Jewelry is special in that it connects us to the people around us and the place where the materials are from. We take pride in these values since we use all locally salvaged wood and the stories of our customers.

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Birthwood Give Back to the Community Part 2!

In part one of this blog post, we told you about a program at Dorset Collegiate High School in Canada. The program promotes safe fun for graduate students by providing a space to celebrate and party all night while agreeing to not partake in consuming drugs or alcohol. We were contacted by the a parent whose daughter is graduated from the school this year. She asked if we would donate a gift certificate for the raffle they have as a way to entice kids to come and participate. We were more than happy to help, and we are happy to see that Brandon was the proud winner of a Birthwood Gift Certificate! He decided upon the November Birthwood ring, and we can't wait to make it for him. Thank you again to Loriann and Dorset Collegiate!!

If you are interested in our Birthwood line, check it out here! 

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Interview with our Owner Gustav!

We recently interviewed our owner here at Simply Wood Rings, and we decided to share it with you! Gustav started Simply Wood Rings ten years ago, so we thought it was time to ask him some questions about why and how he began Simply Wood Rings! 



Tell us a little about yourself and your business:

I was born in Mexico and raised in the United States. My father was a carpenter, so there was wood around me all the time growing up. He also studied jewelry in his free time and would bring me to the studio in Pilsen where he would learn techniques from other jewelry designers. A lot of his work inspired me at a young age, along with the Pilsen neighborhood where my business is located today. I attended the Art Institute where I studied painting and drawing, but afterwards I worked in construction for many years. While working in construction, I decided to start learning how to do woodworking so I could start making furniture. During that time, my partner, who is now my wife, asked me to create a wooden ring for her. I told her I didn’t think I could make one without compromising the integrity of the wood, but she insisted. She came to me with ideas on how to make one, but I kept pushing the idea away. After she insisted more and more, she came up with a technique of wrapping the wood where the wood had enough integrity to be wearable. It was from her that the whole process came to be. We have now been in business for the past ten years with no looking back.

Why wooden rings?

I wanted to create an alternative to traditional rings for people. Wood is an alternative to traditional structure, large corporations, and traditional ideas of “forever.” When you wear a wooden ring, it demands your attention. You have to be mindful of the material you are wearing and it brings you into the present moment. As humans, we aren’t put on this Earth forever, and the wooden ring reminds us of our fragility and how it is important to be mindful in the present. We don’t exist in the future, we exist now, just like wood. Our business is also eco-friendly and the wood we use is all salvaged from around Chicago.

What inspires you?

I am inspired mostly by the material itself and the stories of people we work with. Wood translates well to the sentimental connections we make with our customers because wood already holds an authentic position in the world of materials. Our customers have amazing stories that we use in our rings, and each ring is completely different than any others because of that. When I started making wooden items, I made keepsake boxes for women to place sentimental items in. The connection between wood and these objects creates a story unique to each individual, and that translated into our mission with Simply Wood Rings. I am also inspired by providing the alternative to metal rings that people may have not known existed prior to me starting my business.

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Hollywood In Chicago


hollywood, chicago, film, movies, pilsen, midland, rings, wood, ring, handmade

Photo via americastours.net

      Here at the shop, we are all big film lovers. Our shop is located inside a building in Chicago called the Midland Building, and we found out that part of the movie Divergent was filmed on our roof! We thought it was so cool that we should share it with you. The Midland Building is an old industrial building, which is a perfect setting for the futuristic, sci-fi, urban dystopia in Divergent. You can see other distinguishable landmarks in the movie, like the Willis Tower, the Ferris Wheel at Navy Pier, and the Chicago River. 

divergent, chicago, cinespace, hollywood, movies, pilsen, midland, urban, wood, ring, rings, handmade

Divergent was filmed with the company Cinespace, which is a block away from our building. Cinespace is responsible for shows like Chicago Fire, Chicago P.D., and Empire. We even saw Sophia Bush on the street one day while walking to lunch! If you ever want to try to catch a glimpse of a movie or T.V. show being filmed, head on over to Pilsen to check it out! 

Below is a video that shows the characters jumping onto the Midland Building! 

Check out Cinespace by going to their website: http://www.chicagofilmstudios.com

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Ideas For Showing Your Mother Love On Mother’s Day

Mother's rings

Mother's Day is right around the corner, just five days away!! We are so excited and have thought of different events you can go to in Chicago with your mother or gifts you can send to her! Whether you are able to spend Mother's Day with your mom or not, show her some love this year with an extra special something. 

Places to go in Chicago

Events

1) Magnolia Bakery - http://www.magnoliabakery.com/

Photo via www.chicagodining.com 

Is your mom an avid baker or lover of sweets? Magnolia Bakery is offering a special Mother's Day class where you and your mom can learn how to make and decorate their world famous cupcakes. Your mom will always have a fun dessert to bring to parties after learning these techniques! 

2) Rebuilding Exchange - http://rebuildingexchange.org/

If your mom is the craft type, you could take her to a woodworking workshop at the rebuilding exchange. The Rebuilding Exchange uses all salvaged materials, which is why we love them! They have workshops from wooden planters to frame building just for you and your mom on Mother's Day. She will always have a reminder of what a special day you planned for her with her handmade craft. 

3) Green City Markethttp://www.greencitymarket.org/

Photo via www.gapersblock.com 

The Saturday before Mother's Day the Green City Market has it's first farmer's market of the season! Grab some fresh, local fruits and veggies with your mom so the two of you can cook an amazing brunch together on Sunday! You could even have a picnic in the park after exploring the market. 

4) City Winery -http://www.citywinery.com/chicago/

If you want to relive some memories with your mom over a glass of wine, head over to City Winery for their story sessions brunch. They will be featuring stories about moms all day in honor of Mother's Day. 

Restaurants

1) The Dawson - http://www.the-dawson.com/

Looking for a brunch place with an outdoor patio and fireplace? Look no further than the Dawson. They have one of the best patios in the city with an amazing Mother's Day brunch menu to go with it. 

2) Cindy's - http://www.cindysrooftop.com/

Photo via www.chicagoculturalmag.com

Another restaurant with an amazing outdoor area is Cindy's. They are located on the 13th floor of the Athletic Association building and provide views of Millennium Park from their balcony. You could even walk over to the Art Institute afterwards and see the Van Gogh exhibit before it leaves.

3) Bohemian House - http://www.bohochicago.com/

photo via www.yelp.com

If you are looking for an escape from the city look no further than Bohemian House. Being there will make you feel like you have traveled from Chicago to Eastern Europe. They have a special brunch menu for Mother's Day and a build your own mimosa bar. What more could you ask for? 

Gifts

Not able to spend time with your mom on Mother's Day? We also have some great gift ideas for her!

1) Michelle Starbuck Designs  - https://michellestarbuckdesigns.com

We are always on the lookout for awesome jewelry and we love Michelle Starbuck! Her designs are super sleek and beautiful, perfect for any mother. 

2) Little Seed Farm Soaphttp://littleseedfarm.com/

photo via www.littleseedfarm.com

This soap is made from goat's milk from a farm in Tennessee, what could be cuter? You can even "meet" the goats on their website. They also have awesome wooden soap dishes. A perfect gift for the mother who loves to pamper herself 

3) CAsouls -  https://www.etsy.com/

CAsouls creates morse code bracelets and necklaces, which we think is pretty awesome. Why not get a necklace that says "mom" in morse code so you and your mom can have a special secret together? They are also beautiful pieces of jewelry. 

We hope that you all have an amazing Mother's Day this year and we hope our list helped you with some ideas! 

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What you can do for Earth Day!!

Photo Courtesy of www.lifehacker.com

Earth day is this Friday, and we are so excited! Did you know Earth Day has only been around since 1970? Now there are more than 193 countries who observe Earth day around the world. We are an eco-conscious business, and we try to do our part to make sure to conserve the Earth's natural resources. All of the wood we use for our rings is salvaged and reused, we never cut down any trees for our rings!  Are you wondering how you can take part in Earth Day in a few simple ways? We have made a list for you! Incorporate these things into your everyday life as well to be extra eco-conscious!

  1.  Join a community garden

Photo Courtesy of www.communitygardens.com

Chicago has a ton of community gardens around the city. You can join and start growing your own vegetables and herbs today! Another idea is to start a window sill garden if you only want to plant small things. Locally sourced food cuts down on gas costs from airplanes shipping food and pesticides that get put into the soil from farming.

2. Unplug all electronics when they aren't in use or when you leave the house

Leaving electronics plugged in uses energy even when those appliances may not be in use. Unplugging them is easy and only takes a few seconds and could prevent a potential fire in your house as well! 

3. Buy green cleaning products 

Organic cleaning products clean without the use of chlorine or petroleum, both of which end up in the eco-system when you use them! 

4. Use a bike or walk when going on short errands

Photo Courtesy of www.lifehacker.com

5. Change lightbulbs in your house to CFL bulbs

CFL bulbs last ten times longer than regular bulbs and use only 1/4 of the energy and produce 90% less heat.

6. Donate old clothes from your closet

Photo Courtesy of www.realsimple.com

7. Avoid exfoliating scrubs with microbeads in them

Exfoliating micro beads are plastic pellets that end up in the water in our ecosystem and can harm animals

Those are just some of the many things you can do this Friday April 22 for Earth Day! Happy Conserving! 

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Birthwood Gives Back To The Community

Here at the studio, we recently received an email from a woman in Canada that we couldn't keep from sharing. She reached out to us because of an event at the high school her daughter goes to, and here is part of the email she sent us: 

"Well where do I start. Dorset Collegiate is located just outside of a little community in Pilleys Island, Newfoundland, Canada. There is approximately 160 students in total            ( grade 7-12). 6 different community kids goes to this school. So everyone knows everyone.

Our safe grad program started up a few years ago with just a handful of teachers/parents and minimal decorations and prizes. Now it's grown into something a bit bigger and better thanks to generous donations/prizes from some amazing companies. We separate into groups,,decide on themed rooms. For example this year we have a camo room, Hawaiian room, wildly winks and the chocolate factory room and cafe room. Not to mention the gym has a bouncy pirate ship for the graduates to play. There's a dance and also a breakfast at daylight. All during the night kids go from room to room, have snacks, play games, win prizes. They LOVE this. We do this for them to keep them safe. A few years back a local graduated died because of a graduation party that wasn't sponsored by the school. She drowned, in a car accident on graduation night.

So now we do this to keep our kids safe. It is a drug and alcohol FREE night. They sign "contracts" pledging to stay FREE from its and it works. As parents we worry because grad night is huge scary night and now because of the safe grad we know our kids are INSIDE and SAFE. The kids also receive goodie bags when the come and sign in to the party. Once inside there is no going outside till its time to go home the next day."

She told us all of that information and asked if we would be interested in donating to the event so that the kids would have something special in their raffle as one of the prizes. We decided to give them a gift card that is good for one Birthwood ring from our Birthwood line.  We love to be a part of the community, whether it is the Chicago community or a bigger one. Part of why we do what we do at Simply Wood Rings is to give back to the Earth and the community, so we are extremely excited by this opportunity. We are very honored to be asked to do such a thing, and we hope that the winner loves the ring!

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While You Are Here

While here, Pilsen, Chicago, Simply Wood Rings, While visiting pilsen

Did you know that you can visit our shop at any time and see all our rings in person? You can! We love to have visitors see where all the rings are made. While you are visiting, there are so many things to do in our neighborhood, that we made a list of all of them. We have a brand new page that shows all of our favorite places in the Pilsen neighborhood that you can check out while here. We have a comprehensive list of places to shop, drink. eat, and listen to music or see art. 

