If you were a ring, what would you look like?
That may seem like a funny question, but for many high school and college students, class ring design is a way to express who they really are. Often, a high school or college class ring becomes an heirloom that you can save to share with future generations. The design that you choose today will become a historical artifact that your great-great-great-grandchildren may use to better understand you, your accomplishments, and the styles and trends of 2021 America.
You need to keep your legacy in mind as you select the stones, metals, and symbols that you want to represent you long after you are gone. But what exactly are your options?
Read on to learn about the many options for customization when you’re ready to design your very first high school class ring. You’ll learn more about class ring symbol meaning, and find the answers to some frequently asked questions about this creative tradition!
The Novelty of Choice
The earliest class rings appeared on fingers nearly two hundred years ago, as a symbol of unity among the senior class at West Point Military Academy in West Point, New York. In the beginning, all of the rings were identical, with a simple West Point seal and standardized signet design. The goal was uniformity – every member of the West Point class of 1835 knew that their fellow cadets all wore the same ring, making them feel like they were truly part of something for life.
That would not fly in 2021. An original class ring design is a rite of passage for junior and senior high school students on the cusp of graduation, and even many college students about to enter the workforce. Today, even West Point students have complete creative control when it comes to the design of their college class ring, which shows just how far this tradition has come.
Classic Ring Silhouettes
When you are ready to buy a class ring, the first decision you should make is which silhouette you want to start with. The silhouette refers to the size and shape of the base of your ring. Some ring silhouettes are more traditional, while others have a sleeker, more modern look.
Rings tend to come in both masculine and feminine styles. More traditional or classic class rings share many of the same features but suit different-sized hands.
Masculine ring silhouettes tend to be larger and bulkier. They maintain their thickness around the band. Often, they’re set with a large stone or crest at the center.
Feminine ring silhouettes are significantly more delicate. They are thicker on top, allowing more options for customizations, and narrow toward the bottom. They tend to be smaller than masculine rings, but still feature a stone or crest front and center in the design.
Overall Class Ring Design
If you aren’t choosing the default ring style offered at your school, then you have some more decisions to make. There are a few different design categories that you may want to consider as you put the different components of your ring together. Many students find it helpful to begin with a general category in mind when designing their perfect class ring.
Modern rings are ideal for those who like the look of a classic class ring but may want something a little more understated. Like classic rings, they can feature either a signet or a gemstone as the centerpiece. Compared to classic rings, modern rings are narrower, with all of the most popular personalization details, just on a smaller scale.
If you’re not a fan of the classic class ring but are still interested in becoming a part of the class ring tradition, you might consider a fashion ring. Other than the fact that these rings sit on your class ring finger, others might not realize they’re class rings at all. A fashion ring allows you to inject a little bit of your personality into this centuries-old tradition and yields a funky ring that you will love to wear long after you’ve walked at graduation.
Often, these rings feature unique gemstone cuts or even multiple colorful gemstones. Fashion rings feature heart or star-shaped stones, interesting settings, and unique engravings. They can be as sleek or over the top as you’d like, as long as they keep style at the forefront.
The opposite of both the classic ring and the fashion ring is the subtle minimalist ring. These rings are simple, and often do not contain a gemstone at all. In 2021, a “band” style design is popular, which features a consistent width all the way around, much like a wedding band.
On a minimalist ring, much of the personalization is on the inside, where wearers often have a meaningful engraving. These rings are ideal for those who aren’t interested in drawing attention but still want to participate in their junior ring ceremony and other ring-related traditions.
Another twist on your ring design is to go vintage. Often, these rings feature a classic design and silhouette, but with elements chosen specifically for their timeless, stately features. You can expect narrow stones, bold fonts, and often feature a coat of arms.
Rectangular stones are a popular feature of vintage designs. Your ring will look a lot like it came out of an antique shop. You can even design your ring based on the ring of a grandparent or other relative.
You also have a choice of metal when designing your ring, which can completely change the look of your design. This can also affect the price of the ring, as different metals hold different values. Many students see their ring as an investment, with the potential to become a valuable family heirloom in the future.
To Plate or Not to Plate?
