We think it's so special when we find artisans who use their hands to create beautiful and unique items. Add the fact that they are creating sustainable fashions that are eco-friendly and of course we have to share with you! We chatted with Elizabeth & Allen of Northwood Bentwood Rings to share a little bit more about their rings, their process and how they are different.
Tell us about your company and how you got started?
Northwood Bentwood Rings makes wooden rings from the bentwood technique. We are focused on using only eco-friendly and sustainable sources for our products, from the wood itself to the precious metals, and stone inlays that we use. Most recently we have branched out to include a mix of reclaimed gold or silver bands along with a wooden outer wrap.
We began in 2012, when my husband Allan presented me with my first wooden ring. We had been married 3 years and I hadn’t been able to wear a wedding band due to an allergy to gold. Having grown up on a farm called ‘Lot of Oaks’ the oak tree had always held a very special meaning for me. It was from Oak that my first ring was created, and I was in love with the uniqueness of my ring immediately. Allan, being the craftsman he is, didn’t stop there. He was in pursuit of the best wooden ring he could make, so I soon found myself with a whole lot of wooden wedding rings to choose from!
At the time we had been running a weekend coffee cart with freshly roasted coffee, another of our passions. Customers began coming for the rings as much as they did for the coffee and we saw a way to fill a need. We had heard so many stories of people not being able, or not wanting, to wear traditional jewelry, and we decided to close up the coffee cart and begin our adventure in serving this new crowd of people looking for something different.
What makes your company unique?
While wooden rings and the process of bentwood are unique in themselves, I think the most unique thing about our company is not what we do, but why we do it. We want to create a difference in our customers’ lives, our employees’ lives, and in our own. We have always strived to create not just the most beautiful rings, but also a community of artists and people with the same values. We believe that we can work together to create something different: A new way of living sustainably and showing our love for each other, and the environment, in a natural way.
That the jewelry trade that has been built on the backs of slave laborers and atrocious practices is becoming more and more well known, and I believe that it is up to us to stop the demand for these products. We believe there is a better way, and we know there are many others like us who believe in a future where these practices are stopped and where we know about how our products have come to be. We believe in transparency and in protecting the beautiful world, and its people, with safe, friendly practices.
We’re doing our best by creating the most beautiful product we can with friendly materials, and by providing a more unique and one-of-a-kind alternative that lovers and friends can use to express their feelings for their loved ones.
Who has inspired you in your life and why?
Allan and I have both had a lot of people throughout our lives that have inspired us, not least of which have been our customers and our employees, but to give a more straightforward answer:
For Allan, it has been the master craftsmen of the past. People like the metalsmiths who would spend days creating a simple weathervane that would be used on top of a barn roof, making sure every detail was perfect, and every curve was just as it should be even though it wouldn’t be viewed except from below. Their pride in their work was unwavering and always drove them to be at their best.
For myself, it was my grandfather. The man who built and cared for the farm that inspired our beginning. Before I was in school with my siblings I would spend the day with my grandfather while my mother went off to work. He was an inventor with a large workshop full of tools and I spent my days with him in that world of tools and tinkering. He would hand me my own blocks of wood, some nails and a hammer, and as a child I’d put together whatever came to me and let my imagination run wild. When we were done, we’d often walk through the acres of oak trees collecting acorns and leaves, and it was with him that I discovered my love for crafting and nature.
Where do you see your company heading in the future?
Right now we’re focused on bringing together and marrying the beauty of precious metals and wood in an equally sustainable way. We hear from a lot of our customers that while one partner would love a wooden band, the other leans more towards traditional jewelry and we believe we can make a bigger change by incorporating a sustainable alternative that would speak to them both. We understand that gold and silver jewelry has been a large part of the tradition of marriage in recent times, and we feel that we can work to source reclaimed materials to make this possible.
We are also working to bring together artists as employees, people with their own unique ideas and creative spirits who can help to bring our customers visions to life in their own way.