Pilsen, Simply Wood Rings, While Visiting, While in Pilsen, Wood Rings
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Mother’s Rings!

    Mother's Ring

Mother's Day is fast approaching, and we have the perfect ring for a Mother or Mother-to-be. We have taken the concept from Birthwood and came up with the design for a ring that is centered around a mother and her child or multiple children. 

The Mother's Ring is the idea that you would take a mother's birthwood and use it as the base wood for a ring, then inlay the birthstones of however many children she has in the center. You can use this idea for a grandmother, mother, sister, wife, or any woman in your life who has children. This is also a perfect ring for men as Father's Day approaches!

Mother's Ring using the Birthwood Willow and inlays of Opal and Black Pearl 

Another way you can make a ring for your mother, grandmother, or wife is by using the concept from our Sitting in a Tree Ring. This ring uses the birthwood that represents the anniversary of the couple as the base wood, then has inlays of the birthwoods that represent the parents sandwiching inlays of the children's birthstones in the center. 

Sitting in a Tree Ring with Cherry as the base wood, with inlays of Walnut, Imperial Topaz, Amethyst, and Pine.

​Both ideas make for a very unique present to give the woman in your life! If you order your Mother's Ring between now and May 8th, you will receive a free container of ring balm and an extra special surprise. If you do want to receive the ring by Mother's Day, make sure to get your order in by March 31st!

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Wood Ring Tales – Stephanie and Don

In today's edition of Wood Ring Tales, we have featured Stephanie and Don! This couple had a really incredible wedding in the San Juan Islands. They ordered a pair of our Seashore's Muse wedding rings, which you can see in the pictures below. Stephanie is a fellow blogger and she wrote a little piece about their rings and wedding at www.Earthboxinn.com. Here is a snippet of her post below! 

“I’m Steffi. I have been with the Earthbox Inn & Spa for 10 years. I write this blog, respond to you on Trip Advisor, manage group bookings, among other things. A couple of years ago I fell in love. Hard. With a single Dad from Kirkland. For the first year of us dating, we saw each other only every other weekend. Until I moved to Kirkland last year, we had never seen each other on a Wednesday.

Late last year, when visiting our friend Laura, the owner of the Earthbox Inn & Spa, sipping coffee on her patio, watching whales swim by, we decided to get married. On South Beach, on the first full moon of the New Year.

We wanted unique rings with meaning to us and decided on Rosewood rings with a Mother of Pearl inlay. The wild rose is our flower and everything we do is by the sea. Simply Wood Rings, a small company in Chicago, made them and kindly held our hands through the process as we worried that they wouldn’t be ready in time.

Don and the kids went to Southbeach several hours before the wedding to build a bonfire. It was raining hard. When I arrived the rain stopped and our small group of guests was gathered around a raging fire, sipping hot coco and coffee. My stepdaughter led us down a path to the beach, to a driftwood arch, decorated with balloons, seashells and bones, courtesy of Don & the kids. A couple of sea lions swam by, checking us out. It was absolutely still but the sound of little low tide waves lapping onshore. Therese did her magic and lot’s of laughter and some tears later we were husband and wife. We returned to the fire for champagne and toasts and stayed until the sun set dramatically and gorgeously after the rain.”

Stephanie and Don also provided us with some awesome photos from the ceremony, which was photographed by Jon Sinclair. 

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How to Compost in an Apartment or House

Image from biocycle.net

Here at Simply Wood Rings, we are always looking for ways to be more environmentally conscious. Composting is a wonderful way to help the environment and really doesn't take much effort! In Chicago, most people live in small apartments or condos, and therefore composting outdoors isn't an option. There is another way to compost, which is by using a bucket and some friendly red worms! We  started our own compost bin here at the Simply Wood Rings shop, and it's been a wonderful addition to the shop!

Food Scraps and yard waste make up 30 percent of what we throw away, and are the largest category of municipal waste going into landfills and incinerators. Food scraps in landfills not only take up space but release methane which is a potent greenhouse gas. Composting helps keep these items out of landfills and provides you with rich soil that can help your houseplants grow or you can donate it to a local urban farm. 

Here is a chart from Sustainable America that can help you start your own compost bin! 

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How To Order Your Simply Wood Ring

wood ring, wedding ring, custom ring, wood ring builder, engagement ring

The thought of buying a wooden ring or a custom wood ring for that matter can be overwhelming to some. The buying process of any ring can be overwhelming if you don't know the specifics or your size or what you are looking for. We want your buying experience with Simply Wood Rings to be super easy! We try to make it as easy as possible no matter what type of ring you want. but if you are hesitant at all to order because you don't know where to begin, we can help! Here are the steps and information you would need to order a ring from us!

The first step when buying a ring is to figure out your size. Most people don't know how to figure out their ring size, and that's totally fine! We have another blog post that can help you figure out your size, which you can read here or you can order a plastic ring sizer from us  by clicking here!

custom ring, inlay, wedding ring, wooden ring, engagement ring, simply wood rings

The next step would be to think about what you want your ring to look like. If you look on our site you can see all the options that we have In-Stock and those are good to order if you need a ring ASAP. Click here to view all our In-Stock rings!  It's also a good way to gain some inspiration for a custom order if you decide to go that route. If you do decide on a custom ring order, the next step would be to either use our Custom Ring Builder tool on the site or email us at craftsman@simplywoodrings.com. The Custom Ring Builder tool can be found here, and it is a fast and easy tool to plan and design your ring. Some people have more complicated custom orders or provide materials for us to use, and in that case you would email us and our master order-taker Sara would help you. She would put together a list of the materials you want to use and the pricing for them and then all you have to do is pay online!

If you do go the route of sending in materials for us to work with, the next step in the buying process would be to send us those materials! Once we get them, we can start your ring. Otherwise, once you place your order online, the turnaround time for us to ship out your ring is 5-6 weeks. You do have the option to expedite your order for $65 and that would get it to you in 2-3 weeks time. Also if you spend over $125 on an order you receive free shipping!

One of the best ways to get an idea of what you want and what types of wood we work with etc is by coming in to visit us in the shop. When you schedule a visit, we will size you, show you around the shop, show you all the different inlays and types of wood we have, and can make a custom order in person with us. Our shop is at 1500 S. Western Ave in Chicago. We love meeting people in person and showing them the process of how we make our rings. Even if you don't want to purchase a ring and just see where we call home, that is fine too. Call us today to schedule your appointment! 

We hope this helps with your purchase and makes the whole process easier! 

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How To Make Valentine’s Day Cards From Recycled Paper!

Valentine's Day, Cards, Paper, Recyle

We are an eco-friendly business and are always thinking of ways to reduce, reuse, and recycle everything around us. With Valentine's Day coming up, we wanted to offer directions for how to make your own homemade paper from paper scraps lying around! This is a good way to recycle and reuse, and is also going to make your cards unique from all other cards! 

How To Make Paper

Tear scrap paper into small pieces.

Each piece should measure no larger than roughly 1 inch (2.54 cm).

Make a frame.

This step can be done while your paper scraps are soaking.

  • Cut a hole in the bottom of a disposable brownie pan. An aluminum pan is best, as it can be cut using sharp scissors. The hole should be rectangular and 1 inch (2.54 cm) smaller on all sides than the bottom of the pan.
Paper making, recycling, valentine's day
  • Place a piece of screen or wire mesh in the pan. To keep it from falling through the hole, simply cut it the size of the pan bottom.
Make a slurry of paper pulp.
  • Fill a blender with warm water, halfway. Add some of the shredded and soaked paper--about a handful. At medium speed, blend the water and paper until it takes on a soupy consistency.
  • Pour the slurry into a large tub. Fill the tub with warm water. Mix the tub contents until they are evenly incorporated. At this point you can add food coloring if you want to make colored paper!
  • Holding the pan level, shake all the extra water out. Use your hands to press the pulp against the screen to get more water out. 
  • Place the frame on a clean, dry towel and press paper out onto towel.
  • Place another towel on top of paper, and roll over with a rolling pin to get extra water out.
  • Peel paper off towel and set somewhere to dry overnight.

Voila!  You have your own homemade paper for Valentine's Day cards! Cut into whatever shape you want and send to your friends and family!

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Eco-Friendly Valentine’s Day Guide

Valentine's day is just around the corner, and it's never too early to start planning a date or gift for that special someone in your life! There are so many places to go and gifts to choose from in a city as big as Chicago, but we are here to help you be as socially and environmentally conscious as possible as you plan for Valentine's day. As an Eco-Friendly business we know of some great Eco-Friendly date spots in the city for all of our customers! We also have some great ideas for custom Valentine's day rings if you need an Eco-Friendly gift to give.  Keep reading to see our list of date spots and ideas for custom rings!

Date Spots

    One of the nation's premier conservatories with six multi-faceted greenhouses and two grand exhibition halls. Admission is always free! 

                          Located in the Andersonville neighborhood of Chicago, Hamburger Mary's uses all certified humane meat, recycled materials for packaging, and CFL and LED lights. 

    • Lincoln Park Conservatory - 2391 N. Stockton Dr. Chicago, Illinois 60614

                      Placed in Lincoln Park, this conservatory has some of the best plants and flowers around. It is also right next to the zoo if you feel like heading over afterwards!

    • Xoco - 449 N Clark St, Chicago, IL 60654

                  Rick Bayless' Restaurant XOCO features some of the best gourmet Mexican food around. XOCO has a massive rooftop garden and uses 40% less water than a standard restaurant of comparable size, making it a great green establishment.

            This restaurant's water is heated by solar panels on the roof, all of the wood products are from fallen trees in Jackson Park, and both its locations feature rooftop gardens.

    • Trattoria 10 - 10 N Dearborn St #1, Chicago, IL 60602

Named one of the first "Guaranteed Green" restaurants in Chicago in 2010, this upscale dining experience features all locally sourced food. 

Ring Ideas

February is the month of the Birthwood Hackberry! Our Hackberry Birthwood ring with its amethyst birthstone inlay is a perfect Valentine's day gift. Maybe there is a different month that is special to you or your partner? You can always go to our birthwood page and customize a ring by combining any Birth Wood with any birthstone inlay.

​Check out our Birthwood Page here!

                                                                                                                                        Amethyst                                                                                                                                                                    

Hackberry Birthwood Ring with Amethyst Inlay

Another ring  combination we offer that may be a good Valentine's day gift is our Saltstone Inlay Ring. You can combine this inlay with any type of wood you want! Head over to our custom orders page to get started making this ring.

View our Custom Ring Builder by clicking here!

Our "Sitting in a Tree" ring is another great idea for a gift. This style is completely customizable and it brings the whole family together with inlays of birthwoods for the parents and the stones inlays that represent the months of the children's birthdays.​ You can get this for a Mother or Father, or even a Grandmother or Grandfather.  If you and your significant other are expecting your first baby this year, it would be the perfect symbolization of your family together! Here is a video below showing the "Sitting in a Tree" style of ring. 

View our "Sitting in a Tree" Page here!

You can also always check out our In-Stock rings page if you want something sent to you immediately! We have lots of great rings just waiting to be given to a special person in your life. 

We hope this helps in your Eco-Friendly Valentine's Day endeavors! 

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Ideas For Customizing Your Ring

Custom orders are our favorite thing to make here at the shop. We love having a personal story to work with and innovative materials to use. This way, we are able to use your stories, traditions, and memories in a ring that you can wear and show off. Expanding our craft by using  new, creative materials is exciting for us and for the customer! It isn't every day you get to have the chance to make a completely customized ring with materials that are special to you. 

