Posted on

Simply Wood Rings: What We Do

The Ever-Present Moment

Have you ever had a trusty keepsake to remind you of a fleeting moment from the distant past? Something that had the power to return you instantly to the present moment you are in right here, right now?

Perhaps it is a lucky coin or a pressed flower, or a river-smoothed rock you keep in your pocket. Maybe it’s something that has stayed with you for a very long time, marked and changed right along with the flow of life’s events. Perhaps this object brings you back to yourself, as you take note of the tiny changes it has endured over a certain span of time.

Simply Wood Rings is a leader in artisan crafted wooden rings, proudly made in Chicago, Illinois. We create custom artisan-made, deeply meaningful, and uniquely personalized rings for both special and everyday occasions. Our treasured wooden jewelry offers not only symbolic beauty and style but also makes a direct positive contribution to our world and its inhabitants.

Many of our materials are sourced from personally significant items provided by our customers themselves, as well as salvaged and repurposed objects. This allows us to practice sustainability and tell your unique story at the same time.

Ethical Materials Are More Than the Sum of Their Parts

We invite our customers to contribute an object that is sentimental to them, coupled with the wood of their choice. Personal items incorporated into our jewelry may include part of a family heirloom, a meaningful rock, or petals from a person’s wedding bouquet. There was once a couple that walked into our store with a chili pepper and we turned a simple vegetable into a stunning piece of jewelry. This physical representation of an aspect of the personal experience is then inlaid into a new piece of wearable, sustainable, one-of-a-kind handmade wooden art, manifesting as a gorgeous wooden ring.

Our handcrafted custom rings are a way for you to keep a part of your special wedding day close to you at all times. These rings offer our customers a way to make that one memorial day never die, where a woman can basically be a bride forever.

The central components of our craft are the unique and mindfully chosen objects themselves, which carry an expressiveness and symbology directly personal to the person wearing the handmade design. The personal nature of each piece allows it to share its own narrative, and it’s likely that your beautiful eco-friendly wooden ring will invite the opportunity for questions from curious friends, nosy coworkers, and acquaintances. However, it’s up to you how much of your tale you choose to tell.

Telling an Individual Story

We would feel honored to collaborate with you on your unique Simply Wood ring, whether it is celebrating a union between people, a birthday, a milestone, or another special occasion. We work closely with you to understand your particular sensibilities and aesthetic. Essentially, we aim to foster a sense of reverence and honor for the ephemeral nature of these particular objects and woods. On a fundamental level, these types of materials remind us of the present moment and the idea of impermanence. We like to make sure that our philosophy is in friendly contrast with traditional jewelers, whose works specifically indicate the past and the future, denying the only moment we actually ever have, which is right now.

The Importance of Sustainability

Along with our customers, we place great value on our ongoing commitment to sustainable practices in our woodcraft. When in search of a ring to celebrate and represent something special, many people are led to believe that metal is the only choice. This, of course, is not the case. Some people are actually allergic to metal, and sourcing it is extremely hard on our environment. Working responsibly with wood and other environmentally friendly materials gives us a wonderful opportunity to practice our philosophy.

At Simply Wood Rings, we love the process of helping tell a story with each exclusive piece. We are serious about our role in honoring life’s most cherished moments. This professional attitude, coupled with our clients’ passion and the special nature of the objects, creates a finished product that is nothing short of magical. Your Simply Wood Ring will move with you through life in a beautifully ephemeral way, as life moves through you.

For more about Simply Wood Rings and our ring design process, please contact us today!

Posted on

A Simple Start- The Beginning of Simply Wood Rings

In 2005, my wife helped me realize that all questions have an answer. 

She asked, “Can you make a wood wedding ring?”
My answer was “Yes.. but…”

In woodworking, you, as the woodworker, will be the only one that knows where your mistakes lie, in any given creation. The mentality that there is only one way of doing something is what kept me from seeing the wonderfully simple beauty in the question “Can you make a wood ring?”.

First, there is the question of durability that needs an answer. As a woodworker, you have a learned that “the world is flat” quite literally, thanks to the industrial revolution. You cut, drill, plane, sand or otherwise abuse this very natural material that we call wood. It is all done in the name of speed and efficiency all the while killing the spirit and soul of the woodworker in the process. 

So when my wife asked me, can I make a wood wedding ring, I quickly dismissed the notion. I wasn’t listening to my wife; she didn’t ask if it would be strong, or if people would like it. She wasn’t asking if people would fall in love with these little wooden rings that manifest human emotion, or if we would post the first wooden ring on Etsy. She didn’t ask if it would end up cutting a groove so deep that hundreds of “would-be woodworkers” would be able to give the world and alternative to the traditional wedding ring. She wasn’t asking to create a wood wedding ring that would connect us with thousands of the best customers the world has to offer.

