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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!!

souls, strength, rings, wood, wooden rings, wedding rings, simply wood rings, local, handmade, chicago, malachite, oak, tree, ring set

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!

custom ring, inlay, wedding ring, wooden ring, engagement ring, simply wood rings

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!!

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What Makes Simply Wood Rings Eco-Friendly?

Simply Wood Rings is an eco-conscious company. You may be asking yourself “what does that even mean?” since we use wood for our rings. First of all, we do not cut down trees just for rings! This is a misconception that is frequently believed. We get our wood from a number of places, which I will explain below!

One place we get wood from is a company called Horigan Urban Forest Products. They recycle the urban forest here in Chicago to it’s highest possible uses. They use the same trees that go to firewood or mulch and turn them into usable hardwood lumber. They are committed to the environment by reducing the number of trees removed from the forest, the amount of fuel consumed for transportation, and the amount of carbon that is released into the atmosphere by sequestering it as hardwood lumber. Their beautiful wood is produced without a single tree being removed for lumber. All wood is originated from Chicago, Il.

We also get wood from artists and cabinet makers that have businesses in our building, the Midland building. The Midland Art and Design building is a collective of local artisans, craftsmen, and their respective companies. All M.A.D. members work under one roof and they design, create, showcase, and sell all forms of work + products within the Midland Building. Midland Art and Design is made up of furniture designers, print makers, installation artists, fashion designers, woodworkers, sculptors, and much more. So much lumber is left over from their projects, so we reuse that wood for our rings. It’s basically like dumpster diving and repurposing right in our own building.

One of the coolest ways we get our wood is from an old xylophone factory in Chicago. All of our rosewood comes from xylophone keys that were bought from that factory. The building is in Ravenswood and is called the Deagan building after the family that owned the xylophone factory. Now the building houses small companies, one of which is a glass factory.

Another cool way we get wood is that sometimes customers provide the wood they want us to use and then if they are really nice they will let us keep the leftover wood! We have been given baseball bats, part of a swing, a grandfather’s cane, and part of a barn door. These are all such awesome pieces and we get really excited when we are offered the chance to work with new wooden items.

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360 Degrees of Awesome

Often we only show you one view of a ring (so many rings, so little time!) but we thought we’d splash into the Photoshop pool to show you the many pretty and different views of the “x” inlay. Such movement!

Oak Lapis Cross Inlay 4 Way View
oak lapis

Want to know more about how our rings are durable and different? Check out our “About Rings” page.

top: oak ring trio l: lapis lazuli “x” inlay,
center: mother of pearl,
right:lapis lazuli
bottom: a 360-degree view of the “x” inlay

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Prong Setting Super Post

Prong Setting Super Post

In 1872 Ferdinand J. Herpers patented the prong setting for the Tiffany Company, who had introduced it as the “Tiffany Setting” in 1886.

It is an embrace of a setting, the prongs used in a similar way to how we use the fingers of our hands.

At SWR, we’re always amazed at how different one prong-set ring looks from another. Recently, we’ve moved away from a simple pin-mounted setting. We like to use a prong setting laser-welded to a metal ring inlay. as you’ll see below. We find they’re stronger that way, and quite striking.

garnet set
rosewood, garnet, patina’d gold<

raw diamond
walnut, client-provided raw diamond

topaz setting

Moissianite Engagement ring
dark bogwood, moissanite, mother of pearl inlay

Engagement Set Inlay
rosewood, topaz, opal inlay

Contrasting Set Rings
rosewood and steel, moissanite

Interested in your own prong set wood ring? Get started by filling out our Custom Ring form!

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A Sweet Hero of a Ring

A Sweet Hero of a Ring

There’s something about this ring that reminds us of the magical, the mythical, the fairy tale, the legendary. It’s a ring that unlocks, that graces a hero, that signifies unseen strength and depth.

It reminds us of the feeling you get in your chest, the embrace and tension, right before doing good: committing acts of kindness, making other peoples’ lives better in some small or large way. It’s the enjoyment of humanity and the collective.

