The Story Behind the Ring: Lavender, Rose and Pink Ivory
October 08 2020 – Mike Yarbrough
We have been asked many times if we make rings for women. While any of our rings can be worn by women and made in a smaller width to look more sleek, some of the ladies on our own team began to lament our lack of feminine designs. We really started to wonder: what could we do differently? We launched our series of women’s rings because we wanted to give women the chance to commemorate a special occasion in their life.
The idea of using flower petals in our rings came about fairly quickly, but figuring out just how to do that was a little more challenging. The results have been some of our most beautiful rings to date. The materials we chose for our women's rings have unique stories, some coming from ancient myths and legends, others from folk tales and songs. Of course, the most powerful stories are those known only by those who wear our rings.
Is there any more enduring symbol of love than the rose? The flower has been shorthand for love and passion since time immemorial. The ancient Greeks and Romans associated roses with Aphrodite and Venus, the goddesses of love. The precise meaning may vary depending on the color—purple roses are said to represent enchantment and love at first sight—but there can be little confusion about what handing a loved one a rose means.
Roses have made their way into myth and folklore as well, serving as the inspiration for Old World folk songs and Appalachian ballads alike. One of the oldest, known as "My Love is Like a Red, Red Rose," dates back to at least the 1700s:
My love is like a red, red rose
That's newly sprung in June
My love is like the melody
That's sweetly played in tune
Roses continue to be a symbol of love and a source of inspiration in modern times. President Ronald Reagan, in a ceremony at the White House Rose Garden, signed a proclamation certifying the rose as the national flower in 1986. Of course, for many people, the significance of this flower is much more personal. Surprisingly, there are lots of men and women who ask for our rose petal rings, but not for wedding bands as you might expect.
A woman once came to us and asked us to make a rose petal ring in tribute to her late husband. She had grown roses in their garden and he picked one for her every day. She wanted a ring made with roses to remember him by after he had passed away. It's stories like these that give meaning to the small tokens we create.
The symbolism of lavender may not be as deeply entrenched in our collective memory as that of the rose, but this flower is no less meaningful. Lavender has been known to symbolize purity, grace, devotion and serenity. It is associated with remembrance, and often used as a balm to soothe stress and anxiety. Its color—a rich, vibrant purple—has for centuries been associated with royalty and elegance.
References to Lavender abound in ancient history. Texts from Ancient Egypt suggest that it was prized for its calming aroma, leading it to be widely used in embalming and cosmetics. Lavender is even mentioned in the Bible a few times, albeit under the name spikenard, which was the Ancient Greek word for lavender:
Then took Mary a pound of ointment of spikenard, very costly, and anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped his feet with her hair; and the house was filled with the odour of the ointment.” (Gospel of John, 12:3)
We use multiple kinds of lavender flowers in our rings, each with its own unique appearance. Provence lavender, also known as French Lavender, creates a delicate, flecked pattern of purple, gold and green when preserved within the ring. Another kind, known as sea lavender, produces a bolder, more vivid purple color. We also have a mixture of both for those who can’t choose which they like best!
Other Ring Materials
We always want our rings to tell a story. That often means pairing unique materials that have meaning on their own, but gain even more significance when combined. We choose the woods we use in our flower petal rings with great care, both for the beautiful way they look as well as the meanings they hold.
We’d like to clarify one of the most common questions we get about pink ivory wood: yes, it is in fact wood. No animals were harmed in the making of these rings! Pink ivory is a type of tree that grows in certain parts of Africa, and its wood has a natural pink glow that looks simply stunning. It was once the royal tree of the Zulu people, and is still associated with royalty.
Featured as a liner in our rose ring it pairs beautifully with rose petals and gold, and carries the warm hue of the rose through the entire ring design Together with our naturally shed Colorado elk antler inlay, it stands out as the star of the ring. Pink ivory wood is protected and sustainably maintained in South Africa, and we've been fortunate to be able to use limited quantities of it to carve and craft our designs.
With its rich, almost chocolaty maroon color, Rosewood has long been one of the most sought-after hardwoods in the world. It is treasured for its spectacular beauty as well as its resonance. The latter quality has made it particularly prized for making musical instruments. The former makes it a fine complement to the rose petals and gold flakes of our rose rings.
Sadly, rosewood has become seriously endangered in many parts of the world due to over-harvesting. This is why we utilize Indian rosewood instead of the more endangered Brazilian rosewood, and go to great lengths to make sure the wood we use in our rings is ethically sourced.
Walnut’s rich-brown hue not only looks stunning on our women's lavender ring, but also creates a nice contrast to the delicate turquoise inlay. Another design features a soft-hued holly liner which complements the warm brown wood. A thin gold inlay brings a touch of class to the design.
The old-growth walnut forests that our ancestors likely saw when they first arrived in the New World are, sadly, mostly a thing of the past today. But we were able to use some local walnut wood with real historic character. The walnut wood we used was hand-picked from Hill Top Barn Wood Shop in Asheville, North Carolina. It came from an old tobacco barn, and is at least 100 years old, based solely on the date the barn was built. Considering the probable age of the tree when it was cut down, the wood itself is at least another 100 years older than that.
We may not always be able to sit under the shade of the same trees that our ancestors did, but our stories are still connected. Whether you wear roses to remember a loved one who has passed, or walnut wood to connect you to the history of the land you live on, every element in these rings has a story to tell—just like you do. These rings are not just used as wedding bands. With our custom ring design options, women now have the opportunity to use their own materials or flower petals -- whether it’s from their wedding bouquet, or rose petals from their first high-school dance -- to commemorate that special event, person or their heritage in a way no one else can.