July 02 2019 – Mike Yarbrough
What makes the Rustic & Main brand a classic style? In short, our handcrafted rings are made of timeless materials and designs. While wooden bands are not what comes to mind when we think of classic jewelry, our specialty woods, inlays, and designs are inherently classic. The materials used in the past generate old-time utility and symbolic associations for those who wear them. The designs themselves often reflect significant parts of American history, culture, and rugged symbolism, which includes military rifle stock, battleship decking, antique walnut, and weathered whiskey barrel.
Stories that Endure
The enduring stories behind the materials we use are at the heart of our rings; precious metals, unique woods, elk antler, tartans, coffee, and stones.
Let’s consider some basic descriptions of jewelry trends and "classics" in order help categorize our bands: According to Mark Schneider Design,
“[unlike fads, which are very short lived], trends can be … difficult to track. But the best rule of thumb when considering whether a piece is a classic or a trend, is to ask yourself: “Will I still love this in five years?” If the answer is a resounding “Yes,” then chances are that the piece is either a classic or an updated classic, both of which will age beautifully. Classic pieces are hard to ignore and almost impossible to miss. There is an undeniable air of timelessness that surrounds classic pieces.”
In order explore designs associated with American patriotism, let's look at some personal and historical illustrations: first and foremost, Mike Yarbrough, the founder of Rustic & Main, served in the U.S. Navy. Therefore, inspiration for some of our designs are related to his personal experience. For others, early settlers for example, patriotism arose from direct experience with widespread hardships, and the dream of establishing a country different from the ones that they, or their ancestors, left. Multitudes of poor people paid their way here by becoming indentured servants, and some groups were forced to immigrate (e.g., Africans, British convicts, and Scottish highlanders). And today, many Americans have a rich heritage of immigrants and/or soldiers in their family trees. Whatever the case, the rough idea of America (liberty and justice) is a driving force for patriotism. The more I read, the deeper my understanding becomes for why so many immigrated and eventually fought to establish and maintain the United states.
Therefore, we are extremely appreciative of those who seek to protect liberty and justice for the rest of us, because it is no small sacrifice. All of us play a part in maintaining and developing such things in our country, however, without those who are willing to physically protect, the rest of us might not have opportunities to fully integrate early American principles into our society.
True Classics Always Have a Deeper Meaning
One of my favorite woods to work with in our rings is the original teak wood from the deck of the USS North Carolina. That is pretty awesome! Not only is it the most decorated battleship of WW2, it’s also named for my home state. Like so many other Americans, I have ancestors who fought and died in WW2. I remember working with teak for the first time when this thought struck me: soldiers experienced life at war on this ship decking, and I am making a ring with it! How many people had served aboard the ship? What about their sacrifices back home? Time away from family, friends, and familiar places; the very real possibility of living with PTSD, physical injury, or even death if it calls. What were the experiences of family members when loved ones are serving, killed, injured, or mentally harmed? In other words, it’s not just soldiers mechanically operating through war, it’s also what they and their families carry in their hearts and minds that stirs my soul. It’s humbling to consider such a noble and dangerous life experience, simply from working with a tangible piece of it.
I believe our customers who wear these rings experience a bit of the same.
Our flagship ring: Teak from the USS North Carolina Battleship with a Whiskey Barrel Lining and Offset Copper Inlay
Additionally, firearms are an essential part of ensuring basic safety, freedom and independence.
“During WWI, millions of men were given rifles and sent into the trenches to fight. They were the weapons that turned civilians into soldiers. Sitting in trenches for months at a time, enduring the terrible weather, then fighting in rushed advances and brutal close combat” - War History Online
Further, without the firearms utilized by our early militias and established Armed Forces, there would be no America as we know it.
In order to commemorate our valiant place in history during global wars, we utilize WW1/WW2 era rifle stocks (Springfield 1903 & M1 Garand), the primary weapons used by combat troops.
A custom ring using Springfield 1903 Rifle Stock and Khaki uniform
A Personal Connection
I vividly recall making a custom WW1 style ring for a Marine. The ring was to be crafted with a piece of fabric from his dress uniform and M1 rifle stock. I remember reading his fiancées order notes, and feeling such a sense of honor for having the opportunity to craft the ring. This was the first time I asked if I could send a personal note with the ring, just to say, “thanks for your service.” I’m always honored to make our military style rings because of what is being preserved and who is being recognized.
As a ring craftsman and history buff, I see the Rustic & Main brand as a classic style, but also as a means of keeping history close. This is especially important in a world which seems to be moving forward (and often away from traditional values) so quickly. It’s the personal, cultural, and historical materials used, as well as the fact that the rings are hand made by people who are patriotic and appreciative of history. In addition, each customer has connected with a design or story. In essence, both crafters and customers share an appreciation of materials that are timeless and culturally rich.
This article was written by Rustic and Main Ring Craftsman, David Lemmond. David is former counselor turned expert ring maker. He has a love for history, particularly genealogy, and philosophy, and makes some of the best BBQ sauce on the planet.