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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.

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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!​

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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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How to have an eco-friendly Thanksgiving

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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.

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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.

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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! 

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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. 

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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 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.


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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What Makes Willow Wood so Wonderful?

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Willow is the Birthwood that represents the month os September and is one of our favorite woods! The willow tree has always been one of my favorite trees, but it can be used for many different things and has many different meanings! 

Willow Tree

Willow is a decidedly aromatic tree found most often near waterways throughout temperate regions. It has a history of a long- standing relationship of usefulness- medicinal, magical, and otherwise. The willow tree is most associated with the moon, water, Goddesses, and all that is feminine. It is the tree of dreaming and deep emotions. It is a tree of enchantment and was associated in Celtic folklore with poets and spells of fascination. The energy of the willow wood puts us in touch with our deepest emotions and inspires us to come to an understanding of ourselves. It stimulates our intuituve side and helps us find the right path in life. 

Willow Wood

The North American indigenous tribe called the Seneca, has a long bond with the willow tree. They consider it to be a source of gentile humility, charm, and grace. 

On an herbal level, willow bark has been used for it's pain-relieving qualities for at least 2,000 years. All varieties of the tree can be used as an eyewash, to clear skin, and get rid of dandruff. Willow has also been known to be useful in cases of nervousness and hysteria. It can be used to loosen the chest when someone is sick with a cough or pneumonia as well. 

Now that you know some more about the willow tree, check out our Birthwood ring section to see our Willow Wood ring and the rest of our Birthwood line! 

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What is a Moissanite?

While browsing our site, you may have noticed that we use what is called a moissanite in almost all of our rings with stones in them. I have realized that most people don't know what exactly a moissanite is, and have never even heard of it before viewing our rings! Well, I am here to let you know just exactly what a moissanite is!

Moissanites are stones that are an eco-friendly alternative to diamonds. Most people want diamonds in their rings because of the sparkle and hardness of them, which is totally understandable! The only thing is that diamonds are not always eco-friendly and most of the time their origins are unknown. This is why a scientist named Henri Moissan created an alternative to diamonds. He discovered moissanite crystals in a crater that was created by a meteorite in 1893. He realized these crystals had more brilliance than a diamond and he found out they were composed of silicon carbonate.  Since the crystals are extremely hard to find in nature being that they come from a meteorite, he decided to start growing them in science labs. Henri Moissan later won the nobel prize for his discoveries. 

The moissanites that we get to use in our wooden rings come from a company called Charles and Colvard. They are one of the top leading moissanite distributors in the world. Moissanites have been proven to have a hardness of 9.25 on the Mohs scale of hardness, which makes it one of the hardest substances on earth!  This means that it can resist all surface scratching as well as having an incredible brilliance to it. 

Since we are an eco-friendly business and are incredibly conscious of where all our materials come from, we really couldn't find anything better than moissanites to use in our rings. We hope you love them just as much as we do!! 

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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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The Importance of Ephemeral Jewelry

Jewelry has been around from the beginning of time. Some of the first recorded jewelry was made by neanderthals using bones they found. The earliest finding of jewelry was dated around 25,000 years ago. This simple necklace made of fish bones was found in a cave in Monaco.

Of course, jewelry made thousands of years ago isn’t like the jewelry we wear today. When researching ancient jewelry and techniques that civilizations used, one thing I found to be interesting was the ephemeral nature of most of the jewelry. A lot of the time at the office we speak about our jewelry as being ephemeral because of the nature of the material we use. This transient nature is one of the main reasons we use wood. Wood is fragile, it connects us to the earth, it doesn’t last forever, and keeps us in the present moment. I saw that in some of the materials that were used in ancient jewelry, like shells, feathers, hair, rope, wood, and bone. All of these materials are episodic, impermanent, and temporary, and in this we find beauty.

Jewelry has been around from the beginning of time. Some of the first recorded jewelry was made by neanderthals using bones they found. The earliest finding of jewelry was dated around 25,000 years ago. This simple necklace made of fish bones was found in a cave in Monaco. Of course, jewelry made thousands of years ago isn’t like the jewelry we wear today. When researching ancient jewelry and techniques that civilizations used, one thing I found to be interesting was the ephemeral nature of most of the jewelry. A lot of the time at the office we speak about our jewelry as being ephemeral because of the nature of the material we use. This transient nature is one of the main reasons we use wood. Wood is fragile, it connects us