Sometimes it is difficult to figure out where exactly to start when making a custom wood ring. We allow customers to provide us with wood, materials for inlays, and stones. We also appreciate when customers send us sketches like the one pictured above! We have a custom ring builder tool on our website which you can find by clicking here.
 

Here is a list of materials we have used in the past:

  • Chili pepper seeds - A couple planted a chili pepper plant when they first started dating, and we used the chili pepper skin and seeds as an inlay in their rings.
  • Flower from first date - one customer dried and saved a flower from her first date and used the petals as an inlay in her ring and the stem as an inlay for her significant other.
  • Wood from a swing where a couple had their first kiss - we used this wood as a base for the couples' rings.
  • Snakeskin - A customer who has a pet snake sent us some of the skin that it shed to use as an inlay in a ring! 
  • Part of a barrel and vine from a vineyard - A customer who owns a vineyard provided us with the wood for the base and a vine to use as an inlay. 
  • Vintage rings from a family member capped in wood - Many customers have provided family heirloom rings to be capped with wood.
  • custom ring, wood ring, wedding ring, wooden ring, bent wood ring, wooden boxes,
  • Rocks and sand from where couples met
  • Wood from the 1700s passed down from a great uncle 
  • A baseball bat from a grandfather
  • ​Wood from an apple orchard in Wisconsin! 

If you are thinking of making a custom ring, think about the things you have that are special to you and contact us to see if we can use them! We love a challenge! 

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Size Matters

Ever wonder if size actually matters? When you are buying a ring for someone, it does!!

Wedding season is right around the corner, and if you are planning on getting wedding bands made or surprising someone with a proposal, you want to make sure the ring can actually be worn by that person, right? We have some tips for you so that your loved one can say "I do" and comfortably wear their ring at the same time.

Here is some of our favorite customers ring sizing stories.

  • Make up a story about a friend needing to figure out a ring size for their significant other and say you think yours has the same hand size.
  • One customer tried to use the "string test" while their partner was sleeping (the string test is not a preferred method). 
  • There are many customers who size a ring that their significant other already owns. If you're going to do this, be careful! Make sure the ring is a for their ring finger!
  • You can always ask a family member or friend to have them "try on" a ring. ("Hey, do you like this ring? Do you know your ring size? Oh mine is a 7, what's yours?")

Ring size is measured in millimeters based on the inner circumference of the band. The easiest way to get sized and make sure the size is accurate is to go to a professional jeweler. The jeweler will have a ring mandrel, which is a graduated metal wand with marks on it stating ring sizes.  If  you bring a jeweler a ring that your significant other wears on their ring finger, the jeweler can place it on the mandrel and get an accurate sizing. You can always purchase your own ring mandrel, but this is a more expensive option. 

There are also plastic ring sizers, which we sell here ! This is also one of the most accurate ways to size someone. 

​Another way is to use the string test. You just need a string (or even a strip of paper) and use it to wrap around the ring finger.
Then you can measure that length in millimeters and use the chart we have provided below to match the length up to the ring size.
Don't pull the string or paper too tight! You should be able to slide the string/paper off your finger without a struggle. 

If you can't get your significant other to a jeweler or need to be more secretive in general, we have ideas for that as well. If your significant other takes his or her ring off while they shower, you can grab the ring and place it on your finger and then make a mark on your finger where it falls. You can show a jeweler and have them size that part of your finger. You could also press the ring into a bar of soap and then measure the impression of the ring! Also don't forget, most mothers, sisters, or bestfriends can help by taking the person out and trying on rings together. 

In order to get the most accurate size, you should try to make sure your hands are room temperature! Hands shrink when cold and can swell in heat, which could result in an inaccurate sizing. Also, the wider the ring band, the tighter the ring will be. If you know you're going to purchase a 6mm or 8mm band, be sure to get sized with that width of a ring.Your ring should go on easy and come off hard. The worst thing imaginable is losing a ring because it is a little too big!! 

We're able to resize our wood rings 1/4 to 1/2 of a size. If the ring you order is off by more, we will need to remake the ring.
We hope this helps you in your ring sizing ventures! Remember you can always come into our shop to get sized.
We are located at 1500 South Western in Pilsen! Happy ring sizing!!

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Wood Ring Tales – Amy and Will

In this edition of Wooden Tales, we are featuring Amy and Will Cadena. These custom rings we made for Amy and Will are some of our favorite because we love the colors of the glass and the fact that they incorporated glass from their wedding ceremony. They also provided us with some amazing videos from their engagement and wedding ceremony! Here is their story and videos!

“We knew each other for about 8 years before we started dating. We worked for the same company, and did NOT get along. He traveled a lot, and after one of his trips, we ran into one another on a job and started talking. We became friends and the friendship quickly developed into more. Our first date was 2 days before Valentines day, where I happened to mention I wanted a tattoo of my favorite flower, a purple daisy. That Monday (Valentines Day), I was surprised at work with a beautiful bouquet of purple daisies. Yup, you guessed it, I was HOOKED! After dating for about 3 1/2 years, we got engaged. He proposed in front of our closest friends and family at a vineyard. He sat us all down to take group picture (he's a photographer), then had our dog run to me, wearing the ring on his collar. When I looked up, he was in front of me, on one knee. I was completely surprised! We couldn't wait to start our lives together, and 6 months later we were married!

About the glass...I am Jewish, and Will is Catholic. Neither one of us come from a religious family, but we both are "spiritual" and while we didn't want a religious ceremony, we did want to include some traditions from both religions. At the end of a Jewish wedding ceremony, the groom breaks a glass. This has a few meanings and the reason we included the tradition in our ceremony was it is meant to remind us that marriage is as fragile as glass, and to demonstrate how life is so fragile that the couple should enjoy every day as if it were their last together. While some just use a lightbulb or wine glass, Will and I chose to buy a special piece of glass that we could then use after the wedding. We chose that specific glass because the colors were a combination of our favorite colors, and even though it was in a cloth during the ceremony so nobody saw it, it also happened to match our wedding colors.

Again, Thank you for your beautiful work, we are SO HAPPY with the rings, we love wearing them, and telling people all about what they mean and where we got them! “

Engagement Video

Wedding Video

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Helpful Tips For Making Your Wedding Or Engagement Ring Last Longer

We love all types of rings, but one of the reasons we create and love wood rings is the fact that they don't last forever. Part of our philosophy is to be in the present moment and live for the now. When you take off your wood ring and take a moment to reflect on the fact that it doesn't last forever, it creates a moment of zen. We only have what is in front of us, and we can't promise forever about anything. Even metal rings and diamonds don't necessarily promise forever. A wooden ring has an ephemeral nature to it, which we really appreciate because it reflects back on human existence. Taking care of what is in front of us at the moment and having a mindful existence is one of the most powerful things we can give ourselves in life, and wooden rings reminds us of that. Fortunately there are ways to make your wood ring last longer! We created a list of activities that aren't the best for any type of ring to help inform you of when you should take off your rings!

wedding rings, engagement rings, wood rings, wooden rings, how to take care of rings, simply wood rings

Activites that could harm your wedding or engagement ring

  • Washing your hands, dishes, or showering
There are many reasons you should take your wedding or engagement ring off when submerging your hands in water. First of all, soap that is used in such activities leaves a residue on most things. With metal rings, the residue can change the color of the metal and create a tarnish, or just dull the ring in general. Soap residue also affects any stones that are set in rings. The stone will not look as bright over time and will also have a film of residue coating it. The way water and soap affect a metal ring is the same way it would affect a wooden ring. With  a wooden ring, the finish would start to wear off over time and the soap would leave a residue as well. Of course the occasional hand washing or shower is fine for both materials, but you want to be diligent about taking off your rings. 

  • Getting in a swimming pool or any body of water 
In a swimming pool, all of the chlorine will affect a ring no matter what material it is made from. Chemicals like chlorine can severely damage a metal or wooden ring. Also when you submerge yourself in any body of water, if the water is colder than your body temperature your fingers can shrink in size, potentially causing your ring to fall off. 

wedding rings, engagement rings,  wooden rings, wood ring, how to care for your ring, ring care, simply wood rings,
  • Working out or playing sports
Anytime your body heats up and you are using your hands to grip something, you run the risk of bending your metal ring. Most fine metals are pretty soft and malleable, so it is possible to change the shape of the ring during these activities which could also change the setting in which your stone is set. When a stone setting gets moved out of place, it makes the stone more liable to fall out over time. A wooden ring shape wouldn't be affected by working out but sweating while wearing it could affect the finish and dull it over time. 

  • Using household cleaners 
It goes without saying that when you put metal or wood in chemicals or any sort, it will inevitably mess up the ring in some way. For metal it can drastically change the color and could create a totally different looking ring. Most cleaners have ammonia and bleach in them, which is bad for any type of metal. For wood rings, same thing applies. It can change the color or wear off the finish that is put on a wood ring. If you have a stone in the ring, it can really dull the appearance of that stone as well.

wooden rings, engagement rings, wedding rings, wood ring, simply wood rings, how to care for rings

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Sitting In A Tree

Our Birthwood line of wooden rings is expanding! We now offer Mother's Rings within our Birthwood line of rings! We have titled these  the "Sitting in a Tree" rings in reference to the old "kissing" playground song. With these rings, you can really mix and match the Birth Woods and inlays in any way you please. In the video below, we have a ring that uses a couples' wedding month as the main wood for the ring, then has inlays of wood to represent both partners' birth months sandwiching two more inlays of birthstones which represent their two children.  You can take this concept and make it into any combination you would like to represent your own children, grandchildren, partners, or even pets! The options are endless. Watch the video below to see the Sitting in a Tree Ring we just finished! 

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Simply Wood Rings Holiday Party At Lagunitas Brewery

Happy Holidays from Simply Wood Rings! Our team recently celebrated the holidays at Lagunitas Brewery, which is right down the block from our shop in the Pilsen neighborhood. They have free beer tastings daily and have some of the best beer in Chicago. You can visit their website here for more information on their brewery! Here are some pictures from our trip! 

Simply Wood Rings, Lagunitas
Simply Wood Rings, Lagunitas
Simply Wood Rings, Lagunitas
Simply Wood Rings, Lagunitas
Simply Wood Rings, Lagunitas
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Simply Wood Rings Birthwood Feature!

A Lily Love Affair recently featured our Birthwood rings on their blog! 

Simply Wood Rings, Birthwood, Wood Rings

We are so honored to have Anna Baun from the blog A Lily Love Affair review our Birthwood Rings! Anna's blog is a wonderful mix of everything fashion and Chicago related. She took the image above of her ring which is her birth month, March, and features Ash wood and an aquamarine birthstone inlay. Our Birthwood rings have a specific  type of wood associated with each month, which can be your birth month or a month to signify something else that is important to you. You then have the option to put in an inlay of a birthstone, or many birthstones if you would like. Anna said in her blog post she is going to get one for her mom for Mother's Day, which is an awesome idea! We also offer the option of making a Birthwood ring into a Mother's ring, using the birthstones of each child as an inlay. You can really customize these rings to make something completely unique for someone you love. 

Go read her blog post HERE

Also check out the rest of our Birthwood rings and see what your birth wood is by clicking below!!!

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Simply Wood Rings Holiday Gift Guide!

simply wood rings holiday gift guide

As the holidays approach, it's important to make sure you get something thoughtful and unique for the special people in your life. We decided to put together a gift guide of wooden gift and eco-friendly products that we love for the holidays!

Beer Bottle Candle www.reusefirst.com- This company is based in Chicago and recycles alcohol bottles by turning them into beautiful candles. Get the kind of beer your best friend likes and you have the perfect present to give. 

