Memories on Hand: The Beauty of Class Rings

The first recorded instance of class rings for a graduating class occurred at West Point in 1835. The tradition has spread, and now in the United States class rings are a common purchase by students, often seen as an intregal part of tradition as the caps and gowns on graduation day. Class rings are a great way of not only having a living momento to your high school or college years, but also as a way to tie you to your fellow classmates, to increase that sense of comradery and belonging to something greater.

Class rings were generally a single design, made by the high school or college, and the only design change would be the graduation year. Today's class rings are usually customized by each student in some way. Because of this, there no longer really is a "typical" class ring, though popular generalities still exist. Men's rings are generally larger than women's. The most popular color is gold, though that differs depending on the school and company providing the rings. Students have the option of ordering rings made of white gold, silver, or any other precious metal. The center stone is traditionally one of the school's colors, but there are no guidelines for the size or cut of the stone. The center stone can easily be customized to reflect the student's personality.

Josten's is the most popular maker of class rings, though Balfour, Herff-Jones, and ArtCarved are three other major companies that also sell class rings.

The school's name usually appears on one side, the year of graduation is necessary on the other. This is, after all, the distinguishing mark that shows exactly where you belonged in the rich history of the institution you attended. The school's logo, motto, or insignia is also a common choice for design. Many students have their name, initials, or nickname engraved on the underside of the ring, just under the stone, to further personalize the ring.

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