Feather and Shell Necklace from New Guinea  photo courtesy of pinterest

In New Guinea, people started making jewelry with the objects they found around them, like bones, tusks, teeth, and gemstones. Some of the jewelry that they created was highly valued because of how impermanent it was. They would create pieces from flowers, rare shells, and precious stones. These pieces connected them to the land they were from, and gave them a sense of identity and place in the world. The pieces were not about durability, but about importance in the moment. In Africa, a lot of tribes used wood to carve into beads and paint and then string together for necklaces. The wood was a material they had readily available, but at the same time served as a connection for them to the land they appreciated and represented.

african jewelry, jewelry, wooden jewelry, wood, tribal, painted wood, beads, necklaces, ephemeral

African Wood Necklaces  photo courtesy of

Jewelry later came to denote human connection and commitment to one another. Slaves were made to wear bracelets to show who they belonged to. Wedding rings symbolized the commitment two people had for each other. Some jewelry of the ephemeral nature that represents this concept is Victorian hair jewelry. People would take the hair from deceased loved ones and weave it into necklaces and other pieces of jewelry.

                                Victorian Hair Jewelry  Photo Courtesy of Gordon McDowell

These are all examples of jewelry that weren't intended to last forever, like a diamond or precious metal, but were made to have a specific significance in place and time that was important to the person wearing the piece. Jewelry is special in that it connects us to the people around us and the place where the materials are from. We take pride in these values since we use all locally salvaged wood and the stories of our customers.

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Hollywood In Chicago

hollywood, chicago, film, movies, pilsen, midland, rings, wood, ring, handmade

Photo via

      Here at the shop, we are all big film lovers. Our shop is located inside a building in Chicago called the Midland Building, and we found out that part of the movie Divergent was filmed on our roof! We thought it was so cool that we should share it with you. The Midland Building is an old industrial building, which is a perfect setting for the futuristic, sci-fi, urban dystopia in Divergent. You can see other distinguishable landmarks in the movie, like the Willis Tower, the Ferris Wheel at Navy Pier, and the Chicago River. 

divergent, chicago, cinespace, hollywood, movies, pilsen, midland, urban, wood, ring, rings, handmade

Divergent was filmed with the company Cinespace, which is a block away from our building. Cinespace is responsible for shows like Chicago Fire, Chicago P.D., and Empire. We even saw Sophia Bush on the street one day while walking to lunch! If you ever want to try to catch a glimpse of a movie or T.V. show being filmed, head on over to Pilsen to check it out! 

Below is a video that shows the characters jumping onto the Midland Building! 

Check out Cinespace by going to their website:

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Ideas For Showing Your Mother Love On Mother’s Day

Mother's rings

Mother's Day is right around the corner, just five days away!! We are so excited and have thought of different events you can go to in Chicago with your mother or gifts you can send to her! Whether you are able to spend Mother's Day with your mom or not, show her some love this year with an extra special something. 

Places to go in Chicago


1) Magnolia Bakery -

Photo via 

Is your mom an avid baker or lover of sweets? Magnolia Bakery is offering a special Mother's Day class where you and your mom can learn how to make and decorate their world famous cupcakes. Your mom will always have a fun dessert to bring to parties after learning these techniques! 

2) Rebuilding Exchange -

If your mom is the craft type, you could take her to a woodworking workshop at the rebuilding exchange. The Rebuilding Exchange uses all salvaged materials, which is why we love them! They have workshops from wooden planters to frame building just for you and your mom on Mother's Day. She will always have a reminder of what a special day you planned for her with her handmade craft. 

3) Green City Market

Photo via 

The Saturday before Mother's Day the Green City Market has it's first farmer's market of the season! Grab some fresh, local fruits and veggies with your mom so the two of you can cook an amazing brunch together on Sunday! You could even have a picnic in the park after exploring the market. 

4) City Winery -

If you want to relive some memories with your mom over a glass of wine, head over to City Winery for their story sessions brunch. They will be featuring stories about moms all day in honor of Mother's Day. 


1) The Dawson -

Looking for a brunch place with an outdoor patio and fireplace? Look no further than the Dawson. They have one of the best patios in the city with an amazing Mother's Day brunch menu to go with it. 

2) Cindy's -

Photo via

Another restaurant with an amazing outdoor area is Cindy's. They are located on the 13th floor of the Athletic Association building and provide views of Millennium Park from their balcony. You could even walk over to the Art Institute afterwards and see the Van Gogh exhibit before it leaves.

3) Bohemian House -

photo via

If you are looking for an escape from the city look no further than Bohemian House. Being there will make you feel like you have traveled from Chicago to Eastern Europe. They have a special brunch menu for Mother's Day and a build your own mimosa bar. What more could you ask for? 


