The Super Bowl is upon is! That means unhealthy food, lots of beer, endless advertising, merchandise, predictions, pre-shows, commentators, and no Eagles. But it also means that one team will win and get a big trophy (not the Eagles), and one team will lose and go home and feel badly (thankfully not the Eagles, as their "go home and feel badly" time has already come and gone). The winners will also get championship rings, which are wearable trophies to commemorate their accomplishment.
Championship rings are like class rings on steroids. They're much larger, more detailed, and have all the design flair of an extended yawn. Super Bowl rings are no exception. They each have the same basic elements -- the logo of the winning team and the number of Super Bowls won (indicated by a football on a plinth) -- but how they're represented differs from year to year. Sometimes the logo is raised, or sometimes it's flush to the surface. It could be anywhere on the ring. Sometimes the little footballs are in the center, or on the corners like this Packers ring. The ring could be round or square, and sometimes it's both at once. Recent Super Bowl rings incorporate color well, using it as a background or accent. This is what last year's ring looks like.
If you're wondering how a ring can include all those things, I have the answer: the rings are huge. Not "that woman's engagement ring has a huge diamond" huge, but "this is like a solid gold ring pop" huge. Here's a Super Bowl ring on the hand of a Patriots photographer.
That's insane. That makes me want to ask him why he has a giant hunk of precious metal smelted to his hand! How does he even lift his arm with that thing attached to it!? Of course, these rings are supposed to be large. The men wearing them all have enormous meat hooks for hands, and the Super Bowl is one of the biggest sporting events on the planet. (If not THE biggest.) So it's large by design and to indicate significance. And despite the fact that these rings are gaudy monstrosities, recipients do actually wear them. Ruben Amaro Jr., former GM of the Philadelphia Phillies, wore his giant World Series ring to work. (I actually saw this happen.)
Despite the eccentricities of Philadelphia's second-most recently departed sports executive (hiiiiiiiii Chip Kelly!), I can't imagine that these are every day rings for most people. Not only are they unwieldy, they're completely blinged out. I'd be constantly afraid that I'd lose one of the tiny little diamonds embedded in the surface. They're sometimes rings. Statement rings (AKA large, elaborately decorated, borderline impractical rings) that you wear when you want people to notice it and/or you.
Using the statement ring as a guide, Mashable asked 10 jewelers to redesign the Super Bowl ring. Of course, the Super Bowl ring isn't just any kind of statement ring. Recipients tend to wear theirs more often than a traditional statement ring. So would any of these designs actually work? Do they carry the "spirit" of the NFL and Super Bowl while being something that a human man would put on his finger without incident? Let's examine a few.
This ring is from a designer called Alexis Bittar, and as a concept I really enjoy it. The football helmet is a neglected design element, which is crazy since the flat roundness of it is perfect to put almost anything. Here, they bling it out in opposing colors. (In my opinion, these rings need more color. I know diamonds are the most precious stone, but they're also boring from a design standpoint. Show me some rubies and sapphires and emeralds!) There aren't a lot of specific details, which the NFL and every other major sport is obsessed with putting on their rings (again, like class rings on steroids). But this ring could be easily adapted, with part of each side dedicated to engraved words or a logo and the rest studded with stones. Of course, I'm ignoring the central design element that makes this ring hugely impractical: THE GIANT CENTER SPIKES. Wanna ruin your clothes or the upholstery of your car? Or impale your wife, children, and your own fingers? This is the ring for you! The spikes actually make this design work as a statement piece, but it could never fly as a Super Bowl ring.
This design from Joomi Lim has a lot of possibilities. It's a simple, flat design that could be expanded to include those precious year-to-year details that the NFL loves to put on every ring. The logos could be made a little smaller and the details, either in writing or symbols, could be included on the alternating platinum arms of the central sunburst. Hell, you could even stud those plain platinum areas with diamonds if the whole thing isn't blingy enough. The team's main color is well represented in the stones (imagine how amazing this ring would look in emeralds for the Eagles), which automatically makes this ring more interesting than anything simply covered in diamonds. I really love this ring. I even love the four spikes at the edges! They're not large enough to cause any real damage, but they're also not such a huge part of the design that they couldn't be removed or replaced by something else. Replace them with diamonds and this could be a ring that a Super Bowl winner could actually wear normally. And if you've won a Super Bowl, why wouldn't you want to wear it every day? The biggest thing I've ever won was a regional debate tournament in high school, and if they gave out rings for that you bet I'd wear it every day. (Super Bowl and high school debate, those things are similar, right?)
