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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!

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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!

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Sitting in a Tree Ring | Remembing Moms Courage

Moms courage

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.

5-10-15 Best Day Ever

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.

My every day rings (the ring on the right is made from some of my Mom’s ashes)

 

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.

Thank you all from the bottom of my heart.

 

 

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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!

Gifts

+ 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

Consider 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

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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!​