By Michael Rod
Since 1967, there have been 47 Super Bowl championship rings made. As a collector for many years, here are 10 amazing things I’ve learned along the way.
1.) When a team wins the Super Bowl, ownership and management choose which company gets to design and manufacture their championship ring. They also decide whether to issue the same ring or a lower-cost version to front office staff, whether to make jewelry available for friends and family and what types of commemorative pieces to create for their fan base.
2.) Jostens has made the most Super Bowl rings of any manufacturer. Jostens made the first ring, awarded to the Green Bay Packers after Super Bowl I, and the most current ring for the Baltimore Ravens. Jostens has made an astounding 30 of the 47 Super Bowl champions rings.
3.) The NFL limits teams to spend around $7,000 per ring and pays for the first 150 rings made. Teams that award more than 150 rings pay the cost for the additional rings themselves. Organizations that have won multiple Super Bowl rings are allowed to spend slightly more on diamonds. Manufacturers typically don’t make much money on the rings and sometimes, they don’t make any money. The reason manufacturers are willing to make rings at or near cost is that they receive tremendous exposure and can generate larger profits on ancillary lines that they sell to family members, friends of the team and fans.
4.) Championship rings have gotten so big that even the largest of linemen find the latest rings huge and uncomfortable to wear. A three-time Super Bowl-winning lineman once confessed to me that he couldn’t wear his Super Bowl XXXIX ring; it was too big for his huge hand. At 110 grams, that ring is around the weight of 20 nickels or 40 pennies. This lineman preferred to wear his smaller, Super Bowl XXXVIII ring.
5.) The losing team in the Super Bowl gets a ring, too. Commonly referred to as the AFC or NFC Championship ring, it’s smaller and contains less bling than the winning ring, although these, too, seem to grow larger as the years go by. The NFL strongly suggests (some would say impose) that the winning and losing teams put the Super Bowl logo on each ring.
6.) In a break with tradition, the Pittsburgh Steelers, decided not to award AFC Championship rings after their Super Bowl XLV loss to the Packers. An executive with the Steelers verified this decision but would not elaborate on the reason. Instead, the team awarded watches to the players, coaches and front office. While this is only speculation, perhaps the team decided that a small AFC champions ring would dwarf their huge Super Bowl XLIII champions ring from two years earlier and that the difference in size would cheapen the XLV award. Perhaps the circumstances below played a part in their decision.
7.) The players on the Steelers were upset with the size of their Super Bowl XL rings. By 2002, winning Super Bowl rings were tipping the scales around 60-70 grams in weight. That changed when the Patriots made the biggest Super Bowl ring ever – when they won their second Super Bowl. Their ring from Super Bowl XXXVIII weighed around 100 grams. The following year when the Patriots repeated, their rings grew to 110 grams.
The next year, the Steelers Super Bowl XL ring was magnificent, containing five large princess cut diamonds, one for each of the franchise’s Super Bowl Championships. However, at 53 grams, it was substantially smaller than other rings from this time period. The players were not happy when they realized their rings were considered tiny by their NFL rivals. The Steelers did remedy this, three years later, when they won Super Bowl XLIII and received rings that weighed 100 grams.
8.) The NFL has an amazing display of every winning Super Bowl ring at its headquarters in New York City. Sadly, you can’t walk in off the street and see the amazing display. When the NFL moved a couple of years ago to a new Park Avenue location, they upgraded the display to include a movable magnifying glass so visitors could peer through the glass and see all the amazing details of each ring.
9.) The Packers became the first team to receive platinum rings when they won Super Bowl XLV. If you think gold is expensive, platinum is even more costly. The huge rings contained almost 3.5 carats of diamonds. The “G” in the middle of the ring contained 13 diamonds – one for each title the team has won, dating back to 1929. There are 92 other diamonds on the ring, one for each year the Packers have been in existence. The ring weighs 110 grams, which is around a quarter of a pound.
10.) Not only have Super Bowl rings grown over the last five decades, the presentation boxes that hold these treasures have evolved, too. Once rings were given in simple 2-inch velvet ring holders. The latest ring boxes can weigh 4 or 5 pounds, have full-color graphics and a glass window to show the ring while it’s housed in the presentation showcase.
Want to see every winning and runner-up Super Bowl ring? Rare pictures along with presentation boxes can be viewed at www.sports-rings.com.