Provided wood from our customers
Gus & Juanita

She simply asked… “Can you make a wood ring?”

As simple as, I like to say, my wife’s question was, she understood that to answer life’s most straightforward questions was enough, beyond that, we are filling life with things we believe are essential and only work to obscure what is truly wonderful about life.

After all these years, I continue to find peace and purpose in life, telling customer’s stories with these little wood wedding rings. After I had dismissed the idea, my wife asked again, “Can you bend wood?”, I finally knew the answer to the question. She was a fan of Ames bentwood furniture, so I told her that wood would bend within limitations, but not thick enough to be durable to be worn every day. She let me sit a few days then showed me a piece of paper rolled itself, and that’s the moment it clicked. The world was round! 

We have not looked back since that moment, and after our woodworking journey spans more than 20 years and still going, Simply Wood Rings will continue giving the world an eco-friendly alternative to traditional wedding rings. “Can you make a wood ring?” is a simple question that gets me out of bed every morning excited to try and answer. 

Thank you to my wife, Juanita, for that simple question and all the fantastic customers that understand life exists in the wonderfully simple parts!

Posted on

Wood Ring Tales- Sebastien and Val

We love being able to share our customers stories!

We spend so much time talking with our customers to create their ideas, it’s wonderful to see the people behind the emails. We first started talking with our customer Seb in June 2017. He came to us with such a personal idea for a ring, we knew we had to get it right. We happy to share his story!

 

It begins...

 Seb and Val met 8 years ago at a party in New Zealand. Val caught his eye when she organized a running race in the street when the party started to slow down. Seb is from France and was a student in New Zealand and was working as an oceanographer (how cool!?). Val is from America and was on vacation volunteering at organic farms (again, how cool?!).  They dated for a few months before Val had to go back home to take care of her mom who was ill. Unfortunately, Val’s mother passed away. After, Val moved back to New Zealand to live with Seb and planted a rosebush in her mother’s memory. While together, they built a life surrounded by international friends, a surrogate family, of people who were environmentally conscious. After years of telling Val he didn’t want to get married and didn’t see the point in “boring superficial weddings” he attended a Wedding Festival, thrown by their close friends. Their friends all contributed to different parts of the wedding (i.e. food, music) and after he saw how amazing and stress-free the event was, he had changed his mind and started his search for an engagement ring. Fast forward several months- he found us! 

"I found Simply Wood Rings and they sustainability message resonated with me (we live under the permaculture principles, with no single-use plastics and Val is a sustainability educator). I collected some sand from our local beach, a branch of her mom's rosebush and some plastic nurdles (the elementary form of plastic before it gets molded, found extensively in the oceans and animals) that Val had collected on one of her numerous beach clean-ups."

One of the biggest problems when it comes to custom rings is getting sized. This was just the same issue Seb had, and to make it even worse, Val didn’t wear any rings so he couldn’t easily take one to a local jeweler to have it sized. He thought about using the string test- where you place a piece of string around the finger and later measure it (we don’t recommend this!)- he was too afraid of getting caught so he didn’t attempt the test. Instead, he’d place his hand over hers and would try to compare their finger size. Seb’s custom ring we created was made of Ancient Kauri wood that comes from the bogs of New Zealand and is approximately 50,000 years old. The inlays he sent were black magnetic sand, some of the rose bush Val planted in honor of her mother, and some recycled plastic nurdles.

Life is full of surprises...

After the ring was created, they had found out they were pregnant! A few months later they planned a “Baby Moon” to the Pacific Island of Rarotonga. Seb planned a photoshoot while they were there and was calling it a “Pregnancy Shoot”. However, he planned to propose while they were hanging out with all the palm trees.

Surprise number 2- There’s a tropical storm in the Cook Islands and Seb and Val are forced to stay indoors. Visiting all the museums they could possibly find over the next 4 days, they decide it’s time to head home. The photoshoot is canceled, Seb doesn’t have a plan B. He’s got to figure out a plan B!

Photo from http://www.teresatastes.com/rarotonga

(This is a gorgeous place and I had to find a photo to share with everyone!)

