1977 first catalog

History of Rings & Things

  • Vending at State & County Fairs

    Vending at State & County Fairs
    Rings & Things founder and co-owner Russ Nobbs begins to sell handcrafted gold-wire name pins at county and state fairs around the Pacific Northwest. He soon adds more styles of handcrafted and hand-engraved jewelry. His family and friends sometimes accompany him to fairs in Great Falls, MT; Billings, MT; Boise, ID; Spokane, WA; and elsewhere.
  • Christmas Concessions

    Christmas Concessions
    Russ runs a jewelry concession for the 1966 Christmas season on the 1st floor of the Bon Marche department store in downtown Spokane. He sells name pins and some engraveable gifts.
    Twenty-five years later, Rings & Things moves its wholesale operation into the 9th floor of the same building!
  • First Retail Store Opens!

    First Retail Store Opens!
    Russ opens the first Rings & Things retail store in Second City, a downtown "mall" run by artisans and restauranteurs. At this point in time, Rings & Things sells finished jewelry only, no parts. (Second City sits where what is now the Wells Fargo building resides).
  • 1974 World Expo

    1974 World Expo
    In 1973, R&T begins manufacturing 1000's of pairs of earrings to sell to drug stores, boutiques and gift shops in Washington, Idaho, and Montana. The timing is perfect, since the 1974 World Expo is held in Spokane, WA. Already prepared, Rings & Things supplies several Expo shops with beaded and filigree earrings for resale.
  • The Bead Room Opens

    The Bead Room Opens
    Russ opens a second store across the hall from Rings & Things, also in Second City. The Bead Room sells beads and findings for DIY crafters while Rings & Things continues to sell finished jewelry.
  • Selling Native American Jewelry

    Selling Native American Jewelry
    Throughout the 1970's, Russ periodically travels through New Mexico and Arizona, purchasing handcrafted Native American sterling silver jewelry that he resells at fairs and to NW gift shops.
  • The Jeweler's Bench Opens

    The Jeweler's Bench Opens
    Russ opens a third retail store, The Jeweler’s Bench, also in Second City. The Jeweler's Bench focuses on sterling silver and 14kt jewelry, plus hand-blown glass and other fine artisan crafts.
  • Shipping Clerk to General Manager

    Shipping Clerk to General Manager
    The same year The Jeweler's Bench opens, Russ hires a part time shipping clerk to send beads, findings, and earrings to wholesale customers. The clerk also sends goods to Russ when Russ travels out of state to sell wares. This shipping clerk keeps finding more fairs and stores for Russ to sell to, working himself into a fulltime job – he is none other than Mr. Kim Crosby, Rings & Things general manager and road show manager to this day!
  • Marriage in Montana

    Marriage in Montana
    Russ and R&T co-owner Dee tie the knot in Missoula, Montana. When showing her jewelry at regional fairs, Dee often gets questions from other artisans about where she buys her parts. While Dee runs her booth, Russ walks the fairs discussing with craftspeople what types of components they want and need. Their collaboration inspires the first Rings & Things mail-order catalog!
  • The First R&T Catalog!

    The First R&T Catalog!
    Rings & Things publishes its first mail order catalog! Even though the mall store still focuses on finished jewelry, a small wholesale mail-order division starts at the back of the shop to sell jewelry components (beads and findings) to professional crafts people. This first catalog consists of 19 pages of black and white line drawings of stock.
  • The First Big Move

    The First Big Move
    All three retail stores are forced to move when the entire Second City artisan mall is sold and slated to be torn down. The Bead Room gets folded into Rings & Things. Both Rings & Things and the Jeweler’s Bench move into River Park Square mall, also in downtown Spokane.
  • A Sparkling Christmas Season

    A Sparkling Christmas Season
    In addition to filigree and beaded earrings, we also manufacture thousands of Swarovski crystal post earrings and Swarovski 8000-series crystal mobiles. They are just a few of the products we feature during the 1980 Christmas shopping season!
  • Another Move - To Bigger Space!

    Another Move - To Bigger Space!
    The move to River Park Square is a good one and by 1982 larger retail spaces are needed! Rings & Things moves into a larger, more visible spot in the mall and the Jeweler’s Bench expands as well. Co-owner Dee builds many of the wooden display cases for that location (some of which are still in use in our current Showroom!).
  • BBB Accreditation

    BBB Accreditation
    Rings & Things is accredited by the Better Business Bureau. We have remained accredited ever since and are proud to maintain an A+ rating!
  • First Trade Show!