Simply Wood Rings Holiday Guide

Nick Offerman Ornaments www.offermanwoodshop.com - Everyone's favorite woodworker from Parks and Rec created some awesome Christmas ornaments for the season. 

Wooden Sunglasseswww.woodzee.com - Get your loved one some awesome wooden sunglasses for the summer months! 

Simply Wood Rings Holiday Guide

Eco-Friendly Bamboo Toothbrushwww.pearlbar.com - Who wouldn't want to save the environment while brushing their teeth? Perfect for the eco-conscious aunt everyone has. 

Simply Wood Rings Holiday Guide

Mid-Century Stacking Trays www.brassandbark.com - Another Chicago based company, specializing in Mid-Century wooden products!

Simply Wood Rings Holiday Guide

Wooden Iphone Speakerswww.koostik.com - The gift for the technology loving friend in your life. All items made by Koostik are Eco-Friendly as well.

Simply Wood Rings Holiday Guide

Wood Hand Spoonwww.ariele-alasko.squarespace.com - A really unique gift, made by the talented woodworker Ariele Alasko. We just love all her creations. 

Simply Wood Rings Holiday Guide

Wooden Watchwww.springbreakwatches.com- A classy wooden watch, perfect for the man or woman in your life. 

Simply Wood Rings Holiday Guide

Wooden Serving Bowlwww.windandwillow.com - A wooden serving bowl is the perfect present for the hostess of your holiday celebrations. 

Black Label Chapstickwww.blacklabelchap.com - Eco-friendly chapstick makes for the perfect stocking stuffer! 

Simply Wood Rings Holiday Guide

Also remember you can always grab one of our wooden rings as a present for your loved ones as well! Shop some of our in-stock rings and order now to get them in time for the holidays! 

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What Makes Simply Wood Rings Eco-Friendly?

Simply Wood Rings is an eco-conscious company. You may be asking yourself “what does that even mean?” since we use wood for our rings. First of all, we do not cut down trees just for rings! This is a misconception that is frequently believed. We get our wood from a number of places, which I will explain below!

One place we get wood from is a company called Horigan Urban Forest Products. They recycle the urban forest here in Chicago to it’s highest possible uses. They use the same trees that go to firewood or mulch and turn them into usable hardwood lumber. They are committed to the environment by reducing the number of trees removed from the forest, the amount of fuel consumed for transportation, and the amount of carbon that is released into the atmosphere by sequestering it as hardwood lumber. Their beautiful wood is produced without a single tree being removed for lumber. All wood is originated from Chicago, Il.

We also get wood from artists and cabinet makers that have businesses in our building, the Midland building. The Midland Art and Design building is a collective of local artisans, craftsmen, and their respective companies. All M.A.D. members work under one roof and they design, create, showcase, and sell all forms of work + products within the Midland Building. Midland Art and Design is made up of furniture designers, print makers, installation artists, fashion designers, woodworkers, sculptors, and much more. So much lumber is left over from their projects, so we reuse that wood for our rings. It’s basically like dumpster diving and repurposing right in our own building.

One of the coolest ways we get our wood is from an old xylophone factory in Chicago. All of our rosewood comes from xylophone keys that were bought from that factory. The building is in Ravenswood and is called the Deagan building after the family that owned the xylophone factory. Now the building houses small companies, one of which is a glass factory.

Another cool way we get wood is that sometimes customers provide the wood they want us to use and then if they are really nice they will let us keep the leftover wood! We have been given baseball bats, part of a swing, a grandfather’s cane, and part of a barn door. These are all such awesome pieces and we get really excited when we are offered the chance to work with new wooden items.

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Wood Ring Tales- Keenan and Hayley

Welcome to our second installation of Wood Ring Tales! Here is the story of Keenan and Hayley, which features a very special customized ring! 

"Hayley was born and raised in Minnesota. I just moved from Colorado to Florida. When we met, we were both camping on Cayo Costa, a small island off the coast of Fort Myers. When we met for the first time I wasn’t bareback on a white stallion… It was actually pouring rain and I was running to camp to set up before the rest of my group arrived - and that's when I saw her.

Hayley is different; I knew she was from the moment I met her. And because of this I knew I needed to give her a ring that wasn’t the same as everyone else’s.

Hayley and I were dating about a month later. She lived in Minnesota and I still lived in Florida. The end of the following summer I wanted her to meet my parents in Colorado. It was on that trip that I cooked her dinner on top of the mountain that overlooks my hometown. It was on that mountain where I first told Hayley that I loved her. And it is wood and rock from that mountain that make up the inner part of the ring that I gave to her.

Wood and rock from Colorado, a diamond from Florida, and I proposed in Minnesota. Hayley says it’s the coolest ring she has ever seen."

Minnesota, Colorado, Florida
Minnesota, Florida, Colorado

You can make your own custom ring, just click on the link below! 

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Top 5 Eco-Friendly Instagram Accounts We Love!

In our culture, Instagram is one of the top ways to connect with others and see what is out there in the world. Instagram currently has over 300 million users, crazy right? I’m sure you have an Instagram account, but if not, go get yourself one because we have a list of Instagram accounts you should definitely be following (not to mention our account, @simplywoodrings) ! We adore Eco-friendly businesses and products, since we are an Eco-friendly business ourselves. Every product out there has an impact on the world, and we love products that care about our planet as much as we do. Here is our list of the 5 Eco-friendly, sustainable Instagram accounts you need to follow now.

      1. Canned Goods Co. @cannedgoodsco

      This business is based in Denver, and they turn tin cans into jewelry. Furthermore, they provide one can of food to a reputable charity through a program called Can Do Good. How much cooler could they be? Their designs are amazing and range from earrings to bracelets. Their company motto is “I Can Do Good, You Can Do Good, We Can Do Good Together”. 

      2. Coffee Sock @coffeesock

      We are all avid coffee drinkers at the shop, so this one was an obvious choice. Coffee Sock provides reusable coffee filters, that are made of organic cotton and by people making a fair wage. It is a family based company from Austin, Texas, which is totally awesome in our opinion. Their Instagram account is comprised of artfully curated photos that really make us want a cup of coffee when we look at them.

      3. Razimus Jewelry @razimusjewelry

      This Instagram is extremely colorful and full of life because all the products are made of the most beautiful, colorful fabrics. The company makes jewelry wrapped in Eco-friendly fabrics, while all the fabrics are either vintage or organic and plant dyed. The mission of the company gives new life to old fabrics and supports the production of organic fabric in the world. Also the jewelry is amazing.

      4. Purusha People @purushapeople

      Purusha People is for all you yogis out there. This line of yoga clothing is so fun and looks like it would be extremely comfortable to work out in, or just sit on the couch in. They take pride in sourcing the most organic and softest fibers possible, using non-toxic water based inks and low impact dyes, and paying workers a livable wage locally in Los Angeles. The photography on their page is gorgeous and very aesthetically pleasing. Definitely make sure to check out their sparkly purple amethyst goddess leggings. They also sell baby leggings!

      5. Sons of Sawdust @sonsofsawdust

      This team of brothers has a super inspiring story of resilience and strength when times were hard for them. They created their business at a time when nothing seemed possible for either of them, but they made something out of nothing. They use reclaimed wood and make beautiful furniture and items out of it. You should definitely follow their Instagram and visit their website to read the entire story of how they came to be, I don’t want to ruin it for you.

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          Wood Ring Tales – Stefan and Linda

          We love having a personal relationship with all our customers at Simply Wood Rings. We pride ourselves on making wood rings that are extremely meaningful for our customers, and seeing a happy customer is an experience that is irreplaceable. We do so many types of inlays and custom orders, that it is easy for a customer to make a really personal wood wedding ring that is close to their hearts. Recently we have been collecting customer stories to share with you, and here is the story of Linda and Stefan!

          “Our relationship began in February 2010 while we were both attending college at the University of California at Santa Cruz, a campus surrounded by a lush redwood forest. Our mutual friend first introduced us to each other. We instantaneously gravitated towards each other and began to have many adventures together. From the beginning, our relationship was filled with conversations about our faith, family and dreams. Our friendship grew and was tested during several years of having a long-distance relationship. But, adversity has had a way of strengthening us and helping us grow more in love with each other.

          Redwood has great significance for us, symbolizing where we met geographically and our strong foundation. We also really like the idea of the chunks of sea glass in our inlay. Sea glass is a thing of beauty despite battling years of struggle in the ocean. In the same way, our specific relationship has faced several years of struggle through a long-distance relationship. But, despite this, our love for one another remains (and will always remain) a thing of beauty throughout any times of hardship.

          Lastly, including guitar strings on Stefan's wedding ring was a more personal touch since his passion is performing on the guitar and studying music. However, the two strings Stefan chose are the low and high 'E' strings of the guitar. These two notes are a perfect octave apart also commonly known as the "basic miracle of music". This is a unique relationship: "two and yet one". The sonic quality of the octave allows the projection of the infinity of tones into one octave space. So, then, the octave is considered a representation of the infinite.”

          Linda and Stefan have a pair of wood wedding rings that were so fun for us to make and really unique. Hearing the reasons why they picked the wood and inlay that they did makes the ring just that much more special. The inlay they used also includes mother of pearl and sapphire, which we call here the "Stefan Stone Inlay". We know that their wood rings will definitely be a conversation piece whenever they go somewhere! We would like to thank Stefan and Linda for sharing their story with us, and stay tuned to our blog for more customer stories in the future!

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          Simply Wood Rings Featured on PayPal’s Website!

           

          The founder of Simply Wood Rings, Gustav Reyes, was recently interviewed by PayPal to discuss his involvement in their program called PayPal Working Capital. This program has already provided over 1 Billion dollars to small companies all over the world to help them finance their dreams. At Simply Wood Rings, we really wanted to upgrade our website and make it more user friendly and accessible for everyone. The only way we could have gained the capital we needed to grow our business was with this initiative! Everyone knows that small businesses have a hard time as it is, but PayPal has made our lives so much easier. We use PayPal here on a daily basis and they have really helped us realize our dreams as an ever-growing business. You can watch Gustav discuss how thankful Simply Wood Rings is to be able to have the opportunity to grow by clicking here!

           

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          Introducing Birthwood by Simply Wood Rings

          Birthwood by Simply Wood Rings

          Simply Wood Rings Celebrates with Birthwood

          We here at Simply Wood Rings are excited to announce the launch of a new line called Birthwood!  The name itself is pretty enticing, so you are probably asking yourself, what exactly is a Birthwood?  Birthwood is more of an idea than one type of wood. It incorporates numerous kinds of wood and uses the wood’ s symbolization to represent all types of life in its message.
          The tree has been a symbol for humans throughout our time on Earth, spanning histories, geographies, religions, and mythologies.  It is a symbol of the interconnections of all life, reaching out to the sky with its branches and down into the Earth with its roots.  Trees breath life into the world we live in, and help give birth to new life every day.  Staying true to these ancient ideas we have created Birthwood as a representation of each client according to which month and tree they were born under.  These ideas pull heavily from Celtic and Native American beliefs and folklore and focus on the way that we inevitably carry a connection with us to all other living things on earth.
          My birthday is actually in a few days, and I learned that my Birthwood for October is maple.  The maple tree symbolizes offering, generosity, balance, promise and practicality.  I can’t say that I wouldn’t want a Birthwood piece of jewelry for my birthday this month (hint hint to anyone who knows me personally).  This new line is perfect for gifting to a special person in your life as a birthday present or a present to represent a new start in someone’s life. Below is a list of every month and their specific type of wood, take a look to see what your personal wood type is!