Back home after their babymoon, another stormy afternoon, Seb heads home from work after the power goes out in the whole town. “When I arrived home, Val had the same idea to go for a rainy walk with hot cocoa, our usual rainy day activity (I only go for walks if the weather is horrible and we have cocoa…).” They head over to a platform that overlooks their local beach, which is where they had their first date, many picnics, and their pregnancy celebration *IT’S PLAN B!!*

Seb has the ring in his pocket and tries to find the perfect moment. Val is sitting down (as she’s pregnant) and he waits for the perfect moment to propose. He sees a tropical bird in the distance, asks her “What kind of bird is that?” (he really doesn’t know). Val stands up to look and Seb scrambles to get the ring out of his pocket and gets down on one knee. 

Val didn't say YES at first, it was more " WHAAAAATTTTT???" (this was delivered with an interesting surprised face!) I guess she was surprised after years of agreeing on not getting married! Getting a clear positive answer took a couple of minutes...


The only problem is, the ring is wayyyyy too big (as you can see in this second photo).

So they sent it back to us and we crafted him a new one in the correct size. We got it back to Seb and Val as their due date was rapidly approaching!  On February 13th, 2018 the ring was in the mail on it’s way to New Zealand. On February 22nd, Val goes into labor. They took one last walk on the beach to clear their heads before heading to the birthing center. Seb stopped at his office quick to pick up a few things and sees the newly crafted, correct sized ring on his desk. While they’re on their way to the center, Val is laying on the back seat and Seb once again presents her with her wooden ring. Six hours after- they’re daughter Zoé was born.

We’re so happy we were able to be part of this wonderful story!
If you want to check out Val’s website you can head here: http://valeriebianchi.com/

Do you have a story you want to share about your rings?

We'd love to hear it!
Posted on

Start Making Changes Now! | Earth Day 2018

Looking to make some eco-conscious changes this Earth day?

Well look no further! We came up with some great ideas and helpful tips to help you start with your eco-change.

Eco At Heart ™

Reusable Straws

Drinking straws have become a standard in restaurants and bars. By no you’ve heard how terrible plastic straws can be for the environment. In fact, there are plastic straw bans happening all over. If you can’t let go of the straw, purchase some reusable one! These stainless steel straws from Eco at Heart would be a great choice! They’ve been creating these straws since 2014 and are focused on reducing plastic waste.

Since we’er sure you’re now ready to make the change, head over to the Plastic Pollution Coalition and take the pledge to say “No Straw Please“.

Reusable Bags

Here in Chicago we have a plastic bag tax, which means if you go into any store and didn’t bring your own bags, they will charge you 7 cents per bag. It doesn’t seem like a lot, but who really wants to pay 7 cents every time you go to the store. It seems to be working so far as I am always sure to keep a reusable bag in my car and purse. 

This first company Eco Bags has a great selection of different reusable totes, string bags, produce bags and so many more. Their mission is to “offer thoughtful, ethically and sustainably sourced, durable-reusable bags that inspire people to reduce, reuse, recycle and re-imagine the world we live in.” They’ve been in business since 1989 and by the looks of it, inspired many to switch from plastic bags that just end up in landfills to these great reusable bags!

On the search for reusable totes, I found this company Oxgut. They create furniture, mats, and other great accessories out of used fire hoses! The fire hoses that are reclaimed come from US based firehouse. For me, many of my family members were and are firefighters, so it was exciting to find these cool products.  

Eco Bags
Oxgut
Klean Kanteen

Reusable Water Bottle

Plastic water bottles are out, stainless steel water bottles are in! Klean Kanteen is a family run business that started in 2004, when they wanted a non-toxic alternative to single use water bottles. They have a great selection of different kinds of bottles, food canisters and cups.

Personally, I carry my water bottle everywhere with me, it took a bit to get in the habit but it’s totally worth it.

Other helpful tips

Donate

Donate your gently used items. Clothes, shoes, furniture and kitchen items that are taking up space in your home could be great items for others to use! Also, purchasing used items instead of buying brand new every time.

Grow

Grow your own produce. If you have the space you can grow all kinds of vegetables. Even in a small apartment you can create a herb “garden”. There’s a possibility your neighborhood could have a community garden as well. You’ll feel accomplished when you see your hard work pay off.

Clean

Create your own cleaning products. We tend to use a lot of harsh chemicals to clean, but there are ways to make your own all purpose cleaners that are better for the environment. Mix white vinegar, water, lemon or orange rind for a great smelling cleaner.

Recycle

Recycle your old or broken wood furniture to us! We love when people send us wood to use instead of it ending up in a land fill. If you’re already thinking of a custom ring, we can use your wood and inlay material. 

Posted on

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!

Posted on

The Story of Julie’s 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?