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.
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!
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!
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!
(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?
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.
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“.
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.
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 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 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.
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 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.
A short time before I gave birth to our first daughter, I found out my Mother had cancer. In June of 2014 I learned that she had been diagnosed with stage 2 cervical cancer. She spent the next eight months going through intense radiation and chemotherapy treatments, while taking a slew of medications. Of course that means she wasn’t able to travel to actually be there for the birth of her first granddaughter, but we took a trip out to Florida as soon as the baby was able to travel.
My Mom fought her cancer with every ounce of strength she had, and while she went into remission from the cancer a multitude of other health problems took over. She developed lymphedema, along with kidney failure. My mom was in constant pain but through it all she always smiled when we were around. She never let anyone see how bad she truly felt and was still trying to take care of everyone around her.
In the middle of her battle with these illnesses and her remission she got to see me walk down the aisle, and she was able to meet and spend some time with her two granddaughters.
Ever since that first time I was told she had cancer it was like a stopwatch had started in the back of all of our minds. How much time did we actually have left with her? The doctors first told us she wouldn’t make it past six months. My mom was the strongest woman I’ve ever known and she beat the all the odds and lived almost a full two years after her diagnosis. She passed away in August of 2016 with friends and family by her side.
A moms love
My mom wasn’t just strong in her fight with cancer. My whole life she showed me how a person can be strong in so many different ways. She showed me how fierce and bright and wonderful a mother’s love truly is, no matter how far apart you are. She drilled in me that girls can whatever we put our mind too and we could be just as tough, if not tougher, than the boys.
My mom was my biggest fan, my shoulder to cry on, and a swift kick in the rear when I needed it. I’m so thankful for the relationship I had and how it’s help mold the one I’m building with my daughters now. I’m thankful for the time she got to spend with them and the incredible amount of love she had/showed them in that short period. A part of me hopes that their coming into this world is what helped her hold on a little bit longer, and its something I will cherish for the rest of my life.
Sitting in a tree ring holds meaning
One more thing I can now cherish and have to remind me of that is my own beautiful, one-of-a-kind Simply Wood Rings ring. Thanks to my wonderful best friend, Shelby and the rest of the amazing Simply Wood Rings team for helping commemorate it for me.
The ring that Shelby chose to use as the inspiration for my ring is the ‘Sitting in a Tree’ ring. The Simply Wood Rings ‘Sitting in a Tree’ ring brings the whole family together by using a base wood of an anniversary month and inlays of birth-woods or birth-stones to represent those closest to you.
My own ‘Sitting in a Tree’ ring features a beautiful base wood of Elm. Elm is the anniversary wood for the month of May. Our wedding date was 5-10-15 🙂 It was actually the first time I met most of Korey’s family and it was right before then my mom announced her remission for a brief period of time. That day was the best day ever. Elm has a light to medium reddish brown color and a somewhat coarse, uneven texture. The wood sands easily though for a gorgeous, natural low luster.
For the birthstone inlays, the outer two rings represent my two daughters, so Ruby and Turquoise were used. The middle inlay, representing my mother, is made from Amethyst. I never even thought about it until I put the ring on, but my girls’ birthstone colors mixed together make my Mom’s birthstone color. And purple just happens to by my favorite color too, ha-ha! It’s also kind of like my girls are hugging my mom and that is something really special to me. Not only do the colors of the birthstones mean something to me, but what they each symbolize add another layer for me to cherish in this already incredible memento.
Ruby is the gemstone used for the birth month of July – when my oldest was born. It is said to represent nobility and beauty, and is considered one of the four most precious gems. Turquoise, the gemstone picked for the birth month of December – my youngest was born on New Year’s Eve. It is one of the oldest stones, used in many ancient cultures. It is believed to bring good fortune and symbolizes friendship and prosperity.
For those born in February, like my mom was, they are said to be blessed with Amethyst as their birthstone. This popular gemstone is prized for symbolizing peace, courage, and love. And I don’t think there’s anything more befitting for my mom. She was the definition of courage. She spent nearly three years fighting a despicable disease and other illnesses. In that time she found peace within herself, she loved and lived as hard as she could. The love between her and my daughters fills my heart. Every time I look at this beautiful piece of jewelry that was made with so much thought and care, my heart overflows with all the emotions I feel.
Simply Wood Rings took these wonderfully simple materials and created something so precious to me that I will cherish for the rest of my life. They will do that for you, too. Every ring made by Simply Wood Rings is handled with the same care and attention that my ring received. You can trust them to make something that will have you and your loved one’s heart skip a beat every time they put it on.
This year let SimplyWood Rings make that special someone a one-of-a-kind ring that says “I love you!” in more than one way.
Simply Wood Rings offers a variety of beautiful reclaimed woods that can be used as the base of your ring. Rosewood, is a popular wood because of its strength, hardness, stability, and beauty. It is predominantly reddish-brown color and has a sweet smell. It is said to have compassionate and nourishing qualities. Cherry wood is a great base because of its rich natural luster and medium weight. It has been called the “tree of heart” and symbolizes compassion. Apple wood is another great base to use. It has an appearance and texture similar to Cherry, yet is heavier and harder. Apple is said to symbolize adoration and longevity in love. Another popular wood to use as the base for this special gift is Maple. Maple wood has a natural light color with a fine, uniform texture. Maple is also a very strong wood and has a high resistance to abrasion and wear. The Maple symbolizes the tree of offering, also balance and strength.
These four woods are just the start to what Simply Wood Rings can use to create your ring. Every material we use offers it’s own unique meaning and properties thus giving you a limitless amount of combinations to create a beautiful, one-of-a-kind ring that has it’s own special meaning for that special someone. Just check out our gallery to look at some of the pieces Simply Wood Rings has created over the years. Contact us today and we can start creating something beautiful for you!
You want to propose because she make you feel like the world now has meaning and you know she’s the perfect one to go on this journey we call life. You need an engagement ring, you say, but she is not a jewelry person. She would rather walk in the forest than go to the mall to pick out a ring. I have an idea. The next time you’re on a trail walk, when you get there pick up a small rock and put in your pocket. As you continue your walk pick up a stick or a small branch. Be prepared for she’s asks “what are you doing?” Don’t be discouraged, she will be asking you that for the rest of your life. You will continue your journey through the forest and you will find a leaf or flower towards the end of your walk take that with you also. You will make a mental note of how special she is and how indescribably loved she makes you feel. When you have your materials in hand the Simply Wood Rings Team will be here ready and honored to help you engage her naturally with a wood engagement ring that is as special as she is. We can take your materials you have collect and create a wood engagement ring that is connected, meaningful and grounded in the things you both hold dear. You can read some stories of other customers on our wood ring Stories Page for inspiration.
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 magic happens. 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 you are here. We have a comprehensive list of places to shop, drink, eat, hang out, or see art.
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!