If price is a concern, you can choose to purchase a ring with metal plating, often over a base of sterling silver. Sterling silver is comparatively less expensive than more precious metals and still makes a strong, attractive ring band. The precious metal will plate the outside, so nobody will know that your ring is not made entirely of a more luxurious metal.
You can also choose a ring that is entirely sterling silver, which provides a classic look in an affordable price range. If cost is prohibitive, speak to your representative about financing options. Nobody should feel left out when it comes to designing the class ring of their dreams!
If you are looking to invest in a high-quality class ring, you might consider designing a ring made entirely of a precious or luxury metal. The most common metals include white gold, yellow gold, and rose gold. In some cases, you may be able to select different metals for different parts of your ring, such as a combination of both silver and yellow gold.
You may also be able to select a matte, black, or copper finish for your ring, which will give it a contemporary and unique look.
Gemstones and Their Meanings
The centerpiece of most contemporary class rings is a gemstone. While many students choose to select a gemstone featuring one of your school colors, there is no reason to limit yourself or your creativity! If you are planning on wearing your class ring after high school, you should choose the color that is most meaningful and attractive to you!
For many students in 2021, a class ring featuring a birthstone is appealing. This is a more personal choice that allows you to show off a personal facet without foregoing class ring etiquette. Every birthstone is available as a class ring stone, so feel free to select your favorite shade, even if it’s not the same as your birthstone.
Today, there are so many unique stones available to create the look you’re dreaming of. Many modern rings feature stones like jade or turquoise. Those interested in a classic look might settle for the subtle luster of a stone such as mother of pearl.
Depending on the style of your ring, you might also have the opportunity to select the cut of your stone. This describes the shape and faceted look of the stone in your ring. The more facets there are in the cut of the stone, the more “bling” in your ring!
In the case of fashion rings, you can even choose stones in unique shapes such as hearts. In some cases, the setting of your ring will even allow for multiple stones.
Symbols and Engravings
The part of a class ring design that most students look forward to is the selection of the custom symbols and engravings. You should choose symbols to represent your interests, favorite subjects, sports, clubs, and more. Some students choose to include their initials in the design of their ring, while others settle for having their name engraved on the inside of the band.
This is the part of your ring that is most representative of who you are at this moment in time. Choose the symbols that best reflect your entire high school career so that you can look at your ring and remember who you were at this exciting moment in time. What are the strengths that you will want to share with your children or grandchildren in the future?
Some rings, especially in the minimalist style, do not have designated spaces for symbols. In those cases, you may wish to express yourself through engraving. Consider including a special quote or date in the design of your ring.
How to Wear a Class Ring
The look of your ring will reflect the combination of unique elements that you have chosen to reflect your style and interests at this moment in time. After you’ve designed your perfect ring, you might have some questions about how to wear it!
What Finger Does a Class Ring Go On?
Are you wondering where to wear a class ring?
Traditionally, you wear your class ring on the ring finger. The original college ring finger was the left ring finger. Many West Point graduates continue to wear their class ring there today.
What Hand Do You Wear Your Class Ring On?
Today, it’s more common to wear your class ring on the right hand. This is because most people want to save their left ring finger for their wedding ring. Ultimately, however, it is up to you which hand (and even which finger) you’d like to use for your ring.
When Should I Order My Class Ring?
Usually, when it’s time to order, a representative will come to your school to answer any questions you have and measure your finger. Often, this is in the spring of your junior year or the fall of your senior year. Each school does things differently, so keep an ear out for class ring season in your region.
When Do You Get a Class Ring in College?
Your college ring ceremony is typically at the end of your senior year, just before graduation. College class ring etiquette dictates that students turn their class ring outward after graduation.
Are Class Rings Worth It?
Yes! Often, class rings are worth it just for the opportunity to design a ring that reflects who you are at this moment in time! Many students wear their class rings for many years as a memento of their academic accomplishments and go on to share their rings with future generations.
Design Your Dream Ring
Your senior year of high school or college is a time when you have to make a lot of decisions, and not all of them are fun. The opportunity to come up with a unique class ring design is one of the best decisions you can make during this moment of major transition. You’ll have a blast designing the ring that will come along with you as you finish school and face your future.
Are you ready to flex your creativity? Check out the options for incredible, unique class rings at classrings.com and get to work. You’ll be able to step into the future wearing a ring that reflects who you truly are!