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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. 

gustav reyes of Simply Wood Rings

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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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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4 Ways to Give Eco-Friendly Gifts This Season!

Eco-Friendly Holiday Gift Ideas

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 or Environmental Charity

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.

Consider donating in your friend’s name to the Environmental Defense Fund, National Resources Defense Council, The Sierra Club, or any other foundation they are a fan of. 


EDF Logo Background

2) Gift 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!


Penguin Foot Pottery Chicago

Gift a class at Penguin Foot pottery in Chicago

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….

The best resource for DIY crafts is of course Pinterest. I’ve been obsessing over polymer clay recently and Pinterest has some really beautiful instructables and inspiration. 


Polymer Clay Necklace

Polymer Clay Necklace

Polymer Clay Necklace

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?

If you’re in Chicago, check out the local business Alapash in Ravenswood that offers ready-made terrariums and kits. 


Alapash Home and Terrarium

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

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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. 


oak, tree, rings, wood, wooden, wedding, engagement, set, strength, oak tree, simply wood rings

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.


strength, souls, rings, wedding rings, wedding, engagement, wood, wooden rings, wooden, malachite, turquoise, oak
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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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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!


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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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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!!