           

          January- Birch
          The birch tree is a symbol of rebirth and renewal.
          February – Hackberry
          The hackberry tree symbolizes wisdom, strength of will, and intuition.
          March- Ash
          The ash tree symbolizes peace of mind, sensitivity, and awareness.
          April- Walnut
          Walnut is a symbol of universal wisdom and knowledge.
          May- Elm
          The elm tree is a symbol of strength, family tradition, and loyalty.
          June- Oak
          Oak symbolizes truth, knowledge, strength of character, and motivation.
          July- Cherry
          The cherry tree symbolizes strong expression and compassion.
          August- Applewood
          The apple tree which produces fruit from midsummer to early autumn is a symbol of strength, gentleness, abundance, and giving.
          September- Willow
          The willow tree symbolizes imagination, intuition, and vision.
          October- Maple Tree
          Maple symbolizes the tree of offering, generosity, balance, promise, and practicality.
          November- Cedar
          The cedar tree is symbolic of healing and cleansing.
          December- Pine
          The pine tree symbolizes creativity, peace, and harmony.

          Stay tuned for more information regarding our new line in the upcoming weeks!

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          The Story of My Wood Rings

          This is Julie here, you may know me as one of the friendly email respondents (unless you’ve talked to Sara or Matthew, they’re also pretty friendly- especially when you give them snacks).

          I’m here to tell you the story behind my husband and I’s wedding rings and what they mean to us, but first I will tell the story of how we met.  3

          John and I met in Milwaukee, Wisconsin (via one of the online dating sites, we were both skeptical about the whole process at the time, but no longer!), while I was still in grad school earning my MFA and he had just graduated law school.  We met at a local coffee shop down by the lake and proceeded to have the best date of our lives, unable to stop talking we walked around the lake for hours and then decided to continue our date with dinner and then a movie.

          Almost a year later, one MFA later, and one almost healed broken ankle later (his), we decided to move to back to Chicago where he was from.  On our one year anniversary we went out to celebrate and he surprised me by proposing down by Lake Michigan (in Chicago this time)!

          When it came time to decide on what type of wedding rings we wanted I had been working at Simply Wood Rings for a while where I would ogle the wooden rings on the daily.  It seemed the obvious choice to have our rings made by Simply Wood Rings.

          materials

          We wanted to use wood that was special to us from the places we came from and wood from where we met.  For the outside of the rings we choose the rosewood that we have in the shop at SWR.  The rosewood is not only amazing for how beautiful the wood is but also because it is a piece of Chicago history having been salvaged from an old Xylophone factory that shut down here in Chicago.  For the lining of our rings we used a 100 year old maple floor board that our friend salvaged from the Turner Hall Ballroom in Milwaukee after it’s renovation.

          Ring boxes

          Since we didn’t want to use a third wood in our rings we decided to use a piece of wood from my home state of South Carolina for our ring boxes instead.  For the boxes my parents lovingly trimmed (I’m sure with very little grumbling), a broken branch from the dogwood tree in their backyard and sent it to me.

           

          We decided to also get my vintage engagement ring capped with the rosewood and lined with the maple to match my wedding band.

          SWR Julie Doherty capped engagement ring

          For my wedding band I chose a woven design with two lines that interweave around the ring.

          Rosewood woven design ringFor one line I used some pearls that I inherited from my late grandmother, and for the other line I wanted a mixture of malachite, chrysocolla, and turquoise to match the emerald in my engagement ring.

           

           

          Rosewood Meteorite Dinosaur Bone

           

          For my husband’s ring he chose to have a line of meteorite and a line of dinosaur bone, if for no other reason than because those materials are just awesome.

          We love our rings and I’m grateful to the talented crafts-people at Simply Wood Rings for creating something so beautiful for us!

          Thank you for reading my story, I hope it inspires you to think about what meaningful materials you can use in your own ring.  What WOOD your story be?

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          Wood Infinity Ring – Life without limits!

          Wood Infinity Ring by Simply Wood Rings

          Wood Infinity Wood Wedding Set by Simply Wood Rings

          Wood Infinity Ring 

          Infinity Symbol: unlimited extent of time, space, or quantity : Boundlessness

          The infinity symbol spans the ages, from modern code to a snake eating its own tail.  We like to believe the Wood Infinity Ring by Simply Wood Rings points to a self that knows no limits.  A self that loves with no limits, a self that makes this life better for others is truly a life without limits.

          Visit our custom wood ring page!

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          Mens Wood Wedding Rings

          Ladies is your man just too manly to wear jewelry?  Does he have a beard that makes other guys check their man cards.  

          Well check out a few of our mens wood wedding rings to go with that lumber jack attitude your dude exudes.   
          1

          Spaceman and Godzilla

          This wood ring is inlaid with

          DINOSAUR BONE & METEORITE

          DINOSAUR BONE & METEORITE

          2

          Dirty Harry

          This wood ring is inlaid with

          Brass Shotgun Shell Casing

          Brass Shotgun Shell Casing

          3

          Stainless Jack

          This wood ring is inlaid with

          Wood from a Jack Daniels Whiskey Barrel

          Jack Daniels Wood Ring

          Find You Manly Wood Ring

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          Alternative Wedding Ring Movement

          I never really thought that our wood wedding rings could start a movement. When Simply Wood Rings was just an idea I believed that the world could use an alternative to traditional wedding rings. I believed that to give the world a more natural, eco-friendly wedding ring that was in alignment with what it means to be human could be a good thing. There are now hundreds of men and women from all walks of life making wooden wedding rings. Early on I decide that when more and more makers made their way to this movement it could mostly be good.  Giving the world a truly green alternative wedding was just what we did.  We ask our customer to bring the stories their hearts and dreams to us and we can help them through the process of making a wood wedding ring that comes from a very authentic place that no amount of gold or diamonds could replicate.

          Alternative diamond Wedding Ring Movement
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          10 Years of Simply Wood Rings – A look back.

          This year Simply Wood Rings has been around for 10 years. It's still hard to believe that sentence, but its really something strange and wonderful to see happen. When I started down this creative path I was in my mid 30's. The journey started in my mid 30's with a lot of thought and mindful preparation, not so much on my part but on my wifes part. I sometime feel I'm just here for the ride. It has been a lot of hard work that feels great because you're driven by passion. I wouldn't have it any other way.

          In 10 years of Simply Wood Rings I've seen more of the world then in the 20 or so years before. I've connected with some of the most beautiful people in the world. I've been there for people at their lowest point in life and at their happiest and that has had a profound impact on my life. I have always believed that our wooden rings are a celebration of life and that hasn't change. We have been there with a young couple when they lost their newborn not in morning but celebrating that life. We have thousands of stories that our customers have shared with us thru the years. Many of them joyous and sad, but all of them celebrating life.

          We've made wooden rings for movies stars, CEO's and professional athletes. We were lampooned by Jay Leno in 2008 (see clip here) about our eco-friendly approach to making our wood wedding rings. In 2013 my work was accepted in the permanent collection of the Museum of Arts and Design in New York. For all that has happen I'm continually reminded that Simply Wood Rings is about the simple in life, the wonderfully beautiful simple of what life has to offer.

          Thank you for sharing these times with us we are honoured to be a small part of the process.

          baseball bat cufflinks
          lovers on a bench
          kissing on a rock
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          One Ring to Rule Them All: Lord of the Rings Wedding Band

          We talked amongst ourselves regarding the propriety of naming this post as we did. But when you woodburn a beautiful Elvish phrase onto a sweet ring, what are you supposed to name the post heralding its arrival?

          Behold, an all-good no-evil stainless steel ring with an oak liner: am meleth din, it reads. Or, if you don’t speak Elvish: for her love.

          Lord of the Rings Wedding Band

          It’s a beaut, aint’ it? [Insert more appropriate Lord of the Rings-related compliment here.]

          Other Elvish possibilities:

          Lle naa curucuar (you are a skillful bowman)
          Cormlle naa tanya tel’raa (you have the heart of a lion)
          Oio naa elealla alasse’ (ever is thy sight a joy) or perhaps a simple Melinyel (I love you).

          Want to make your own custom ring, inscribed with your own lovespeak?
          Drop us a line, by visiting our custom ring page here. 

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          Best Friends Forever: Custom Rosewood & Green Turquoise Ring Set

          “i carry your heart with me (i carry it in my heart) i am never without it (anywhere i go you go,my dear)” – e.e. cummings

          A client came to us with this design in mind: a puzzle ring set with a heart split between the two. The wood, medium rosewood; the inlay, a seafoam green (his partner’s favorite color.) We chose a green turquoise, and the resulting inlays feel marine indeed.

          The result is like a BFF pendant, but so much better. What better way to commemorate a marriage between best friends?

          Rosewood Green Turquoise Ring Set
          Rosewood Green Turquoise Ring Set
          Rosewood Green Turquoise Ring Set
          Rosewood Green Turquoise Ring Set
          Rosewood Green Turquoise Ring Set

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          Metal and Wood = Truly Awesome

          Ask us if we prefer wood rings to metal rings, and we’ll say wood every time (which should be no surprise to anyone.) However we also understand that the weight and feel of metal can feel familiar and comforting. But wood is beautiful!you protest. We agree! So here’s a nice compromise, a gateway to the wild and beautiful world of wood, where nature is the best designer.

          Here’s a series of metal rings with wood inlays, for your viewing pleasure. Enjoy!
          And do please give us a ring (ha!) if you’d like one of your own.

          Stainless Steel Maple Set
          Stainless steel with maple

          Stainless steel with oak rye barrel<
          Stainless steel with oak rye barrel

          Stainless steel with paduak
          Stainless steel with paduak

          Stainless steel with dark rosewood
          Stainless steel with dark rosewood

          Stainless steel with zebrawood
          Stainless steel with zebrawood

          Rosewood with silver inlay; silver with rosewood inlay
          Rosewood with silver inlay; silver with rosewood inlay

          Stainless steel with dark bogwood and turquoise inlay
          Stainless steel with dark bogwood and turquoise inlay

          Silver with rosewood; rosewood with malachite
          Silver with rosewood; rosewood with malachite

          Rose gold with walnut
          Rose gold with walnut

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          John Dart + SWR = Photomagic

          John Dart is an incredibly sweet man with a keen awareness for the life and noise around him, which is a great thing to have as a wedding photographer. He took photos of our work for the Chicago NotWedding last August, and here are the fruits of his labor!

          All images below are copyright John Dart, and he should be given credit when you post them all over tarnation in a fit of adoration!

          john dart chicago

          John Dart SWR Photomagic

          John Dart SWR Photomagic

          John Dart SWR Photomagic

          John Dart SWR Photomagic

          John Dart SWR Photomagic

          John Dart SWR Photomagic

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          Booth Photographics & SWR

          Stephanie and Stephen of Booth Photographics are basically the hero and heroine of the best, smartest kind of rom-com, only in the happily-ever-after phase. The husband-and-wife team make some mighty fine pictures, and we’re lucky that they pointed their lenses and careful eyes at our wares at the Chicago NotWedding in August. All images below are property Booth Photographics, so make sure to credit them when you spread the love!

          Booth Photographics

          Booth Photographics

          Booth Photographics

          Booth Photographics

          Booth Photographics

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          Megan Saul Photographs Simply Wood Rings!

          We were so happy to work with the talented and charming photographers at the NotWedding. Here’s the first of three posts showcasing their work.

          First up, the energetic and delightful Megan Saul, who photographed our NotWedding ring set, plus the Sky Blue Harmony set, and a hackberry, red jasper and black pearl set inspired by our NotWedding work.