Yowza!

Yes, we admit it. We are total and utter Romantic ring nerds. And we’re proud.

Want to be a ring nerd? Discover your magic in the shop!

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Bob & Monica: Ring Update!

Hey, do you all remember the lovely Monica and Bob, the artist-musician couple we wrote about on the blog a couple months back?

We finished their rings! And they’re gorgeous.

Bob & Monica: Rings

Bob’s ring (bottom) is made of purpleheart, lined wenge. Monica’s (standing) is the reverse. As you can see, both the purpleheart and the wenge have a crazy amount of tonal depth. The variance of wood never ceases to amaze us. We guess that’s why we dedicate a lot of our lives to it.

Want to make us a ring of a special wood or material in your life?

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Shop Visit Photoblog: Matt & Tatiana

Matt and Tatiana thought they’d get the rings all wrapped up and head out but when they tried them on, they didn’t want to take them off! We asked them to pose for a few candids, then sent them off in the direction of a favorite neighborhood restaurant. When clients are around, the joy just does not stop!

Shop Visit Photoblog: Matt & Tatiana

rings Matt & Tatiana
Their rings are rosewood and mother of pearl. Like the looks of them? Check out the shop.

This is what happened when we asked them to kiss for the camera:
Matt & Tatiana

Matt & Tatiana rings

Matt & Tatiana rings

Ready to make your own wood wedding rings? Head to the Custom Order page!

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Meet Us at the Not Wedding!

Meet Us at the Not Wedding!
Event: THE NOT WEDDING
Details: August 14, 2014 – 6:30 PM @ City View Lofts
Special discount: check the end of the post to learn more.

We love all of our clients, so much. We love talking to them and collaborating with them and taking pictures of their bright, beautiful faces when they stop by the shop. Most of all: we love that we get to share in the making of a meaningful object.

Often, those meaningful objects are engagement, wedding, and commitment rings.  And we’re so excited to contribute to so many special days!

Because of this, we often find ourselves at wedding-centric events. We don’t often go to large conventional expos–most people there are on the search for more traditional rings–and so it’s special, niche events where we turn up. They’re chock-full of sweet people and pretty things, cleverness and magic and light. We were used to the idea of setting up the rings, talking to folks, being a part of the fair melee. We figured we knew the routine. Until now.

From our friends at Green Wedding Alliance (with whom we do the fantastic, annual “Committed” show), we heard about THE NOT WEDDING.

It’s not a wedding, but it’s not not a wedding.

And we’re pleased as punch to be providing the engagement rings and wedding bands for the not-couple, who are local Chicago married folks who will be renewing their vows at the event.

We’ll also be in the Tunnel of Love (vendor fair) to talk to guests about our rings and their dreams!

fetured vendor badge

So join us for a dynamite dinner, super-fun dance floor, and awesome, hand-picked vendor-rama to get some great ideas for your own special day.

Interested in coming? Want a discounted ticket? We’d love to share our golden tickets. Email Amanda at amanda @ gustavreyes DOT com to let us know!

the Not Wedding!

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Spotlight: Client-and-Ring Specialist Allison is a Not-So-Secret Artiste!

Happy Monday!

When you receive your Simply Wood Ring, you’ll receive a thank you note from us: we believe it’s important to display our gratitude on a daily basis, many times over. We’re are lucky — SO LUCKY — to be working with wonderful people and beautiful materials day in and day out.

Allison — who gets to talk to clients and collaborate on rings every day — sometimes adds her own little flair to the notes…and what a flair it is!

Allison wishes a client happy birthday:
Allison wishes a client happy birthday card

Allison lets another member of the team know she says “hello!”:
 Allison lets another member of the team know she says hello

Allison draws a pensive portrait of Gustav, accompanied by a similarly pensive quote:
gustav portrate by allison

Allison keeps this moustachioed gentleman-ring* nearby for jazzy midday inspiration:
Moustache Ring By Allison

Allison draws from memory an older man whom she saw at GreenFest Chicago 2013:

Old Man By Allison
Simply Wood Rings is a wonderful place to be, and Allison’s cartoons are totally awesome reminder!

