In the jewelry-making business, there are so many materials to choose from. Gold, silver, and stainless steel are amongst the most common thanks to their looks and durability, but wood is increasingly finding popularity, with koa wood as a fan favorite. We also thoroughly appreciate the material here at Urban Designer and incorporate it in many of our wooden rings’ designs for its unique aesthetic, distinct texture, and ease of use. Want to learn more about this incredible material? Keep reading to find out some of what makes koa wood so special.
The Biology of the Wood
Koa, also known as Acacia koa, is a type of large tree native to the Hawaiian Islands typically recognized for its thin, gangly branches, seedpods, pale-yellow flowers, and beautiful wood grain. Height can range significantly, but koa trees average upwards of 50 to 80 feet tall, with 98-foot trees not being unheard of in the presence of deep volcanic ash. Not only does this height distinguish it, but the speed of its growth does as well. Koa is one of the fastest-growing Hawaiian trees out there, growing up to 30 feet every five years with the right conditions. This speedy growth cycle and height made the trees seem ideal for frequent felling and use in various products. But sustainability problems eventually threw a wrench in this, spurring the protections and creative use of today.
The Sustainability Aspect
How exactly did koa wood’s sustainability issues start? Well, the threat came in the 1800s as ranchers began to take over expansive tracts of land for cattle. The Big Island and neighboring areas were soon completely overtaken, displacing the once plentiful koa forests. In fact, present-day North of Hilo lost almost the entirety of its forests to ranching as animals would snack on young seedlings before they ever had a chance to grow and mature. Luckily, though, the trees bounced back due to nature's resiliency, State-sanctioned protections, and private interests. Today, these protections are still firmly in place, and the harvesting of koa is strictly monitored by the State and plantation owners alike. All koa wood from the Big Island is now harvested from dead and fallen trees, making it a sustainable material.
History of Koa Wood
Despite the interesting trials and tribulations of the 1800s, koa trees have a rich history long before this. Native to Hawaii, they have a long revered and sacred heritage. One of the earlier uses for the wood was actually as material for weapons to help warriors in combat, fitting for the tree that directly translates to “warrior” tree. Koa was also used to build their canoes and went a long way to helping King Kamehameha the Great unite the Hawaiian Island chain before finding purchase with non-royalty following the King’s death. The wood then went on to make practically everything in Hawaiian life, including bowls, carving tools, surfboards, instruments, jewelry, and more.
Why It’s So Special
Beyond just the rich background and sustainability factor, koa is a remarkable wood, one easily among the most stunning and special still around today. Once used because it was plentiful, it is now widely sought after for its color and distinct texture. Unlike other woods, koa wood is not bound to one tone and comes in an array of colors, ranging everywhere from golden brown to red to yellow and even to pink. All are gorgeous, especially alongside the wood’s strange interlocking grain that makes it both unique and strong but bendable. Together, these factors (plus koa’s hypoallergenic nature) make it an exceptional material for all sorts of rings, watches, and other accessories.
Urban Designer Koa Wooden Rings
With all of the excellent characteristics of koa wood, we’re proud to use this fantastic, sustainable material that honors Hawaii's natural heritage and strive to share it with the rest of the world. That’s why so many of our wooden rings include a koa wood inlay. Want one for yourself? Here are a couple we think you’re going to love.
Tungsten Two Koa Wood Inlay
One of our most popular pieces, this double inlay ring features high-polished tungsten carbide and two rows of koa wood for a look that’s modern, sexy, and sleek. The warm wood tones and shine look amazing on anyone and are sure to be your perfect fit.
Black Tungsten and Koa Arrow Ring
Looking for something with even more visual interest? Try our black tungsten and koa wood arrow ring on for size. The black and koa wood make for a classic aesthetic, but the feathered silver arrow make it effortlessly cool. Even better, this ring doesn’t sacrifice comfort for looks as the comfort fit band is slightly domed for easy wear without pressure points.
Koa Inlay and Abalone Shell
Our Koa wood ring with abalone shell inlay should hit the mark for those who want an even more natural look to their ring. Representing both land and sea, it is a gorgeous homage to the world around us and looks great while doing it. Practically, it’s also scratch-resistant and waterproof for a ring that can take anything you throw at it.