Class Rings

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Rings represent the accomplishments, friends made and good times had throughout high school, college or university. That’s why they make perfect graduation gift.

There are sooooo many choices to make when designing rings. I hope to give you a no nonsense guide to selecting the right ring. The graduate will cherish this gift for the rest of their life. 

Some school, colleges or universities design their own rings in which case it’s just a case of changing the year. Some friends like to get together and design a ring specifically for the class. However more and more students are designing their own rings. 

I think rings should only be chosen as a gift if you really know the graduate well. It may even be best to ask the graduate to help with designing it as it could be an expensive surprise present if you get it wrong. 

If however you want to proceed with designing a ring as a surprise gift then hopefully you’ll find some tips as you read on. Obviously if it’s a boys ring, a chunky one with lots of personalization would be fine but I think something simple and elegant with most of the engraving done inside the band is the best option. An elegant design like this will have more chance of still appealing to the graduate in years to come. 

This is a no frills explanation of what choices there are out there for class rings and some guidance on how to choose the very best personalization methods for your class ring:

  • Choice of Metal

  • Choice of Stone

  • Engraving Options

  • How to Measure the Correct Size of Class Ring

  • Taking Care of the Ring

Choice of Class Rings Metal

The metal chosen for class rings really comes down to cost and personal preference. If you are buying a ring for someone else, have a look at their existing jewellery to see if they tend to wear gold or silver because it would be nicer to get a ring to compliment their other jewellery. If you are not sure though, a ring with both silver and gold would be a safe bet. 

The choice of metals tends to be the following:

  • Platinum – at the top end of the scale in terms of cost

  • White gold

  • Yellow gold

  • Silver

  • Metal Alloy - with the look of either white or yellow gold it will suit smaller budgets

  • A mixture of both silver and gold.

If you are not to sure about "Karats" and what they actually mean then here is a rough guide:

  • 10K Gold – the lower the number of Karats the more affordable. This is 10/24th pure gold and is bright gold in appearance. The parts that are note pure gold are comprised of other fine metals

  • 14K Gold – more pure than the previous one at 14/24ths and is still bright gold in appearance

  • 18K Gold - this is 18/24ths (75%) pure gold and looks gold but with a hint of pink

  • 24K Gold – is 100% pure gold.

You will also have a choice of finish for the metal:

  • Antique – this is actually the most popular option would you believe. The effect is to help highlight the details of the ring. The yellow gold has a kind of brownish finish while the silver has a black/grey antique finish

  • Natural – lovely and new looking bright and shiny gold or silver.

In addition you will sometimes get to choose the palmside finish to the ring. This can either be a smooth finish or a textured finish. Again personally (I really should stop doing this) I prefer the smooth finish but if for example the graduate is a male who likes doing a lot of manual work then the textured finish does prevent scratches from showing over time while also adding another element of uniqueness. If the class rings are a gift though I’d stick on the safe side and choose smooth. 

Choice of Class Rings Stone

Class Rings Stone Color

Add some color and pizzazz to your class rings by selecting a beautiful stone. The stone options are varied, normally you’ll have the choice of natural, synthetic, and simulated stones – natural being the more expensive option and "diamond" being the most expensive of all the natural stones. 

When it comes to choosing the color then it could be based on:

  • The schools color (traditional method)

  • The color of your birthstone

  • Simply your favourite color.

The most common choice is by birthstone: 

If you are not keen on the birthstone colour though then personally I think you should choose the graduates favourite color as it is after all something they will want to cherish for the rest of their lives. 

Stone Size

Also to get an idea of the size of the stone chosen then here is a handy table. Cubic Zirconia tends to be measured in point sizes while diamonds are measured in carats: 

Class Rings Stone Cuts

You will normally be offered a variety of stone cuts and example pictures to help you choose better. It is the cuts within the stone that offer the shine and sparkle. This is really down to personal taste though as personally I think smooth cut is a classic style that will stand the test of time. 

Stone Options

There are a couple of stone options:

Encrusting – this is where initials or symbols are added to the stone for an “inlaid” look. Crest – this is where an ornament is actually mounted on top of the stone. 

Accent Stones

These are stones which can be added to the top or side of the ring and can be a choice of cubic zirconia, diamonds, or simulated birthstones.

Engraving Options for Class Rings

Now surprise, surprise there are several things that could be engraved on the class rings:

  • Initials

  • graduates full name

  • the graduates school nick name

  • school name

  • school logo

  • year of graduation

  • symbols for hobbies or passions

  • names or symbols for sports teams.

You also need to decide where you want the above (or other) infoo to be engraved. Choices are:

  • Either side of the ring

  • On top of the ring

  • Inside the band.

The full name, initials or even school nick name and date engraved on the inside of the ring is a nice touch.
A ring for a female should be engraved using a script font while a more manly option would be to engrave the name in block capitals. 

It you want the school name included then normally this would be printed on top of the ring around the stone – I’d reserve this for chunkier mens rings though.

What Size of Class Rings

Class rings are worn on the ring finger (that’s the finger between the middle finger and the pinky) of the right hand as the ring finger on the left hand is reserved for the wedding band.

Considerations Prior to Measuring Class Rings

  • Measure the finger on the hand that you write with as it should be marginally biggar than the same finger on the other hand

  • If you want a wide band then it would be safer to move up a ring size

  • Make sure you measure at the end of the day

  • Measure the finger on a warm day

  • Also measure before any games or sports activities.

How to Actually Measure Your Ring Size

You should check out FAQ on Jostens.

From there you can select "ring size" and actually request a ring sizer to be posted to you or there are instrutions online showing you how to measure there and then. 

Temperature and exercise often affect the size of your finger so you should try wearing your ring for at least 2 weeks before considering changing the size. It is normal for it to feel strange at first but this should last no more than a couple of weeks.

How to Take Care of The Rings

Even rings made from the purest of gold or silver can become discoloured over time so here are some simple cleaning tips:

  • Try cleaning it with a small amout of toothpaste and a brush gently with a babies toothbrush or even paint brush. Be careful though as you don’t want to damage the stones
  • You could try submerging the ring in a glass of alcohol for a few hours
  • Stick them in a glass of water along with a tablet for cleaning false teeth

These are just some jewellery cleaning tips I have picked up along the way but really you should ask the retailer where you buy the ring from what the best method of cleaning is. 

The black smudge that appears on some peoples skin is simply a reaction between the metal and the skins oils. This can be limited by keeping the ring as clean as possible. 

Of course prevention is better than cure though so in order to preserve the beauty and lustre for as long as possible:

  • Avoid contact with harsh acidic cleaning products
  • Always remove before doing any heavy labour or sports activity

  • When you are not wearing your ring, store it carefully rather than leaving it unprotected

Rings Trivia

You'll know that the rings are worn by graduates and alumni to commemorate their graduation. 

The ring is worn on the ring finger of the right hand. Etiquette demands that the insignia faces the wearer when their arm is extended.

Ring ceremonies may or may not be the norm at any high school, college or university. However a ring ceremony can be a great event with students receiving their class rings and making a pledge to the school. The pledge could be to uphold the traditions.

Typically graduates will wear their ring for a few years. This will become a treasured piece of memorabilia in years to come when it is rediscovered, particularly prior to attending a reunion event. 

Class Rings were started by the class of 1835 at West Point. 

Neil Armstrong's Purdue University Class of 1955 ring is on display at the Purdue compus. He wore it on the moon!

It’s worth having a look in Jostens. They have a fabulous online demo showing what your ring of choice would look like after choosing certain personalization options.

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