All You Need To Know About Championship Rings
Championship rings are celebratory pieces of jewelry. They honor a team and its coaching staff's win in their sports league’s final game. Made of solid gold, diamonds, and other gemstones, these rings are usually distributed to the defending champions during the team’s first home game of the following season. Our very own Colorado Avalanche earned their Stanley Cup rings at the end of 2022! As we gear up for the Big Game this weekend, learn more about championship rings, their history, and the design of these legendary souvenirs.
In the 20th century, championship rings initially became a representation of “leaving as champions” for a team; and that is how they got their name. The concept of celebrating a successful game and season with a memorable piece of jewelry began with mementos such as pocket watches, tie clips, and cufflinks. As this idea became more popular, championship rings became THE thing to have for professional athletes and their coaches. The primary sports leagues that give out rings are:
- Major League Soccer (MLS) Cup
- National Basketball Association (NBA) Finals
- National Hockey League (NHL) Stanley Cup
- National Football League (NFL) Super Bowl
- Major League Baseball (MLB) World Series
There are first times for everything and ice hockey's Montreal Hockey Club was the first to commission a championship ring after winning the 1893 Stanley Cup championship. These rings resembled wedding bands with two crossed hockey sticks. Championship rings have come a long way since then, getting bigger and blingier every year. We can only imagine how much more they will evolve.
Behind The Design
All championship rings have their similarities and differences. The classic ring design is an arrangement of diamonds and gemstones set in yellow or white gold. All championship rings have these main components:
- symbolism related to the team’s season (i.e. the number of gemstones relating to how many games they won)
- The team name and logo of the franchise
- The year of the championship won (i.e. Super Bowl LV = 55th Super Bowl game)
When it comes to differences, it depends on the team's influence. What do they want to remember? What do they feel is most important to include in their rings' design? There aren’t any rules when it comes to the design of commemorative ring. Some even have unique features such as opening up to reveal a small version of the home stadium or field.
You may wonder, where are these rings created? There is one recognized jeweler for the NBA, NFL, NHL, and MLB championship rings. Though other jewelers will create rings once in a while, Josten’s is the go-to designer. Josten’s is known for creating memorabilia such as yearbooks, graduation garb, and class rings (go-figure). More recently, the well-known Tiffany & Co has become a major supplier of championship trophies!
One detail that isn’t hard to miss is the gemstones. Since the 1990s, championship rings have continued to add more diamonds and incorporate colored gemstones, too.
An example of how the gemstones and design of the ring represent the team’s achievements are visible in the Golden State Warriors 2022 NBA Championship ring. “The rings feature approximately 16 carats of yellow and white diamonds set into yellow gold to represent the team’s 16 wins during the 2022 NBA Playoffs, marking the first time a Championship ring has been made up primarily of yellow diamonds. Seven carats of yellow cushion cut diamonds on the bezel represent the team’s seven championships, while 43 baguettes in the bridge represent Stephen Curry’s 43-point performance in Game 4 of the NBA Finals” (NBA.com).
Championship Rings In Colorado
Championship rings are spread out all across the country, but did you know a few of our state’s teams have received rings themselves? The Colorado Avalanche are the most recent Stanley Cup winners, making their 2022 achievement their third Stanley Cup win. This means there are three different championship rings made specifically for the Colorado Avalanche.
“The ring, created by memorabilia manufacturer Jostens, features a 10-karat white gold band with an average of 679 SI quality diamonds (depending on the ring size) with 20 created sapphires and 42 created rubies. The front of the ring features the Avs logo in front of the Stanley Cup with the words ‘Stanley Cup Champions.’ The inside has ‘find a way’ engraved with the Avalanche logo in place of the ‘a.’ Below that are the records of Colorado’s four playoff series wins. The left side of the ring says ‘Avalanche’ with three Stanley Cups, one for each of the franchise championships, from 1996, 2001 and 2022” (Denverpost.com).
One of our favorite restaurants (and views) in Boulder is Flagstaff House. Recently, they shared a photo on their Instagram featuring the three Colorado Avalanche Stanley Cup rings.
Our team, the Denver Broncos, also received championship rings after their win at the 2015-2016 Super Bowl (Super Bowl 50). “In the Denver Broncos’ Super Bowl 50 championship ring boasts 212 round, tapered and marquise-shaped diamonds all meticulously set in a 10-karat white-and-yellow gold ring. This collection of stones comes together to create a stunning ring that tops more than 5.05 carats. The ring top features the Super Bowl 50 logo and the team's three Lombardi Trophies placed above the Denver Broncos logo on a field of pave-set diamonds. The trophies are created from marquise-cut stones, tapered baguettes, and pave-set stones. The Bronco mane is created from diamond-cut orange sapphires while the head features pave-set diamonds and a custom-cut corundum blue stone.
The words "WORLD CHAMPIONS" adorn the top and bottom edges. The sides feature 56 stones representing the Broncos' 56-year history and the top and bottom edges each feature 15 stones to mark the team's 15 wins during the 2015 season and the 15 titles. One side features the player's number and their name above a crown highlighted in yellow to mark all three Super Bowl titles with eight round stones adorning the top of the crown to mark the team's eight AFC Championships. The other side features DENVER BRONCOS arched above an image of the Lombardi Trophy and the year 2015. The trophy is surrounded by the words "THIS ONE'S FOR PAT" in honor of Owner Pat Bowlen.” (CBSsports.com).
There is a lot of tradition and symbolism behind these glittering tokens. They are more than just a trophy, as they are personalized to that team and its players' winning achievements. What team ring will be next?