A Beginner’s Guide to Buying Class Rings

buying class rings

Class rings put the class in classic style.

These foundational accessories—a tradition in schools since the 1880s—hold sentimental value, making them relevant and memorable for years to come. They transcend both trends and time, never fading, only becoming heirlooms for later generations. They can be ornate or simple, delicate or bold, flashy or modest, telling a tale of the person wearing them.

Are you considering your first class ring

Buying class rings is a fun process where you get to be in total control of the design. From what you embellish it with—the date, the name of your school, a symbol of your major—to its material, optional gems, and more, buying a class ring means creating something unique to you. That’s perhaps the greatest allure of getting a graduation ring.

If you like it, put a class ring on it. Here’s how!

Consider Your Budget to Help Your Search

Let’s get real for a second.

Graduating high school is not exactly cheap.

That’s when so many expenses come at you at once—shopping for prom, buying yearbooks, senior pictures. There are caps, gowns, and tassels. And of course, there’s the class ring.

Class rings range drastically in price. Because of the ability to customize rings to the nth degree in most cases, the cost can get up there, even into the thousands. But there’s a silver lining to that because the opposite is also true—rings can be incredibly affordable, even as low as $70.

Depending on what you’re willing and able to spend, rings can be affordable additions to your jewelry box or major investments you plan to maintain and keep forever. Both options are good—it all depends on your preferences! If you’re not super into jewelry, you might go for something more casual and cheaper; on the other hand, you can seriously ball out, too, opting for flashy metal and big gems.

Figuring out your budget first will help you narrow down your options, making the hunt easier. Your budget informs things like the ring company you work with, the style, and the amount of detail on the ring. You can immediately eliminate rings out of your price range, shopping within a comfortable range.

On average, you can expect to pay a few hundred dollars for a standard class ring. Often, you can place a deposit or even pay in installments. The price easily goes up or down depending on factors like the style or material.

We’ll take a look at the subject of those next.

Know What Style You’re Looking For

Class rings come in as many different styles as they do budgets. There’s no lack of options for choosing something unique and specific to your tastes. Your ring might be understated while your best friend’s ring is blingy, or vise versa—there are no rules to designing the perfect fit!

Take a look at the different style offerings available to you. Are you going for a look that’s simple—like an engraved silver band—or something that honors your major achievements, like a bright birthstone surrounded by your school’s name? Would you rather have a signet, known for its traditional stamped look, or something that’s luxe, stackable, on-trend?

The statement you make all depends on you.

It helps to consider what your future self might enjoy, too. Sure, a giant emerald might be appealing to you now, but do you think you could wear that style later, in a professional setting, for example? If you’ve always been a fan of flashier items, the chances are you’ll enjoy that gem for decades to come—but don’t trick yourself into splurging for it if you’re normally an elegant dresser.

As mentioned above, your budget might have a lot of influence over what style class ring you end up buying. The more customizations, stones, or deluxe the metal, the higher your price tag will be. Speaking of metal, what are your options there?

One of the major elements of style is material. Sterling silver, gold, rose gold, copper—they all tell a different story. What story do you want to tell about yourself?

Below are some of the most common materials used in creating graduation rings.

Material Matters: What Metal Will You Choose?

Look at your current jewelry collection, if you have one.

Is it primarily silver or gold? If it’s gold—is it white, rose, or yellow gold? Do you frequently mix and match your metals, or is that off-limits?

Try to choose a metal that’ll go with your tried-and-true style. If you’re addicted to stacking gold rings, a yellow gold class ring will line up perfectly with the others. If you’re a silversmith, you’ll appreciate a Sterling band that’s expertly crafted and always classy.

Can’t choose one or the other, but also don’t mind mixing? Some class ring manufacturers go the dual-toned route, offering gold/silver combinations that do anything but clash. Bonus: it’ll match with whatever metal you’re wearing in your ears or on your wrist. 

One of the most affordable materials on the market is white lustrium, which is a combination of nickel and chromium. It’s incredibly durable, and when plated, looks like silver or white gold. Expect to pay more for materials like 92.5 silver or 18K gold.

Siding Isn’t Just for the Home

What are we talking about here?

We’re talking about the sides of your ring—that small amount of real estate on either end of the middle, where you can add small details. When it comes to ring design, there aren’t many spaces to take advantage of, so many students choose the sides as a place to display their personal touches.

What can you put on the side of your ring? The options are as endless as the stars.