    First Trade Show!
    Rings & Things participates in its first trade show, the Beckman’s Craft Supplier Show at the Disneyland Hotel in Anaheim, CA. Russ drives stock down in his green van (still going in 2012!). General Manager Kim goes to Disneyland by himself when Russ refuses to go with him. Russ says hotel security is straight out of "Men in Black." Over the next 12 years, we do about 70 "order only" trade shows, using sample boards to show our wares.
  • Mail Order Moves

    Mail Order Moves
    Through the 1980s, the mail order division of Rings & Things does well and expands! In 1991, it moves out of the mall store and into the 9th floor of the Bon Marche building. A previous tenant of this space is the Selective Service Induction that processed soldiers from WWII through the Vietnam War. R&T is proud to convert the space to more peaceful, artistic purposes. Russ, pictured in a 9th floor window, smudges the area with sage before we move in.
  • A Year of Highs and Lows

    A Year of Highs and Lows
    1992 is a year of highs and lows. Rings & Things celebrates its 20th Anniversary, and The Jeweler's Bench closes. After 14 years of selling fine artisan crafts in downtown Spokane, the Jeweler's Bench has never been a money maker like Rings & Things, and the recession makes it necessary to make cuts somewhere. Luckily, Jeweler's Bench employees are able to pick up shifts at Rings & Things instead of losing their jobs.
  • First Tucson GLW Show!

    First Tucson GLW Show!
    Rings & Things participates in Tucson's February extravaganza for the first time (and we've participated every year since)! Prior to 1994, Russ and Dee make several annual Tucson treks to walk, learn and buy. Our first few years participating in the Gem and Lapidary Wholesalers (GLW) show, we bring our stock in the green van pulling a trailer. That same van and trailer is what Russ and Dee use to show at state fairs up until 2001.
  • Team Players!

    Team Players!
    Rings & Things has long been active in the local Spokane community - and not just in terms of <a href="http://www.rings-things.com/about-us/green_rnt.html" target="_blank">recycling & environmental efforts</a>. Pictured here is Rings & Things' 1994 championship volleyball team. Five 1994 team members still work at Rings & Things in 2012!
  • First Overseas Trip

    First Overseas Trip
    Co-owners Russ and Dee are able to inspect manufacturers of some international goods they sell when they make their first buying trip to China and Taiwan. They return to China in 1996, 2002, 2003, and 2006. Pictured is Russ photographing rough gemstone material at a stone cutter's facility in southern China.
  • Print Ad Trends

    Print Ad Trends
    In 1995, the industry still has a standard of black and white print advertisements for companies on a tight budget. Take for example this R&T ad in the March 1995 issue of "Craft Supply Magazine." Things can sure change in 15 years! See the BIGkick timeline entry for an example of how our print ads look in 2012.
  • Canadian Trade Shows

    Canadian Trade Shows
    In 1995, we do our first Canadian trade show at the Canadian Craft and Hobby Association show in Calgary. We only do four Canadian shows total, as sales never do well and customs is a big hassle.
  • R&T Exclusive Bead Shows

    R&T Exclusive Bead Shows
    An idea is sparked as we show our wares at the AGSA Glass Supplier Show in Seattle: let's try a one-night, exclusive R&T show at a nearby hotel as long as we're in town. The experiment goes well, and exclusive <a href="http://www.rings-things.com/show" target="_blank">R&T Bead Shows</a> are born! Originally the shows are done with Russ’s green van (occasionally, pulling a trailer). In 1996 we do four shows, all in the Pacific Northwest.
  • Semi-Official Coloring Contest

    Semi-Official Coloring Contest
    Crayola introduces "Gem Tones" crayons and we can't resist having a bit of fun with them. Our 1996 catalog includes a page that can be colored and sent in. Contest rules include such set-in-stone policies as "There will probably be prizes, but we don't know what" and "if we find any judges, their decisions might be final." Several customers send in lovely renditions - hey, you gals & guys can really stay in the lines (when you want to)!
  • First Website Launch!

    First Website Launch!
    We launch our first website as an extension of our mail-order catalog. In 1996, our site consists of about 10 hand-coded pages.
  • Jewels Express Launch

    Jewels Express Launch
    Because the Rings & Things website at this time focuses on wholesale customers, we start an online retail subsidiary called Jewels Express. Products we sell through Jewels Express include jewelry kits as well as individual parts.
  • From Mall Store to Showroom

    From Mall Store to Showroom
    Rings & Things retail store in River Park Square closes for good. We are now officially an online company – but we still maintain a Showroom for local and regional professionals to buy supplies in person. The Showroom (pictured) is on the 9th floor of the downtown Bon Marche building.
  • Bead Shows Expand

    Bead Shows Expand
    With resources no longer needed for the mall store, we invest in an Isuzu truck that facilitates larger loads and longer trips. This allows us to take our exclusive traveling <a href="http://www.rings-things.com/show" target="_blank">Bead Shows</a> beyond the Pacific Northwest for the first time! Dee & Russ make a test run to Seattle to pick up a shipment, and ... suddenly we're a "motor carrier" and need DOT registration and log books.
  • International Buying Trips

    International Buying Trips
    From 2002 through 2006, co-owners Russ and Dee manage a few buying trips to China, Bali, Thailand, and India where they visit suppliers of gemstone rough, gem cutters, pearl farms, cottage industry silversmiths, and other vendors and manufacturers. Pictured here is one of many gold markets in Chiang Mai, Thailand, where it's not even considered gold if it's less than 22kt!
  • Jewels Express Closes

    Jewels Express Closes
    Jewels Express closes, but the main Rings & Things website (pictured) continues to improve and our product line continues to expand. One lesson learned: be cautious of using web urls that sound like something they're not (for example, jewelSEXpress).
  • Time to Buy Property!

