In a matter of days, the New England Patriots will be rewarded with the most sought after, prolific prize in football, the Super Bowl ring.
Details about the Patriots rings are being kept secret until the team's ring ceremony June 9. Until then, here is a history of the Super Bowl ring that gives us an idea of what to expect for the coveted jewel.
Legendary Green Bay Head Coach Vince Lombardi and his two captains - tackle Bob Skoronski and defensive end Willie Davis – designed the first-ever ring along with representative Ken Westerlund of Jostens, the Minnesota-based jewelry company that will design New England's Super Bowl XXXVI rings. Jostens has designed 24 of the 36 title rings.
That first ring was 10k (41.7 percent pure gold, 58.3 percent metal alloy) and had a one-karat diamond inset in a white gold hemispheric globe. With the price of gold being about $32 per ounce back then, those 1967 Packer rings cost less than $1,000 each to make, though Lombardi's personal ring is valued near $100,000 now. The design by Westerlund included a detail of the Lombardi family coat of arms combined with the emblems of the AFL and NFL on one side of the shank, with the scores of the NFL championship game and Super Bowl on the other side.
Though the first title rings were basic by today's standard, it set the standard of Super Bowl rings being quite large, weighing 23 pennyweight. (20 pennyweight is equal to one ounce). By comparison, the average men's ring weighs 12 pennyweight, and the average high school ring is about seven pennyweights.
Through the years, Super Bowl rings have increased in size, value and detail. In 1999, after their second consecutive Super Bowl victory, the Denver Broncos designed rings weighing 46 pennyweight, doubling the original Green Bay ring. Denver's rings contained 124 diamonds weighing a total of 4.04 carats. As big as the average 1999 ring was, Chicago defensive lineman William "the Refrigerator" Perry had the largest individual one ever made in 1986, ordering a size 23 ring, which is the size of a half dollar. Of course he cheated the system, getting sized for his middle finger, so he could get more gold.
Each year the NFL funds $5,000 per ring for up to 125 rings for the league champions, but the teams generally spend more money on top of that. Even the most basic rings are valued around $10,000. Of course, championship teams spare no expense to honor such a special moment.
The Baltimore Ravens went all out in delivering Super Bowl rings to players following their 2000 championship. A helicopter landed in the middle of then-PSINet Stadium. As the theme music to Mission: Impossible played in the background, 20 men dressed in black and carrying metal briefcases jumped out and delivered the rings.
Those rings were 14-karat yellow gold (58.5 percent pure gold, 41.5 percent metal alloy) with a contoured top to symbolize the football stadium, surrounded at the base with 40 diamonds. The Raven logo was on the top, crafted in 18-karat yellow gold (75 percent pure gold, 25 percent metal alloy) and set with 63 yellow diamonds. The bird had a white gold, diamond set beak and ruby eye, and was mounted upon an amethyst (purple) base stone.
The right side of each ring had the individual player's name and jersey number, along with the Ravens shield and the inscription, "Set the Standard," a phrase from Baltimore's mission statement. The left shank included the 2000 Super Bowl XXXV logo, score, and the Vince Lombardi trophy rising out of the PSINet stadium. Both shanks bear the inscription, "INVICTUS" – the title of a presentation given to the team during last year's training camp by Art Berg, a well-known motivational speaker and world-class wheelchair athlete.
Jostens is producing the New England rings. In announcing the deal with Jostens, the Patriots said in a statement, "The Super Bowl ring selection process was very competitive. We chose Jostens to make our Super Bowl ring because the design team and sales staff knew what we wanted and worked aggressively to achieve that result. The design of the ring is very unique and contains elements that reflect a truly remarkable year."
In addition to making the players' rings, Jostens will produce and market an exclusive line of Super Bowl memorabilia to Patriot fans. You'll find the entire line at the Patriots online Pro Shop and at its Pro Shop at CMGI Field.
Be sure to check back to Patriots.com on June 9, at which time we will provide the first images and details of the 2001 Super Bowl championship rings.