Bent wood rings address this problem. Made from very thin layers of wood wrapped with the grain running all the way around the ring (instead of across or through), these rings can stand up to quite a bit of pressure without cracking or breaking.
I gave Josh wood this past father's day. Woodcraft sold various turning blanks of exotic hardwoods, and we had a lot of fun turning rings on his tiny micro lathe. I still prefer the look of wood rings made from a solid piece of wood with the grain running through the ring. Some exotic woods hold up quite well, but some do not. We began looking into ways to make our rings more durable and read about bent wood rings.
There wasn't a whole lot of information out there as to how exactly to make the rings. After a fair amount of experimentation, I've come up with a method that works for us. We don't make wood rings any more (our passion for making them lasted about a month before our attention spans expired and we moved on to the next interest), but I wanted to share the method with others.
I also sometimes put a bent wood interior inside a solid wood ring to make it stronger. It would be impossible to use some woods for rings (like figured satinwood) without some type of serious strengthening. I haven't included directions for that in this instructable, but they're not too hard to figure out once you know the basics.
I'll also show you how to add a crushed stone inlay.
Some people are now choosing bent wood rings for wedding or engagement rings. They can be pricey from some retailers. They might take a little bit of practice if you want perfect rings, but the technique is simple and the materials are cheap.