    Time to Buy Property!
    With online business booming, and conditions getting more and more cramped on the 9th floor of a downtown department store, Russ and Dee form Rutabega Properties and buy Rings & Things its own warehouse. Near downtown Spokane, the facility was formerly a florist's warehouse. Renovations begin, including a lot of hands-ons work from Russ & Dee (pictured). One of the final touches is that Dee tiles all the warehouse restrooms by hand!
  • Going Full Color

    Going Full Color
    After 28 years of creating catalogs in all or mostly black and white, we print our first full-color catalog. Its 313 pages include photographs of finished example jewelry as well as thousands of product photos that replace the line art of an earlier era.
  • Our New Home

    Our New Home
    After almost a year of building renovations, we move into our new home at 304 E 2nd Ave.
  • Dragon Boat Races

    Dragon Boat Races
    It's been a while since the Rings & Things volleyball team won a local championship (1994), but the athletes of Rings & Things are up for another challenge - dragon boat races on the Spokane River. Even though we finish 21st out of 24 places, our efforts help raise money for the Spokane Parks Foundation, a non-profit organization that helps local public parks thrive beyond what they can accomplish with tax dollars.
  • 500th Bead Show!

    500th Bead Show!
    We complete our 500th exclusive Rings & Things <a href="http://www.rings-things.com/show" target="_blank">Bead Show</a>. This same year, we buy our second truck to keep the road shows going and growing. Our exclusive R&T traveling shows start in 1996 with four shows in the Pacific Northwest. As of 2012, we do over 70 exclusive shows a year, nationwide.
  • Going Bohemian

    Going Bohemian
    Russ and Dee take a buying trip to the Czech Republic, where Bohemian glass has been manufactured for centuries. They bring back <a href="https://shop.rings-things.com/cart/pc/Czech-Rhinestone-Ball-Beads-c3637.htm" target="_blank">Czech rhinestone balls</a> that become part of our permanent stock, plus Czech glass buttons (pictured) that become available exclusively at our 2010 Spokane Events.
  • Perennial Appeal

    Perennial Appeal
    Some jewelry components come and go, but others have perennial appeal! Our 2011-2012 catalog (with 460 full-color pages) contains some of the exact same filigree styles we sold in our 1977 black-and-white 19-page catalog.
  • Getting a BIGkick out of Color Ads

    Getting a BIGkick out of Color Ads
    The new century brings with it new demands. Black-and-white print ads are out and color is in, even for small companies like Rings & Things. Pictured is one of our 2012 ads, showing what you can do with the BIGkick DIY embossing machine & accessories.
  • WSRA Hall of Fame

    WSRA Hall of Fame
    The Washington State Recycling Association (WSRA) inducts Russ into their Recycling Hall of Fame! The award comes as the result of over 20 years of tireless and vigilant volunteer work Russ has accomplished, spearheading recycling programs at public events in and around Spokane, WA. Learn more here and here.
  • A Ruby Anniversary

    A Ruby Anniversary
    Rings & Things is proud to celebrate 40 year of business. We extend a big thank you to our customers old and new! Each August we celebrate our anniversary with a warehouse-wide Anniversary Event. Join us next August in Spokane.
  • 1997 Relic Found

    1997 Relic Found
    Just a few weeks after our 40th Anniversary bash, longtime employee Tricia (pictured) notices that one of the wooden boards being used as a stock shelf is actually an old team-building relic with hand prints and autographs of several 1997 employees. We replace the shelf and now have the board hanging up in the warehouse.
  • 1st Annual River Hero Award

    1st Annual River Hero Award
    Rings & Things co-owner Russ is awarded the First Annual "Mike Chappell Spokane River Hero Award" for his work with the annual Spokane River Clean-Up. In 2012, Russ and the rest of the Clean-Up volunteers pulled over 4 tons of trash and recyclables from the banks and bed of the Spokane River.
  • New Year, New Social Media Buzz ...

    New Year, New Social Media Buzz ...
    As 2013 begins, we strive to improve our social media presense in this quickly-evolving technological age. Don't miss our Pinterest Boards, Blog, and Facebook page for great jewelry tips & ideas.