          All images below are copyright Megan Saul. If you want to repost them (and you totally should!), make sure to give her the credit.

          Else-wise credit also goes to Dame Couture, who made the beautiful black-and-white gown, and Menguin, who made sure that the groom and his men folk looked sharp in tuxedos. For more information about all of the great Chicago NotWedding Vendors, head here!

          megan saul chicago

          Megan Saul Photographs Simply Wood Rings

          Megan Saul Photographs Simply Wood Rings

          Megan Saul Photographs Simply Wood Rings

          Megan Saul Photographs Simply Wood Rings

          Megan Saul Photographs Simply Wood Rings

          Megan Saul Photographs Simply Wood Rings

          Megan Saul Photographs Simply Wood Rings

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          Refreshed Rings

          A couple of years ago, a dear client named Abigail came to us with the idea for a ring that was also a proposal. “I love you. Will you marry me?” it would say, along the inside. The ring would be rosewood, and ash, with silver inlays. Ring designed and made, we sent it out into the world. The proposal went swimmingly! We made them bands.

          Recently it became clear that the engagement ring needed a refreshed design. We hopped to it! In the image below, you can see the first ring on the right, and the new one on the left. While we were at it, we refinished the bands to their original glory.  (All three “in use” rings are photographed on the euro Lucky Strike box they were sent back to us in!) Peep the “Sailor Jerry” wood burning, classic Seashore’s Muse, and a beautiful and very Victorian hair-inlay with rosewood and stainless steel.

           before and after walnut silver birch
          Abigail Rings Lucky Strike
          Rosewood Hair Sterling Ring
          Seashores Muse LOVED Woodburn
          Walnut Oak Silver Proposal Ring

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          Dress Up Like You: Spalted Maple, Walnut & Silver Cufflinks

          Spaulted Wood Cufflinks

          Getting dressed up is difficult for a lot of people. Maybe we’d rather wear jeans. (Today in the studio, all six of us are.) But maybe, too, the “formal” dress palette can seem limited. What you wear is an expression of who you are, or at the very least, it communicates nonverbally to those around you.For example: Gustav wears dark framed glasses; Amanda wears bright blue high-tops. Joe wears his favorite thrift store tees. Yolanda wears shirts featuring her favorite bands; Cesar wears a green hat every day. (It’s not his favorite hat. His favorite hat was some years ago eaten by an overly rambunctious Victorian bulldog named Malo.)At Simply Wood Rings, we like to think that we offer alternatives to the usual fare. Most often, it’s custom rings, but occasionally we’ll make a pendant or a set of earrings. Recently, we got to make a set of cufflinks, made of spalted maple with a walnut inlay and hand-worked fine silver.

          Aren’t they handsome?
          Spalted Maple Walnut Silver Cufflinks

          Spalted Maple Walnut Silver Cufflinks

          Interested in your own, or something else in your mind’s eye?

          Head on over to the Contact page, and send us an email! 

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          The Indie Wed/Wed Altered Pop Up Event

          The Indie Wed Altered Pop Up Event

          This Saturday, we’re heading to the Indie Wed Pop Up, at super cool space in Humboldt Park – The Living Room – to meet folks and have impromptu design appointments.

          Want to get in on the wonderland? Head here to buy a ticket, or email amanda (at) gustavreyes (dot) com to request a free ticket! We’ve got six to give away, so hop on it! Please include your full name and the number of tickets you need, and make sure to email by the end of Wednesday, September 24, 2014.

          See you there!

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          Breaking News! We are Moving to Pilsen

          we are monving
          This week we’re packing up the studio with care, and heading to the northwestern side of Pilsen. We’ll be sad to say goodbye to everyone at MANA, but we’re so excited to meet our new community at the Midland Building.

          Starting today, we’ll be able to receive mail at our new location, but will be accepting mail at our current location through early October.

          Please send refinishes and materials to 1500 S. Western Avenue, Chicago, IL 60608.

          We’ll post pictures as soon as it’s camera-ready!

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          So Fresh/So Clean/All`* Wood

          Check out, in all their glory, the rings we made for NotWedding couple Brian and Ashley. We can’t wait to see what super cool foto folks Megan Saul, Booth Photographics, and John Dart captured!

          not wedding ring set design

          not wedding engagement ring set design

          not wedding ring set design both bands

          See something you like? Head to the gallery to get even more inspiration!

          We loved meeting all of the vendors and guests! It was a great cap to a wonderful and productive summer! May autumn go smoothly and nicely for all1

          *Well, except for the goldleaf!

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          Nuts About Walnuts

          What do all of the following things have in common?
          Whole Walnut Kernel

          via Wikipedia

          walnut tree
          via Garden of Eden

          Nuts About Walnuts walnut inlay ring

          They’re all made of walnut!

          We love the Nuts About You ring for its monomaterial elegance: the wood is walnut, the inlay is crushed walnut.

          Walnut is — as we 21st century eaters know — FULL of Omega-3s and healthy fats, protein and a great woody umami taste. It’s also known for focus, energy, and strength. Its scientific name — juglans — translates to “tree of Jupiter,” the Roman god of the sky, (Zeus, for you Greek myth nerdlets out there). It’s a plant which unites pragmatic functionality and heroic strength.

          Convinced as we are? Head on over to the shop to get one on your functional, strong little finger.

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          “That Cool Ring”

          teardrop inlay ring sketch
          Interpretative design sketch by Allison

          It’s uncommon that we are brought an exact design that doesn’t change at all, but when one client came in, he knew exactly what he wanted: a teardrop-shaped cypress ring with an inlay mix of red coral, yellow jade, abalone, mother of pearl, and metal shavings. In components it was so complicated that we just took to calling it “That Cool Ring” as it moved through the production process.

          Now that it’s done, we see that it is a totally cool ring indeed.

          Have a clear image of what you want? Let us know!

          teardrop inlay ring

          teardrop inlay ring

          teardrop inlay ring

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          The 1st Chicago Not Wedding Engagement Ring!

          We’re so excited to be a part of the 1st Chicago NotWedding, “a bridal show in the form of a big fake wedding” for couples planning to say “I Do!” The fab to-do is next Thursday, but the amazing Megan Saul did a Save The Date shoot with Ashley and Brian, the NotWedding already-married couple. (All the photos below are Megan’s, save the ring and studio shots.)The Bread and Butterfly made Ashley’s beautiful floral headpiece, and Chykalophia the sweet printed cards below.

          And us? We made Ashley’s engagement ring!

          Chicago Not Wedding Engagement Ring photography session

          Chicago Not Wedding Engagement Ring photo megan saul photography

          Here it is up close! The concept for the wedding is “black tie,” and so we wanted to design a ring that united a crisp, modern, glamorous look with our warm natural aesthetic.

          Not Wedding Engagement Ring

          For the NotWedding engagement ring, we used salvaged juniper, crushed lava rock, white holly and gold leaf.

          american holly in the studio

          crushed lava in the studio

          gold leaf in the studio

          Chicago Not Wedding Engagement Ring

          Chicago Not Wedding Engagement Ring

          We can’t wait for the event, and to show you the wedding bands to match. For more information, check out the NotWedding site.

          Like this ring? Want something like it? Head over to the Custom Rings page!

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          360 Degrees of Awesome

          Often we only show you one view of a ring (so many rings, so little time!) but we thought we’d splash into the Photoshop pool to show you the many pretty and different views of the “x” inlay. Such movement!

          Oak Lapis Cross Inlay 4 Way View
          oak lapis

          Want to know more about how our rings are durable and different? Check out our “About Rings” page.

          top: oak ring trio l: lapis lazuli “x” inlay,
          center: mother of pearl,
          right:lapis lazuli
          bottom: a 360-degree view of the “x” inlay

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          Prong Setting Super Post

          Prong Setting Super Post

          In 1872 Ferdinand J. Herpers patented the prong setting for the Tiffany Company, who had introduced it as the “Tiffany Setting” in 1886.

          It is an embrace of a setting, the prongs used in a similar way to how we use the fingers of our hands.

          At SWR, we’re always amazed at how different one prong-set ring looks from another. Recently, we’ve moved away from a simple pin-mounted setting. We like to use a prong setting laser-welded to a metal ring inlay. as you’ll see below. We find they’re stronger that way, and quite striking.

          garnet set
          rosewood, garnet, patina’d gold<raw diamond
          walnut, client-provided raw diamond

          topaz setting

          Moissianite Engagement ring
          dark bogwood, moissanite, mother of pearl inlay

          Engagement Set Inlay
          rosewood, topaz, opal inlay

          Contrasting Set Rings
          rosewood and steel, moissanite

          Interested in your own prong set wood ring? Get started by filling out our Custom Ring form!

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          A Sweet Hero of a Ring

          A Sweet Hero of a Ring

          There’s something about this ring that reminds us of the magical, the mythical, the fairy tale, the legendary. It’s a ring that unlocks, that graces a hero, that signifies unseen strength and depth.

          It reminds us of the feeling you get in your chest, the embrace and tension, right before doing good: committing acts of kindness, making other peoples’ lives better in some small or large way. It’s the enjoyment of humanity and the collective.

          Yowza!

          Yes, we admit it. We are total and utter Romantic ring nerds. And we’re proud.

          Want to be a ring nerd? Discover your magic in the shop

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          Bob & Monica: Ring Update!

          Hey, do you all remember the lovely Monica and Bob, the artist-musician couple we wrote about on the blog a couple months back?

          We finished their rings! And they’re gorgeous.

          Bob & Monica: Rings

          Bob’s ring (bottom) is made of purpleheart, lined wenge. Monica’s (standing) is the reverse. As you can see, both the purpleheart and the wenge have a crazy amount of tonal depth. The variance of wood never ceases to amaze us. We guess that’s why we dedicate a lot of our lives to it.

          Want to make us a ring of a special wood or material in your life?

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          Shop Visit Photoblog: Matt & Tatiana

          Matt and Tatiana thought they’d get the rings all wrapped up and head out but when they tried them on, they didn’t want to take them off! We asked them to pose for a few candids, then sent them off in the direction of a favorite neighborhood restaurant. When clients are around, the joy just does not stop!

          Shop Visit Photoblog: Matt & Tatiana

          rings Matt & Tatiana
          Their rings are rosewood and mother of pearl. Like the looks of them? Check out the shop.

          This is what happened when we asked them to kiss for the camera:
          Matt & Tatiana

          Matt & Tatiana rings

          Matt & Tatiana rings

          Ready to make your own wood wedding rings? Head to the Custom Order page!

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          The Sea in a Ring: So Beautiful It’s Embarassing

          The Sea in a Ring
          Bogwood, Turquoise, Malachite, Mother of Pearl

          This ring puts us in the mind of the summer sea at night, maybe some moonlight passed along the water, and the song “Sea of Love,” by Phil Phillips. Particularly the cover by Cat Power. 

          Come with me, my love
          To the sea, the sea of love
          I want to tell you how much I love you

          The ocean can feel endless, a circle is endless, life is finite but can be so lovely.

          We’re getting a little too philosophical, maybe. It can be a problem around here. We’re aware. We’re working on it. But! Those aren’t tears. That’s just the shore wind kicking up sand. 

          Okay, we’re fine now. Promise. Just go watch this ridiculous video (for a very different sea/love song) while we put ourselves together.

          Then head to the Ring Shop for your own embarrassingly beautiful adornment. 

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          Guitar + Xylophone = Ring

          At a show a few years ago, a gentleman approached Gustav: he had worked for a now-defunct Chicago xylophone factory for years, and had collected out-of-tune rosewood keys throughout his career. He’d never found a real use for them. Now he was clearing out his house and wanted to know, did Gustav want them? Of course the answer was a resounding (ha!) YES. 