You can utilize both sides—for example, placing a graduation year on one side and an illustration on the other. That illustration can be anything you participated in throughout high school—violin, cheerleading, football, art, science, soccer—or even the school mascot. You can add words, such as your school’s name, your last name, or something entirely different. 

Of course, there’s also the option to keep the sides bare, sleek, and simple, letting the center of the ring speak for itself.

That’s the beauty of getting a class ring. What other chances will you have to design a ring so special and unique to you? We’re thinking maybe a work ring or a wedding band—in other words, not many.

Carpe the opportunity!

Finally, let’s discuss the final addition (or not) to your class ring. Will you opt for a gemstone? Or will you go the minimalist route?

Here’s what you need to know.

Gem or No Gem: That Is the Question

We mentioned a style of ring earlier called signet. Signet rings are usually simple bands with carvings in them. They might have a whole insignia or stamp, or just initials—at the discretion of the wearer.

Signet rings, and others like them, don’t have stones or gems. They don’t need them to be beautiful pieces of jewelry that can be passed down as heirlooms. They still make a statement.

Another option, though, is to opt for some type of class ring stone. Gemstones can be anything of the wearer’s choice.

Often, students choose to get their birthstone—opal, sapphire, rubies, or pearls, for example. Another choice is to pick a stone that matches the school’s main color (think: a purple stone to honor your school’s purple detailing), or even just your favorite color—let’s say yellow.

Finally, you might be an appreciator of natural stones—another beautiful addition to any class ring. Natural stones encompass anything from diamonds and turquoise to jade or tiger’s eye. These bright, vivid stones look fantastic when surrounded by a sturdy band and are an excellent option for someone who doesn’t care for birthstones. 

Sizing Is a Final Consideration

Not sure what size finger you have—or even which finger you want to wear your ring on? No worries.

Like everything else concerning the tradition of graduation rings, the finger you wear it on is also completely up to you. There are no hard rules and infinite ways to rock it—even on a chain around your neck if you so choose. For the purposes of this discussion, though, we’ll assume you’re not.

Many students wear their class rings on the right hand’s fourth finger, saving the left hand for other important rings, wink wink, nudge nudge. Another popular option is the index finger of either hand—but be aware, it will get prime attention in this spot. So, if you’re not trying to flash your bling (especially if you’re a hand talker), you may want to wear it elsewhere.

Let’s say you’ve opted for the classic position on your right hand. How do you measure it?

There are several ways to do this. You can visit your local jeweler for the most accurate sizing. You can order a ring sizer online, which will likely give you an accurate fit. You can visit a class ring demo and use their measuring tools.

One way to measure your ring size at home involves little more than yarn and a ruler. Wrap the string around your ring finger, cinching where the two ends meet. Compare that to a ruler’s millimeters, and use an online translation tool to determine your ring size! You can also measure the inside diameter of another ring of yours that fits that finger.

When Should You Order Your Class Ring?

Hopefully, you’re reading this article early enough to follow these tips! 

The likely scenario is your school will have something like a ring week—a week dedicated to teaching students about different ring options. You’ll get to consider things like what we’ve discussed here, try on different sizes, and see designs in person. They might even connect you to excellent ring manufacturers like us.

Let’s say you missed the date or your school doesn’t participate in something like that. When should you take the reins into your own hands and order a ring?

Many high schoolers like to do it on the earlier side—ordering during their sophomore year or the summer before eleventh grade. That gives them plenty of time to enjoy wearing the ring where all their adoring classmates can see it. Other students are bound to get class rings themselves, and you’ll get to participate in comparing how everyone’s turned out.

Another reason to order early is a fun tradition that’s attached to class rings.

Before you graduate, you’ll wear the ring so the insignia faces you. After you graduate, you’ll flip the ring around, facing the insignia away from you—showing off that alumni status. If you don’t order while you’re still in school, you won’t get the pleasure of that ritual, something as memorable as the tossing of the caps.

Buying Class Rings Is a Rite of Passage

A graduation ring is something you’ll never regret buying.

It’s not like a shirt you’ll grow out of or a pattern you’ll no longer like. Class rings will forever have a deeper meaning that’s intrinsic to their existence. They’re tangible proof of four formative years of your life—where you loved, lost, laughed, cried, persevered, learned, made friends—and participated in so many other rites of passage.

That’s why buying class rings is always a good idea.

Use this guide to get you started. Consider things like budget, style, design, and stones. Find a trusted company to create your perfect ring—one that’s unique to you and your experiences. 

If you want to learn some class ring etiquette, click here. We explain all the details of wearing your new class ring, from which finger to wear it on, to which direction it should face (and when). Keep reading!

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