Image from Pexels.

Image from Pexels.

Well friends, it’s about that time of year again. Super-enthusiastic ring salesmen are travelling to high schools across America, encouraging high school juniors (and their parents) to invest not only in a ring, but in a lifetime of memories. Or something like that, anyway. They’ll be showing delightfully cheesy promotional videos with happy, diverse students beaming about their new class rings (personally, I’m a fan of this gem) and distributing glossy, novella-sized catalogues full of sparking synthetic gems

In my experience, I’ve noticed that high school students are divided over their opinion of class rings. Some thing they’re gaudy wastes of money, while others think they’re a great way to mark the end of their high school journey. After consulting the TP staff, I’ve come up with three courses of actions you can take during this season of indecision:

Option 1: Buy a Class Ring

For those of you who are psyched about class ring season, check out Samantha’s perspective: “I personally bought a class ring. It was expensive, but I love the one I designed and I had some money put away from my birthday so I decided to splurge…My two major criteria were that it had to be a style that I knew I would still wear after I graduated high school and I didn’t want to spend more than $250.” This is the perfect example of how you should approach the high school ring process. If you’re interested in buying a class ring, set a reasonable budget with your parents and stick to it. Spend a significant amount of time deciding on your design, and make sure that it’s exactly what you want before ordering.

General Design Tips

1. Shy away from “trendy” designs or colors. Dropping $500 on a 10-karat gold ring with a fuschia, heart-shaped stone may seem like a rational decision now, but it probably won’t feel that way in a year or two. Traditional is definitely the way to go when this kind of money is involved.

2. Stick with something small – if your hand looks overburdened when you try a ring on, it’s probably not the one for you. And make no mistake: class rings are hefty. If your ring is big enough to break a window, consider choosing a smaller size. Also make sure the ring’s stone doesn’t stick out too far from the ring’s base; otherwise, you’ll probably nick it through normal wear and tear.

3. When it comes to metals, choose the color that you already have the most of in your jewelry collection (which, for a high schooler, I’m guessing is probably silver). That makes it possible for you to wear your ring every day if you so choose. After all, there’s nothing worse than having a great piece of jewelry that only looks good with a few select outfits.

4. For the color of the stone, your two safest bets are your school color or your birthstone. I suppose picking your favorite color is fine, but remember that in three years you might not be as crazy about chartreuse as you are now. Your school colors and birthstone aren’t ever going to change, so you can’t go wrong choosing one of them.

Option 2: Don’t buy a class ring

When I asked the staff of The Prospect, the most overwhelming response regarding class rings fell into this camp.

Elizabeth said, “I don’t really think class rings are worth the money you have to spend on them. I know they symbolize your high school experience and graduation and all that jazz, but I really don’t think that in 20 years you’re going to be looking at your class ring to feel nostalgic of the ‘golden years’.”

She definitely has a point here. In the age of iPhone cameras and hundreds of photography apps, capturing your high school memories isn’t hard to do. All you need to do to take a trip down memory lane is scroll down your Facebook feed or flip through a yearbook. And don’t forget – you probably still have your tickets and dress from prom, some confetti from homecoming, noisemakers from football games, too many tee shirts to count from fundraisers and athletic events, and maybe even a letterman jacket. Chances are you’re not going to have a problem remembering the good old days.

And here’s the deal: the excitement of class rings does wear off. Most students are psyched after getting their rings. They immediately whip out their iPhones and snap away, saying that they’ll be wearing their rings until they’re old and gray. A few months later, maybe half of them still wear their rings on a regular basis. Two years down the road, that number is probably nill.

Also, if you’re college-bound, don’t forget that you may want to purchase a class ring in college. With some schools boasting rich class ring traditions (MIT perhaps being the strongest example), missing out on buying a college ring would be a far bigger deal than skipping over a high school ring. And college rings, unlike their high school cousins, really are for life. I have neighbors and teachers in their sixties still proudly rocking rings from their UVa, Notre Dame, and Cornell undergraduate years.

Kaitlyn had a bigger problem with design than anything else, saying, “I never got a class ring…They’re really expensive and quite large. It’s a bit too gaudy for me.” Class rings do have a very distinct look, and some people just aren’t fans of it. If you find yourself longing for a class ring, but put off by the designs in your school’s catalogue, take a look at option three below.

Option 3: Buy a ring, but not a class ring

The basic idea here is that instead of ordering a collegiate-looking class ring from a company like Herff Jones, Jostens, or Balfour, you simply pick out a ring at a jewelry store and declare it your high school ring. I personally know a handful of people who went this route when class ring time rolled around and are still thrilled with their decisions.

This option is fab for a number of reasons. First, you have much more control over the cost of your ring when you’re comparing prices from a variety of stores. Your selection is infinitely larger when the world is your catalogue, and with no forms to complete or deadlines to meet, you can really take your time deciding which ring you want. It also goes without saying that, as long as you choose a traditional, simple style, you’ll be able to wear this kind of ring well beyond high school and college.


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the author

Elizabeth Watson (just call her Beth) is a senior at an itty-bitty private Catholic high school in Virginia. In addition to writing for The Prospect, she writes and performs sketch comedy with her improv troupe, rehearses like mad for school theatre productions, suits up for forensics competitions, and writes poetry for her school’s literary magazine. A brief rundown of Beth’s favorite people and things ever to exist in no particular order: hole-in-the-wall bookshops, sweaters, Jane Eyre, peppermint tea (in a Troy and Abed mug, of course), Broadway musicals, British period dramas, Neil Patrick Harris, and Hugh Jackman. Beth’s long-term goal in life to is to become Julie Andrews, but for now she’s focusing on surviving the final stretch of high school and getting into college–hopefully as an English major

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