          We’re so proud of this beautiful custom ring, made with that rosewood and a client-supplied guitar string. Check out how well the metallic spring of the string combines with the super-rich and multi-tonal wood. What could be more visually musical?

          Guitar Xylophone  Ring

          Want to own your own guitar string ring? Head over to our Custom Orders page to start the show!

          Want to reuse the rest of the guitar, too?

          Check out this ingenious/melodic home from Fairy Meadows Miniatures!

          Fairy Meadow Guitar Minatures

          Perhaps something a bit more pragmatic and everyday?

          Everyone needs more shelving! (via Apartment Therapy/Recyclart)

          Guitar Shelf Recycle art

          Reusing is all about innovation, and we love that!

          For a peek at our in-stock rosewood rings, check out the shop! 

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          Meet Us at the Not Wedding!

          Meet Us at the Not Wedding!
          Event: THE NOT WEDDING
          Details: August 14, 2014 – 6:30 PM @ City View Lofts
          Special discount: check the end of the post to learn more.

          We love all of our clients, so much. We love talking to them and collaborating with them and taking pictures of their bright, beautiful faces when they stop by the shop. Most of all: we love that we get to share in the making of a meaningful object.

          Often, those meaningful objects are engagement, wedding, and commitment rings.  And we’re so excited to contribute to so many special days!

          Because of this, we often find ourselves at wedding-centric events. We don’t often go to large conventional expos–most people there are on the search for more traditional rings–and so it’s special, niche events where we turn up. They’re chock-full of sweet people and pretty things, cleverness and magic and light. We were used to the idea of setting up the rings, talking to folks, being a part of the fair melee. We figured we knew the routine. Until now.

          From our friends at Green Wedding Alliance (with whom we do the fantastic, annual “Committed” show), we heard about THE NOT WEDDING.

          It’s not a wedding, but it’s not not a wedding. 

          And we’re pleased as punch to be providing the engagement rings and wedding bands for the not-couple, who are local Chicago married folks who will be renewing their vows at the event.

          We’ll also be in the Tunnel of Love (vendor fair) to talk to guests about our rings and their dreams!

          fetured vendor badge

          So join us for a dynamite dinner, super-fun dance floor, and awesome, hand-picked vendor-rama to get some great ideas for your own special day.

          Interested in coming? Want a discounted ticket? We’d love to share our golden tickets. Email Amanda at amanda @ gustavreyes DOT com to let us know!

          the Not Wedding!

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          Spotlight: Client-and-Ring Specialist Allison is a Not-So-Secret Artiste!

          Happy Monday!

          When you receive your Simply Wood Ring, you’ll receive a thank you note from us: we believe it’s important to display our gratitude on a daily basis, many times over. We’re are lucky — SO LUCKY — to be working with wonderful people and beautiful materials day in and day out.

          Allison — who gets to talk to clients and collaborate on rings every day — sometimes adds her own little flair to the notes…and what a flair it is!

          Allison wishes a client happy birthday:
          Allison wishes a client happy birthday card

          Allison lets another member of the team know she says “hello!”:
          
Allison lets another member of the team know she says hello

          Allison draws a pensive portrait of Gustav, accompanied by a similarly pensive quote:
          gustav portrate by allison

          Allison keeps this moustachioed gentleman-ring* nearby for jazzy midday inspiration: 
          Moustache Ring By Allison

          Allison draws from memory an older man whom she saw at GreenFest Chicago 2013: 

          Old Man By Allison
          Simply Wood Rings is a wonderful place to be, and Allison’s cartoons are totally awesome reminder! 

          Wishing you teammates as great and supportive as ours…

          *We would totally wear this ring!

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          Suzie & Niche & Their Rings

          Our client Suzie sent us the SWEETEST email, one in a series of VERY SWEET emails:

          “I just don’t think we would have ever felt like this about any other rings. It’s like they’re alive and a piece of us, a piece of one another. This morning I received a text from Niche stating how sad he was because he forgot to put his ring back on when he got out of the shower before work. And then a little later on he sent me one stating that it’s bad enough being without me all day, but since he’s been wearing his ring it’s like he can look down and there I am with him all the time and it makes his day better, but today he hasn’t even had that. It’s just crazy how something so simple like a wooden ring can carry so much weight.

          I don’t usually like to place much value in material things, but these really are different. They really are a part of something. A part of us, and you, and the craftsperson, and Chicago, and the tree, and the stones, and the Earth. They really are FULL circles.

          It’s just really nice and comforting to feel the ‘warmth of wood’  (pretty sure I stole that from y’all somewhere along the way) and know that there are people out there who have respect for and honor their work and nature.”

          natural diamond ring

          Sales-wonder Allison collaborated with Suzie to design this beautiful natural diamond, patina’d silver and rich walnut ring. Niche’s is a simple and beautiful walnut band, to match.

          All of these beautiful photos below are by Martina Rachau!

          Suzie & Niche & Their Rings
          Suzie & Niche & Their Rings
          Suzie & Niche & Their Rings

          We congratulate Suzie and Niche on their matrimony, and on being awesome people!

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          An Australian Wedding with Our Rosewood Rings, courtesy Photog James Day

          “I Photograph People In Love”

          Day messaged us to show us the beautiful images he’d taken of Kris and Brooke, two of our clients who recently wedded with a pair of our rosewood rings.

          Rosewood Rings, courtesy Photog James Day
          credit: James Day

          You can see more of Kris and Brooke’s wedding, and James Day’s outrageously excellent work, here.

          We love seeing where our rings end up! If you have one of our rings, we’d love to see a professional ceremony shot, amateur snap, or recent selfie. Show us your be’ringed adventures! Show us the work in beautiful motion! Email amanda (at) gustavreytes (dot) com with your shots and we’ll post them here! 

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          Client Visit Photoblog: A Lovely Couple Named Michael and Sarah, and Their Beautiful Fossil Rings

          When Michael and Sarah came into the shop, you could feel the sweet energy coming off them. Their love was almost a physical presence. It was a hot, sticky day here in Pilsen, but knowing that we’d get to show Michael and Sarah their awesome fossil rings kept us alert. (What would we do after? Gulp some coffee and continue to serve, if a bit sluggishly…)

          Michael and Sarah, and Their Beautiful Fossil Rings
          Sarah and Michael’s rings, set with fossils they found together, and made with foraged Koa they brought from Hawaii.

          Michael and Sarah, and Their Beautiful Fossil Rings
          The couple admires Sarah’s ring!

          Sarah Beautiful Fossil Ring
          Sarah takes a closer look.

          wood earring< Sarah's earrings are wood too! And beautiful.Michael Beautiful Fossil Ring
          The lovely couple…and baby-in-belly makes three!

          Michael and Sarah, we wish you a happy and sweet life. Thanks for bringing your joy into the studio!

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          Balance & Growth: Ebony/Birdseye Maple Wedding Set

          Balance & Growth: Ebony/Birdseye Maple Wedding Set

          These rings came out of the shop today and made us moon-eyed.

          Partnerships are all about balance, or a constant engagement to work toward balance.

          These rings — ebony and birdseye maple — present and enactment of those sweet efforts. The throughline, what binds them, is a shimmering inlay of ruby, yellow topaz, and mother of pearl. 

          In the pictured rough-hewn box, the rings will have a beautiful place to rest together, while their owners going swimming or rock climbing or whatever heavy activities they like to do.

          A scrap of a poem, from Alice Notley’s “Clinical Thermometer with Moonstone,” via The Poetry Foundation: “I love you as a fan loves air. oops it’s vice-versa I told you about that character She is a bezel awaiting the plop of a ruby she must grow chronically”

          We wish for the wearers of these rings to grow chronically, together, in balance, and to have a beautiful life together!

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          Bagpipe: A Love Story (African Blackwood & Stainless Steel Wedding Band)

          African Blackwood with Stainless Steel

          This ring is made of the wood of a bagpipe key, brought in by a couple with a particularly sweet story. Both police officers, yet strangers to each other, they found themselves at a ceremony for fallen members of the force in Washington, D.C. For it, he performed on a bagpipe, and she watched. When afterwards they struck up a conversation, they discovered that they both lived and worked in Chicago: one from the Northside (Go Cubs!) and Southside (Go Sox!); but they had never met in their own city. 

          Returning to Chicago, they fell in love, and by and by they came to us for his wedding band. Gustav, always looking to make custom rings as meaningful as possible, asked whether they could get a broken bagpipe pipe. They found one at the local music shop: a vintage one made of African Blackwood and ivory. 

          Custom ring made of vintage bagpipe key

          Cesar, captain of the shop and all that is good in the world, sliced a bit off, and sanded it until it was ready to be wrapped. The result is slick and classy and rich. We can’t wait to show it off to the happy couple. 

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          Urbs in Horto: City of Chicago Flag Ring

          “Urbs In Hoto” is the Chicago city motto. It means “City in a Garden,” and anyone who’s spent any time in our hometown knows why. The land is full of parks and trees and nature in every available corner.

          This afternoon, at the direction of a client, we took the motto literally, and made the city flag out of fauna. It’s freshly made by our expert artisans (with a special shout-out to Joe, for the #flawless inlay), out of oak with red and blue fluorite. 

          City of Chicago Flag Ring by Simply Wood Rings: oak with red and blue fluorite.

          City of Chicago Flag Ring by Simply Wood Rings: oak with red and blue fluorite.

          We’re all crushing on it, and Gustav already has a plan to make a version of it with lighter, locally foraged maple. 

          In case you (like some of us transplants) didn’t know, the four stars of the Chicago flag represent Fort Dearborn (first built on the banks of the river in what’s now the Loop); the Great Chicago Fire (certainly a transformative moment); and the World’s Columbian Express, and the Century of Progress Exposition rounding up the count. 

          Interested in your own Chicago or [TO WHATEVER YOU PLEDGE ALLEGIANCE] ring? Sidle on up to our pretty new site, and contact us with ideas, dreams, challenges, and questions!

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          So Fresh, So Clean: The New Site Is Up!

          Dear Friends,

          It’s almost our 10th anniversary. Technically, traditionally, that’s tin, but we prefer to think of it as “double-wood”! As a gift to ourselves, and a gift to you, we’ve put together a sweet new site that tells your stories and displays everything that makes us special as a company. (Hint: a large part of that is you all.)

          First, here’s what the site looked like in 2006. A bit nineties, to our eye, for sure. It’s nice, though, to see we had that simple elegance from the start. [Insert winking emoticon here!]

          The New Site Is Up!

          And, [drum roll as loud as thunder],  here’s our brand new look!

          The New Site Is Up!

          On the site, (which can still be found at simplywoodrings.com), you’ll be able to get to the meat of the matter (wood rings! how wonderful they are! how to take care of them! the team!) while enjoying beautiful pictures of our wares, all under the sheltering sky (banner) the color of seawater in a cave.

          We hope you’ll take time to explore the new site. Contact us with comments and suggestions. In the coming week, we’ll be expanding the gallery selection to show off even more beauty that’s coming out of the shop.

          Share, share alike, shout from mountaintops, re-post, blog and skywrite just as much as your heart desires.

          Stay tuned for exciting evolutions and fun adventures!

          Yours,
          The SWR Team

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          Summer Days Full of Light

          “This is the world’s reenactment of today, and of this moment, and of continuing on-with its satellite imaging of scattering birds obscuring our faces—and this is the world’s reenactment of its percentages: of the constant shifting of the satellites and the constant scattering of the birds and the likelihood that we will be seen; and this is the reenactment of someone choosing your face” from “Equation for Cresting” by Christopher Bolin, via Verse Daily

          These summer weeks our studio fills with light and noise.