Wishing you teammates as great and supportive as ours…

*We would totally wear this ring!

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Suzie & Niche & Their Rings

Our client Suzie sent us the SWEETEST email, one in a series of VERY SWEET emails:

“I just don’t think we would have ever felt like this about any other rings. It’s like they’re alive and a piece of us, a piece of one another. This morning I received a text from Niche stating how sad he was because he forgot to put his ring back on when he got out of the shower before work. And then a little later on he sent me one stating that it’s bad enough being without me all day, but since he’s been wearing his ring it’s like he can look down and there I am with him all the time and it makes his day better, but today he hasn’t even had that. It’s just crazy how something so simple like a wooden ring can carry so much weight.

I don’t usually like to place much value in material things, but these really are different. They really are a part of something. A part of us, and you, and the craftsperson, and Chicago, and the tree, and the stones, and the Earth. They really are FULL circles.

It’s just really nice and comforting to feel the ‘warmth of wood’  (pretty sure I stole that from y’all somewhere along the way) and know that there are people out there who have respect for and honor their work and nature.”

natural diamond ring

Sales-wonder Allison collaborated with Suzie to design this beautiful natural diamond, patina’d silver and rich walnut ring. Niche’s is a simple and beautiful walnut band, to match.

All of these beautiful photos below are by Martina Rachau!

Suzie & Niche & Their Rings
Suzie & Niche & Their Rings
Suzie & Niche & Their Rings

We congratulate Suzie and Niche on their matrimony, and on being awesome people!

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An Australian Wedding with Our Rosewood Rings, courtesy Photog James Day

“I Photograph People In Love”

Day messaged us to show us the beautiful images he’d taken of Kris and Brooke, two of our clients who recently wedded with a pair of our rosewood rings.

Rosewood Rings, courtesy Photog James Day
credit: James Day

You can see more of Kris and Brooke’s wedding, and James Day’s outrageously excellent work, here.

We love seeing where our rings end up! If you have one of our rings, we’d love to see a professional ceremony shot, amateur snap, or recent selfie. Show us your be’ringed adventures! Show us the work in beautiful motion! Email amanda (at) gustavreytes (dot) com with your shots and we’ll post them here!

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Client Visit Photoblog: A Lovely Couple Named Michael and Sarah, and Their Beautiful Fossil Rings

When Michael and Sarah came into the shop, you could feel the sweet energy coming off them. Their love was almost a physical presence. It was a hot, sticky day here in Pilsen, but knowing that we’d get to show Michael and Sarah their awesome fossil rings kept us alert. (What would we do after? Gulp some coffee and continue to serve, if a bit sluggishly…)

Michael and Sarah, and Their Beautiful Fossil Rings
Sarah and Michael’s rings, set with fossils they found together, and made with foraged Koa they brought from Hawaii.

Michael and Sarah, and Their Beautiful Fossil Rings
The couple admires Sarah’s ring!

Sarah Beautiful Fossil Ring
Sarah takes a closer look.

wood earring<
Sarah’s earrings are wood too! And beautiful.

Michael Beautiful Fossil Ring
The lovely couple…and baby-in-belly makes three!

Michael and Sarah, we wish you a happy and sweet life. Thanks for bringing your joy into the studio!

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Balance & Growth: Ebony/Birdseye Maple Wedding Set

Balance & Growth: Ebony/Birdseye Maple Wedding Set

These rings came out of the shop today and made us moon-eyed.

Partnerships are all about balance, or a constant engagement to work toward balance.

These rings — ebony and birdseye maple — present and enactment of those sweet efforts. The throughline, what binds them, is a shimmering inlay of ruby, yellow topaz, and mother of pearl.

In the pictured rough-hewn box, the rings will have a beautiful place to rest together, while their owners going swimming or rock climbing or whatever heavy activities they like to do.

