Posted on

Customer Ring Highlight | Alaskan Heritage Gold

Alaskan Heritage: Materials with Grit and Heart

Family Mine in Alaska

The family mine in Alaska

The Story

In early February, we received a commission from a client, Diana, who wanted to design a pair of unique and meaningful rings for herself and her boyfriend. We worked together over the next few weeks to draft the perfect ring for Diana that incorporated Alder wood (abundant in the Pacific Northwest), Purple Agate--her favorite color, a guitar string, and gold flakes that her grandchildren panned from their family gold mine in Alaska. 

We thought the history and meaning of the gold was beautiful and asked Diana if she would provide us with some more information about this special material. Here's what Diana's daughter wrote to us: 

My husband comes from a family of gold miners. They have a family-owned and operated mine in the middle of [an] Alaskan peninsula. It’s out in the middle of nowhere--very remote. They fly small airplanes to get there. The family all goes during the workable months of Alaska, those being May-October. They work hard all summer mining, with up to ten family members operating the mining operations and preparations. Other family members (like my kids) hang around, and learn, and play, in the dirt all summer long.

The gold is mined with a floating dredge. There are not really too many of these in operation these days. In fact, this may be the only floating dredge in operation in North America. We always say “maybe” on that because I guess there could be one somewhere out there. You never know.

Their dredge is a giant boat kind of thing with huge metal buckets. It floats along the river (a small section each season) and scoops up the gravel bringing it into the dredge where it’s tossed and turned separating out rocks and dirt…..and the final product is the gold. It’s pretty spectacular.  

The gold I sent you was some that my kids helped to sort one summer while they were out on the mine. I can’t wait to see my mom’s final product. She is very excited about it.
heritage gold mine alaska

The family's floating Dredge

The Ring

custom wood ring

Alder Wood Ring with Purple Agate, Guitar String, and Heritage Alaskan Gold

We began by using Alder Wood for the ring base and inlaid Purple Agate that was sourced and donated by an employee. We then inlaid a salvaged guitar string and finished the ring design with Diana's heritage Alaskan gold flakes. We think the result is stunning. 

If you would like to work with us to create a truly one-of-a-kind ring, don't hesitate to contact us via our commission form or reach out via email or telephone. We love crafting rings by working with you to create something we could never have come up with on our own. 

custom wood ring

Alder Wood Ring with Purple Agate, Guitar String, and Heritage Alaskan Gold

Posted on

Chicago Father’s Day Part I : Local Gift Roundup

It's that time of year. Chicagoans crawl out of hibernation and fathers are celebrated, near and far. Here's our Chicago-centric gift guide (including a shameless plug of our insanely handsome Father's Ring). Shop local! 


+ For the Crafty Dad

Scrimshaw Set

This Mollyjogger scrimshaw knife kit has the potential to capitalize on any of dad's downtime--give him something to apply his long, contemplative silences to. 

Here's what Mollyjogger has to say about the art of scrimshaw: 

"Scrimshaw is an early American art form originating from the whaling industry in the late 1700’s. During the many idle hours at sea, a whaler etched drawings of nautical themes on items that were readily available to him such as sperm whale teeth and bones. His primary etching instrument was a sail needle, nail or pocket knife. After he scratched his art work into the surface of the bone, he would rub lamp black or tobacco juice into the scratch to reveal the drawing. As America traveled west, the frontiersmen carried the art form with them, applying it to their powderhorns, knives and other accoutrements."

+ For the Crafty Dad (with More Time on His Hands)

Woodworking Chisels
Fibonacci Curl

One of our employees gave her husband this set and he almost cried. For the aspiring heritage woodworker, these chisels are literally perfection. If you can't tell, we're a fan of using reclaimed materials. You could double the impact of this gift with some credit to the Rebuilding Exchange

The great benefit our employee got out of this gift is that her husband now builds unique, handmade shelves, tables, containers, and plant stands for their apartment at a fraction of the cost. 

<-- Watch this satisfying GIF of wood curling into perfect fibonacci spirals. 

+ For the Stylish, Nearsighted Papa 

Drift Eyewear Chicago

Atticus / Tortoise Matte / Wenge on Walnut

We've got a theme rolling here, so let's keep on with it for a second. What's cooler than reclaimed/sustainable wooden eyewear? Not much. The dad in your life deserves these Chicago-made eyeglasses. Check out Drift Eyewear for some seriously handsome spectacles. 

+ For the Eco-Friendly Papi

Fathers Ring on Cholla

Father's Ring : Rosewood | Pine | Cedar

This design is one of our favorites yet. It's so simple and warm. The Father's Ring represents rustic, nature-lovers well; and, each ring is personalized and custom-made by hand, here in our Chicago studio. For a complete list of birthwoods and their meaning/mythology check out the main Birthwood page.