          These summer weeks out studio fills with light and joy.

          Even the peregrine falcons have been hooting and squeaking and swooping, like, they know. (Or perhaps, with Field Museum visitors, and three little newly-hatched babes, they’ve got their own sweet hubbub!)

          So many wonderful people are getting married at the end of June! And we’re making wood rings for everyone, or, it certainly seems that way.

          Lisa and Denise came in to pick up their rings earlier this week, for a private commitment ceremony. They were freshly back from Kenya, and “accidentally” wearing coordinated shirts featuring elephants from their travels. 

          It was so wonderful to spend time with these two as they tried on their rings–rosewood, moissanite, and mother of pearl–and made sure just they were just right. 

          Allison consults with Lisa and Denise about the right fit.

          Lisa and Denise try the rings on for size for the first time!

          Happy clients at Simply Wood Rings.

          Denise takes a closer look.

          The happy couple!

          The happy couple!

          We couldn’t be happier for Lisa and Denise, and wish them a lifetime together of joy and adventure.

          If you need us, we’ll be sanding and wrapping, packing and shipping, sighing and stretching, and ready for more!

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          Dreamin’ On: Monica & Bob Visit the Studio


          Our new friends Bob and Monica

          The other day, we had the most wonderful couple come in from Wisconsin. Monica’s a biologist-turned-found object artist, and Bob’s a musician. They drove to Chicago to bring us some wood, set up a custom order, and pick up her daughter from the airport. The weather was sweet and warm, and they planned to spend some time on the lake, but first, the business at hand.

          Bob said they had been “dreamin’ on” our rings for a few years, and now it was finally time. From Monica’s family’s farm in Michigan, they had brought a piece of purpleheart, and hope to also use a lighter piece of wood accidentally left at home, and on its way to us now. They settled on the darker wood band for him, and the lighter wood band for her, with inverse linings. “A yin and yang sort of thing!” Allison said, and they nodded happily.

          Dreamin' On: Monica & Bob Visit the Studio
          Wood from Monica’s family farm

          We are lucky, on an almost-daily basis, to witness such love and resolution and balance and partnership. It makes our chests thrum with buzzy delight! It’s all the more special that we get to hear stories of lives all over the world, of the people we work with and the wood which we are honored to set our hands upon.

          After the ring decisions were made, Gustav showed Monica and Bob around the studio.

          It emerged that Monica runs an arts center called Nisse House of Art, which hosts a gallery, shop, studios, and workshops for low-income rural women and girls, teaching arts, craftwork and life skills. So cool! Let us reiterate: we meet the best people.

          After a long and winding talk about Gustav’s possibly-favorite tree, (the Ailanthus), about Chicago, and Monica’s childhood as a “country girl” living in Detroit and New York, and the shifting/growing/changing of our cities, Monica and Bob had to say goodbye.

          We waved after them, feeling lighter and more joyous for having met them.

          gus bob and monica< Gustav, Monica and Bob talk wood.After they left, Gustav reminisced more about the Ailanthus tree, which is famous in literary circles for playing the part of the "tree" of Betty Smith's classic 1943 novel A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, and famous in the inner-city, where it’s called “tree of heaven” and “ghetto palm,” and can grow through chainlink and concrete. “To take this tree that had such history in Asia, and bring it here as a decorative tree in front of Craftsman houses, and then it gets forgotten, but now it’s invasive, it still grows in vacant lots, through foundations, anywhere…” Gustav trailed off, and made a big sigh of awe.

          From the novel:

          “The one tree in Francie’s yard was neither a pine nor a hemlock. It had pointed leaves which grew along green switches which radiated from the bough and made a tree which looked like a lot of opened green umbrellas. Some people called it the Tree of Heaven. No matter where its seed fell, it made a tree which struggled to reach the sky. It grew in boarded-up lots and out of neglected rubbish heaps and it was the only tree that grew out of cement. It grew lushly, but only in the tenements districts.”

          Ailanthus Tree
          via Chicago Botanic Gardens

          We’ve been thinking a lot about feelings of belonging lately: immigration, community, gentrification. Human beings are more mobile than ever. We’re less likely to live in the place where we’re born. We are children and children’s children of people who crossed borders and traversed oceans. We stand in the shade of trees which will be growing long after we are gone. We plant trees that will bear seeds that spread for miles.

          At Simply Wood Rings, our work carries all of this with it. When a human wears a wooden ring, the two entities are suddenly on the same timeline. We are allowed to travel together, to move throughout the world: things rooted and mobile at once.

          We wish Monica and Bob happiness and adventure, peace and joy. And we can’t wait to show them (and you) their rings!

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          On Glitter, & Value

          No one ever wants glitter.

          We wish someone would!

          Or perhaps ground pyrite (fool’s gold), shimmering under the finish as it would in the fast currents of the creek.

          Pyrite elbe

          Fool’s gold itself (image by Didier Descouens, via Wikipedia

          At the studio, one of us remembers discovering a chunk of pyrite during a creek walk at Pilgrim Hills. She was five at the time, and only beginning to understand the idea of currency. Fishing it up from the sandy bottom, she hollered: “We’re rich!” Like Scrooge McDuck or Donald Trump. Her mother giggled a bit, had to explain as they walked home that though the rock was beautiful, it wasn’t gold. Their bank balance would remain the same. They would have to skip a lazy backstroke through a room-sized vault of doubloons. They watched a whitetail deer mince along the treeline. “But it’s still really beautiful,” her mother said. “You should keep it on your windowsill where it’ll reflect the light.”

          At Simply Wood Rings, we work with this kind of beauty: the natural, the authentic. Sure: money helps us all live in our contemporary lives, but natural beauty feeds a different part. This is why we love doing what we do. We’re not only spellbound but inspired by our materials, their past lives, their journeys. They reflect our own evolutions as people on a planet full of uncountable types and forms of beauties.

          Seashore's Muse: Rosewood and Mother of Pearl

          Seashore’s Muse: Rosewood and Mother of Pearl

          Consider: that we want our rings to call attention to this kind of natural wealth.
          Consider: that for us, they do.

          Be it glitter or pyrite or fossil or ancient woods.
          Wishing you some beauty today, wherever you may find it.

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          When Style Aids Authenticity

          Style and adornment are a way to embolden and announce your interiority to the outside world. So, let’s all be authentic. Let’s all greet the world with kindness. Embrace who you are and who you strive to be.

          Most of the people we work with come to us at a time of engagement, marriage or anniversary: they’re affirming and reaffirming their commitment to each other, the value of good Earth citizenship, and the lifecycle of matter.

          But there isn’t any reason to save that celebration for just a romantic occasion

          • Consider, adorning your hand with a reminder of the things you believe.
          • Consider, giving your best friend a birthday present that means something special.
          • Consider, passing on a talisman of earth to a family member, a tree to the family tree.

          We believe that we make objects that mean something, out of materials that are sustainable. By wearing one of our rings, you can make your own meaning. Why wait to have or give that?
          Here are two new rings that we love, that work perfectly no matter the purpose.

          When Style Aids Authenticity

          Dyed birdseye maple with a rosewood interior.

          In real life, this beauty shimmers like we imagine a mermaid might. Or, it is the silver of a spring, or the sweet ethereal mist of twilight. Wearing a ring like this inserts some magic dreaminess into the everyday.

           

          When Style Aids Authenticity
          Rrosewood, using the natural color abnormality of the lumber

          This one by design uses contrast and as a result feels uber-contemporary. Like dominoes or like black-and-white cookies, the colors work together strikingly. In it is confidence, a 3″-high newspaper headline, strength and force and elegance all at once.

          Let our work be one small step toward matching your insides to your outsides. May you find pleasure therein.

          Happy Wednesday!

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          Bioswale? More Like BioSWELL.

          Every morning, on our way into the studio, we walk by a beautiful streetside tumble of native plants. Some are bristly, others green, with blossoms punctuating the landscape.

          Along Cermak, on each block, there is a post, with an informative sign, and a small vertical wind mill, and a solar panel.

          Our neighborhood is fairly industrial, so the green, as it grows throughout this hot and wet season, makes us smile. 

          But where did it come from?
          In 2012, Chicago’s Sustainability Office set out to make Cermak — a main east-west artery that hosts everything from family restaurants and schools, to artists studios, and factories, even a food truck parking lot — the “Greenest Street in Chicago.” Awesome eco-sustainable-nature/people-loving things they did to make this happen include:

          • recycled and reused construction materials
          • energy-saving reflective paving
          • concrete that includes titanium dioxide to break down pollutants on the surface and up to 8 feet in the air (smog eaters!) 
          • environment-responsive lights, powered by solar and wind collection
          • diversion of 80% of rainwater to sustainable landscaping (bioswales*)
          • use of native and/or drought-resistant plants 
          • ADA-welcoming streetscapes
          • more bike racks
          • educational signage (like the one in the video above!)

          *Bioswales involve grading the land and choosing sustainable plants in order to direct, filter, and make better use of rainwater.

          cermak road

          Up-close of a bioswale, via Dwell

          One day while waiting for the bus, we watched a man pick up litter and throw it away. We followed suit. It definitely takes a community to support a sustainability plan; infrastructure can only go so far. Doing good together feels great. 

          We love that our environment matches up with our own SWR mission to make life better for people and the planet at the same time!

          FOR MORE INFO: You can access a pdf of the original plan here, and a great Dwell interview with “Complete Streets” program director Janet Attarian here.

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          A Thank You That Grows

          The other day, a sweet customer named Oliver sent our sales superstar Allison a grow-a-garden thank you note!

          A Thank You That Grows

          This is what it looked like last week. Then, over the weekend, the little sprouts got sad without their daily water. Gustav said that without decay we cannot have growth, but Allison added a little water and nudged them toward the sun’s rays with hope in her heart.

          Now the sprouts seem to be bouncing back! The garden is a “matchgarden” by Another Studio, which has loads of beautifully designed and affordable gifts.

          It makes us think of one of our favorite environmentally-minded landscape techniques: front lawns with sustainable, native plants, or vegetable gardens instead of grass. Our own building’s front yard has some super-cool bioswales, but that’s a horse of a different color, or a blog of a different color, or for a different day, or…

          It truly is the season of new growth!

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          The World in a Ring

          O’ what a happy Monday! A day to bring ourselves upright once more, to charge into the new week. (Or revive with a cup of coffee and some deep breathing, and then stride gently up to the day’s to-do…)

          Today, a newcomer to the studio asked, why is it called “Breaking Traditions“? Why, because it turns everything we’ve been raised to think about an engagement ring on its head!

          It isn’t about rebellion so much as re-imagination: our Breaking Traditions rings use reclaimed, recycled, or ecologically-sourced wood and eons-old minerals, designed to respect our world while celebrating the wearer’s own, fresh view. 

          The World in a Ring

          This “Breaking Traditions” mahogany ring is inlaid with mother of pearl, lapis, malachite, and red coral. 

          Mother of pearl is pretty and tough, the iridescent shield that protects the inner pearl. 

          Lapis lazuli is the source of a painter’s ultramarine, the platonic ideal of blue for artists (and us). 

          Malachite is a terrestrial green, a green of protection and healing and growth. 

          Red coral comes from the caverns of the ocean, a pulsing vermilion in the deep. 

          And in the design, with care and craft, all of it comes together: an emblem for a promise, an honorific of a connection, a signification of who you are and who you mean to be. 

          Let us help you celebrate your sweet difference! Wishing you a happy, healthy, productive week!