I've never heard of Lulu Frost before reading this, but she's now my favorite jewelry designer. This ring should be for sale in real life, because I'd buy it. It looks like a traditional class ring, but with the famous laces out football that everyone's favorite made-up disgraced-football-star-masquerading-as-a-woman needed to be successful. It's not a Super Bowl ring, it's actually BETTER.
Well this is certainly a ring. Whether it's a Super Bowl ring is a different story. Some jewelry designers just aren't meant for a certain project. Vita Fede designs simple, elegant jewelry that incorporates interlocking chains, spikes, geometric shapes, and a little bling. Not the stuff that a Super Bowl ring is made of. I think the ring is supposed to look like a stadium, but it's not Levi's Stadium. It's very clean and geometric, with little diamonds studding the lines on the stadium roof, and an interlocking chain at the base. If the NFL is ever looking for a jewelry designer to create a line of geometric stadium rings, they should contact Vita Fede. But as a Super Bowl ring, this is missing the main component of any championship ring: the team. This is a Super Bowl ring in that it commemorates that the yearly event of the Super Bowl did in fact take place. It's not for the winning team, but it's a perfect gift for all the employees who actually lived through it.
Hello, I'd like to introduce you to a true STATEMENT RING. It's eye catching, entirely impractical, and has no place on anyone's finger. I love the goalposts and the bejeweled football on Noir Jewelry's design, but that's where the love ends. I originally thought those golden accent poles were baseball bats, which was confusing. Then I thought they were something football related, but I didn't know what. I wondered if I'd missed something important while watching football for the last 25+ years. Then I asked a few people and no one had a definitive answer. I think they're just decorative, which is disappointing. Those gold rods are a huge part of this design, and if something is going to play such a huge part in the overall look, it should have significance to the purpose of the ring. Regardless, this design is just too tall and too fragile looking to ever make its way on the finger of a football player. Though if that bejeweled football actually spun around, I could see a way.
If the NFL were played in ancient Egypt, this is the ring they'd give out. I can't think of anything but ancient Egyptian jewelry, with the dog head of Anubis so prominent in many things, when I look at this. On here it's not the head of the ancient god of mummification and the afterlife, but the heads of the opposing team's mascots joined together by the ring band. There are two sides, and each features thematic bling in the team's main color. The design of the bling is very thoughtful. The orange stones on one side create the bronco's mane, while on the other side the black stones are jagged like a panther's claw scratch. Of course, championship rings aren't given to the loser, so having both mascots on there may not fly. But if mascot heads are what they want, I can imagine a single mascot head in a ring, and it could be just as beautiful and elegant as this one. (Imagine an eagle head ring and try not to want it.) Though beautiful never seems to be on the NFL's list of championship ring qualities.
Now this is a ring. It's not just a ring, it's a RING! I'm not sure how Super Bowl ring designers haven't tried a two-finger ring yet. With all the crap they try to cram onto an oversized one-finger ring, you'd think they'd have tried it at least once by now. This Kendra Scott design is a perfect jumping off point for actual future rings. It's wide from left to right, supplying a huge expanse of design space. But it's not long lengthwise, so it won't go all the way up to your knuckle like the current rings do. It's also on the flat side, so it's not like the previous ring, but it could also be heightened to include more detail. On top, the border around the outside has so much room for words. Inside that, the possibilities are endless. You could do giant stones. And mascots. And team names. And footballs on plinths. You could even add in a line of leg-kicking Rockettes, this ring has the room for them! This design doesn't reinvent the Super Bowl ring, it adapts it to make it both bigger and easier to wear, which is a damn miracle. And really, is this that much more restrictive than a regular Super Bowl ring? At least with this one, the weight of the ring is spread over two fingers instead of weighing one finger way, way down. NFL, talk to Kendra Scott about this design. This is clearly the next step in the evolution of championship jewelry.