A scrap of a poem, from Alice Notley’s “Clinical Thermometer with Moonstone,” via The Poetry Foundation: “I love you as a fan loves air. oops it’s vice-versa I told you about that character She is a bezel awaiting the plop of a ruby she must grow chronically”

We wish for the wearers of these rings to grow chronically, together, in balance, and to have a beautiful life together!

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So Fresh, So Clean: The New Site Is Up!

Dear Friends,

It’s almost our 10th anniversary. Technically, traditionally, that’s tin, but we prefer to think of it as “double-wood”! As a gift to ourselves, and a gift to you, we’ve put together a sweet new site that tells your stories and displays everything that makes us special as a company. (Hint: a large part of that is you all.)

First, here’s what the site looked like in 2006. A bit nineties, to our eye, for sure. It’s nice, though, to see we had that simple elegance from the start. [Insert winking emoticon here!]

The New Site Is Up!

And, [drum roll as loud as thunder],  here’s our brand new look!

The New Site Is Up!

On the site, (which can still be found at simplywoodrings.com), you’ll be able to get to the meat of the matter (wood rings! how wonderful they are! how to take care of them! the team!) while enjoying beautiful pictures of our wares, all under the sheltering sky (banner) the color of seawater in a cave.

We hope you’ll take time to explore the new site. Contact us with comments and suggestions. In the coming week, we’ll be expanding the gallery selection to show off even more beauty that’s coming out of the shop.

Share, share alike, shout from mountaintops, re-post, blog and skywrite just as much as your heart desires.

Stay tuned for exciting evolutions and fun adventures!

Yours,
The SWR Team

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Dreamin’ On: Monica & Bob Visit the Studio


Our new friends Bob and Monica

The other day, we had the most wonderful couple come in from Wisconsin. Monica’s a biologist-turned-found object artist, and Bob’s a musician. They drove to Chicago to bring us some wood, set up a custom order, and pick up her daughter from the airport. The weather was sweet and warm, and they planned to spend some time on the lake, but first, the business at hand.

Bob said they had been “dreamin’ on” our rings for a few years, and now it was finally time. From Monica’s family’s farm in Michigan, they had brought a piece of purpleheart, and hope to also use a lighter piece of wood accidentally left at home, and on its way to us now. They settled on the darker wood band for him, and the lighter wood band for her, with inverse linings. “A yin and yang sort of thing!” Allison said, and they nodded happily.

Dreamin' On: Monica & Bob Visit the Studio
Wood from Monica’s family farm

We are lucky, on an almost-daily basis, to witness such love and resolution and balance and partnership. It makes our chests thrum with buzzy delight! It’s all the more special that we get to hear stories of lives all over the world, of the people we work with and the wood which we are honored to set our hands upon.

After the ring decisions were made, Gustav showed Monica and Bob around the studio.

It emerged that Monica runs an arts center called Nisse House of Art, which hosts a gallery, shop, studios, and workshops for low-income rural women and girls, teaching arts, craftwork and life skills. So cool! Let us reiterate: we meet the best people.

After a long and winding talk about Gustav’s possibly-favorite tree, (the Ailanthus), about Chicago, and Monica’s childhood as a “country girl” living in Detroit and New York, and the shifting/growing/changing of our cities, Monica and Bob had to say goodbye.

We waved after them, feeling lighter and more joyous for having met them.

gus bob and monica<
Gustav, Monica and Bob talk wood.

After they left, Gustav reminisced more about the Ailanthus tree, which is famous in literary circles for playing the part of the “tree” of Betty Smith’s classic 1943 novel A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, and famous in the inner-city, where it’s called “tree of heaven” and “ghetto palm,” and can grow through chainlink and concrete. “To take this tree that had such history in Asia, and bring it here as a decorative tree in front of Craftsman houses, and then it gets forgotten, but now it’s invasive, it still grows in vacant lots, through foundations, anywhere…” Gustav trailed off, and made a big sigh of awe.