N. B. Our workload is heavy, especially around this year so, if you'd like your ring in time for Father's Day (June 18th) you'll need to order your ring today! Also, be sure to check "Expedite" so that your order gets created and shipped out in three weeks. 

+ For the Bearded Baba

Damascus Steel Comb by Chicago Comb

onsider this glorious Damascus Steel comb available on the Horween Leather Company's web-store. It's a pricey item at $350.00 but the combs are made in Chicago and come with a high quality non-toxic Horween leather sheath. So, yeah. 

+ For the Distinguished Pater

Few Spirits Gin

Last, but not least, help him unwind with a glass of distinguished whiskey and spirits made here in Chicago. Here's some copy from Few's "Genesis" section on their website: 

Founded as a dry community, Evanston was home to many influential advocates for Prohibition who effectively kept the city free of alcohol for more than one hundred years.

Though the city legalized drinking in the late Nineties, it took the perseverance of our Master Distiller, Paul Hletko, to reverse the antiquated liquor laws. With roots going back to some of Europe's fabled brewing families, Paul and FEW Spirits have marked the end of Evanston's Prohibition and given the city its very own craft distillery.

Or, if single barrel whiskey is more his thing Koval is the best we know, in town. Plus we're teaming up with them for something special later in the year. So, stay tuned! 

Koval Whiskey

Posted on

Engage Naturally — Our Earth Day Initiative

Engage Naturally Simply Wood Rings

In honor of Earth Day, from April 1st to the 22nd (that's Earth Day, folks), we are donating 10% of the price of your order to an environmental charity of your choice.* If you have any questions, comments, or suggestions let us know on our Facebook, Instagram, or via email

*For now, we're focusing on the following four organizations: 

Environmental Defense Fund

EDF Logo Background

The Environmental Defense Fund, or EDF, works on policy reform and corporate responsibility to do the following : provide clean air by driving down our collective exposure to pollutants and toxic chemicals; increase agricultural resiliency by creating economic demand for sustainable and climate-adaptive farming, ranching, and water efficiency programs; expanding sustainable fishing worldwide; and, finding solutions that will have the biggest impact on the clean energy market in the United States.

You can read more about the EDF on their website at :

The Sierra Club Foundation

Sierra Club Rocky

The Sierra Club Foundation attempts to find climate solutions and continues the legacy of conservation in the United States. The Sierra Club defends against coal and clears the way for clean, renewable energy solutions (solar and wind). They also protect America’s wild places and the beauty, escape, clean water, wildlife habitat, and recreational opportunities they provide by keeping fossil fuels in the ground and attempting to secure permanent protection for national treasures. The Sierra Club also offers a Military Outdoors program that successfully works to bring over 50,000 service members, veterans, and their families outside. This program increases physical activity, outdoor recreation, and education that improves academic performance, reduces stress and anxiety, and mitigates the effects of PTSD and traumatic brain injury in the military veterans returning from active service. The Sierra Club currently funds The Great Outdoors Lab — a groundbreaking research study documenting the biological and emotional effects of spending time outdoors.

Read about the Sierra Club’s initiatives here :


Earthjustice logo

You may have heard this Charity Navigator 4-star-rated Earthjustice PSAs on the radio or while listening to a podcast. Their slogan is “Because the Earth needs a good lawyer.” Earthjustice works on a variety of projects, some of these include: protecting endangered species such as wolves; preserving rich, sustainable and diverse heritage of the arctic regions, the ocean ecosystem, America’s wild lands, and wildlife; promoting healthy communities by fighting for clean air, water, and agricultural practices; championing clean energy systems, mitigating the effects of climate change, and reducing reliance on coal and oil and gas drilling.

Read about where your money goes here :

National Resources Defense Council (NRDC)

The Earth's Best Defense : NRDC

The NRDC was founded in 1970 by a group of law students and attorneys at the forefront of the environmental movement. Their dedicated staff works in more than a dozen program areas such as: the Center for Market Innovation; climate and clean air; land and wildlife; oceans; environmental justice; food and agriculture; health and environment; water; urban solutions; and energy and transportation. Like Earthjustice, the NDRC is fully transparent with their finances and gets the highest accolades from charity rating organizations such as Charity Navigator and the Better Business Bureau. The NDRC experts utilize data and science to unearth the root causes of problems that confront us all. They then use this information to create transformative solutions and policies.

Read about this organization, in-depth here :

Earth day initiative. Earth Day donation by Simply Wood Rings. Jewelry business donation, Chicago.

Posted on

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, 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

*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.

Posted on

How to have an eco-friendly Thanksgiving

thanksgiving, dinner, decorations, rings, wooden rings, simply wood rings, local, eco, eco friendly

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.

market, farmers market, thanksgiving, meal, local, shopping, healthy, tomatoes, rings, wooden rings, simply wood rings

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.

candles, thanksgiving, dinner, eco, friendly, wooden, rings, wood rings, local, chicago, simply wood rings,

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!