Not able to spend time with your mom on Mother's Day? We also have some great gift ideas for her!

1) Michelle Starbuck Designs  -

We are always on the lookout for awesome jewelry and we love Michelle Starbuck! Her designs are super sleek and beautiful, perfect for any mother. 

2) Little Seed Farm Soap

photo via

This soap is made from goat's milk from a farm in Tennessee, what could be cuter? You can even "meet" the goats on their website. They also have awesome wooden soap dishes. A perfect gift for the mother who loves to pamper herself 

3) CAsouls -

CAsouls creates morse code bracelets and necklaces, which we think is pretty awesome. Why not get a necklace that says "mom" in morse code so you and your mom can have a special secret together? They are also beautiful pieces of jewelry. 

We hope that you all have an amazing Mother's Day this year and we hope our list helped you with some ideas! 

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What you can do for Earth Day!!

Photo Courtesy of

Earth day is this Friday, and we are so excited! Did you know Earth Day has only been around since 1970? Now there are more than 193 countries who observe Earth day around the world. We are an eco-conscious business, and we try to do our part to make sure to conserve the Earth's natural resources. All of the wood we use for our rings is salvaged and reused, we never cut down any trees for our rings!  Are you wondering how you can take part in Earth Day in a few simple ways? We have made a list for you! Incorporate these things into your everyday life as well to be extra eco-conscious!

  1.  Join a community garden

Photo Courtesy of

Chicago has a ton of community gardens around the city. You can join and start growing your own vegetables and herbs today! Another idea is to start a window sill garden if you only want to plant small things. Locally sourced food cuts down on gas costs from airplanes shipping food and pesticides that get put into the soil from farming.

2. Unplug all electronics when they aren't in use or when you leave the house

Leaving electronics plugged in uses energy even when those appliances may not be in use. Unplugging them is easy and only takes a few seconds and could prevent a potential fire in your house as well! 

3. Buy green cleaning products 

Organic cleaning products clean without the use of chlorine or petroleum, both of which end up in the eco-system when you use them! 

4. Use a bike or walk when going on short errands

Photo Courtesy of

5. Change lightbulbs in your house to CFL bulbs

CFL bulbs last ten times longer than regular bulbs and use only 1/4 of the energy and produce 90% less heat.

6. Donate old clothes from your closet

Photo Courtesy of

7. Avoid exfoliating scrubs with microbeads in them

Exfoliating micro beads are plastic pellets that end up in the water in our ecosystem and can harm animals

Those are just some of the many things you can do this Friday April 22 for Earth Day! Happy Conserving! 

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How to Compost in an Apartment or House

Image from

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 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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How To Make Valentine’s Day Cards From Recycled Paper!

Valentine's Day, Cards, Paper, Recyle

We are an eco-friendly business and are always thinking of ways to reduce, reuse, and recycle everything around us. With Valentine's Day coming up, we wanted to offer directions for how to make your own homemade paper from paper scraps lying around! This is a good way to recycle and reuse, and is also going to make your cards unique from all other cards! 

How To Make Paper

Tear scrap paper into small pieces.

Each piece should measure no larger than roughly 1 inch (2.54 cm).

Make a frame.

This step can be done while your paper scraps are soaking.

  • Cut a hole in the bottom of a disposable brownie pan. An aluminum pan is best, as it can be cut using sharp scissors. The hole should be rectangular and 1 inch (2.54 cm) smaller on all sides than the bottom of the pan.
Paper making, recycling, valentine's day
  • Place a piece of screen or wire mesh in the pan. To keep it from falling through the hole, simply cut it the size of the pan bottom.
Make a slurry of paper pulp.
  • Fill a blender with warm water, halfway. Add some of the shredded and soaked paper--about a handful. At medium speed, blend the water and paper until it takes on a soupy consistency.
  • Pour the slurry into a large tub. Fill the tub with warm water. Mix the tub contents until they are evenly incorporated. At this point you can add food coloring if you want to make colored paper!
  • Holding the pan level, shake all the extra water out. Use your hands to press the pulp against the screen to get more water out. 
  • Place the frame on a clean, dry towel and press paper out onto towel.
  • Place another towel on top of paper, and roll over with a rolling pin to get extra water out.
  • Peel paper off towel and set somewhere to dry overnight.

Voila!  You have your own homemade paper for Valentine's Day cards! Cut into whatever shape you want and send to your friends and family!

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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!


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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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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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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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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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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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, 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!

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!