From the novel:

“The one tree in Francie’s yard was neither a pine nor a hemlock. It had pointed leaves which grew along green switches which radiated from the bough and made a tree which looked like a lot of opened green umbrellas. Some people called it the Tree of Heaven. No matter where its seed fell, it made a tree which struggled to reach the sky. It grew in boarded-up lots and out of neglected rubbish heaps and it was the only tree that grew out of cement. It grew lushly, but only in the tenements districts.”

Ailanthus Tree
via Chicago Botanic Gardens

We’ve been thinking a lot about feelings of belonging lately: immigration, community, gentrification. Human beings are more mobile than ever. We’re less likely to live in the place where we’re born. We are children and children’s children of people who crossed borders and traversed oceans. We stand in the shade of trees which will be growing long after we are gone. We plant trees that will bear seeds that spread for miles.

At Simply Wood Rings, our work carries all of this with it. When a human wears a wooden ring, the two entities are suddenly on the same timeline. We are allowed to travel together, to move throughout the world: things rooted and mobile at once.

We wish Monica and Bob happiness and adventure, peace and joy. And we can’t wait to show them (and you) their rings!

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On Glitter, and Value

No one ever wants glitter.

We wish someone would!

Or perhaps ground pyrite (fool’s gold), shimmering under the finish as it would in the fast currents of the creek.

Pyrite elbe

Fool’s gold itself (image by Didier Descouens, via Wikipedia

At the studio, one of us remembers discovering a chunk of pyrite during a creek walk at Pilgrim Hills. She was five at the time, and only beginning to understand the idea of currency. Fishing it up from the sandy bottom, she hollered: “We’re rich!” Like Scrooge McDuck or Donald Trump. Her mother giggled a bit, had to explain as they walked home that though the rock was beautiful, it wasn’t gold. Their bank balance would remain the same. They would have to skip a lazy backstroke through a room-sized vault of doubloons. They watched a whitetail deer mince along the treeline. “But it’s still really beautiful,” her mother said. “You should keep it on your windowsill where it’ll reflect the light.”

At Simply Wood Rings, we work with this kind of beauty: the natural, the authentic. Sure: money helps us all live in our contemporary lives, but natural beauty feeds a different part. This is why we love doing what we do. We’re not only spellbound but inspired by our materials, their past lives, their journeys. They reflect our own evolutions as people on a planet full of uncountable types and forms of beauties.

Seashore's Muse: Rosewood and Mother of Pearl

Seashore’s Muse: Rosewood and Mother of Pearl

Consider: that we want our rings to call attention to this kind of natural wealth.
Consider: that for us, they do.

Be it glitter or pyrite or fossil or ancient woods.
Wishing you some beauty today, wherever you may find it.

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When Style Aids Authenticity

Style and adornment are a way to embolden and announce your interiority to the outside world. So, let’s all be authentic. Let’s all greet the world with kindness. Embrace who you are and who you strive to be.

Most of the people we work with come to us at a time of engagement, marriage or anniversary: they’re affirming and reaffirming their commitment to each other, the value of good Earth citizenship, and the lifecycle of matter.

But there isn’t any reason to save that celebration for just a romantic occasion

  • Consider, adorning your hand with a reminder of the things you believe.
  • Consider, giving your best friend a birthday present that means something special.
  • Consider, passing on a talisman of earth to a family member, a tree to the family tree.

We believe that we make objects that mean something, out of materials that are sustainable. By wearing one of our rings, you can make your own meaning. Why wait to have or give that?
Here are two new rings that we love, that work perfectly no matter the purpose.

When Style Aids Authenticity

Dyed birdseye maple with a rosewood interior.

In real life, this beauty shimmers like we imagine a mermaid might. Or, it is the silver of a spring, or the sweet ethereal mist of twilight. Wearing a ring like this inserts some magic dreaminess into the everyday.

 

When Style Aids Authenticity
Rosewood, using the natural color abnormality of the lumber

This one by design uses contrast and as a result feels uber-contemporary. Like dominoes or like black-and-white cookies, the colors work together strikingly. In it is confidence, a 3″-high newspaper headline, strength and force and elegance all at once.

Let our work be one small step toward matching your insides to your outsides. May you find pleasure therein.

Happy Wednesday!