In the year 1835, the United States Military Academy of West Point unknowingly started a tradition that has carried on now for over 175 years. Every year, thousands upon thousands of students and alumni celebrate their graduations from either high school, college or a university. There are many traditions that follow the concept of graduation, and one of them is for the graduating class to wear their own Class Rings.
Originally worn by the class of 1835, the students at West Point wore their rings as a representation of their class unity. In addition to the symbolism, the ring was also meant to be in remembrance of their time served at the academy. The symbolism of the ring was honorable, elite and coveted by others as word spread from school to school and class to class. Years later, schools and academies all around the globe have picked up on this age-old tradition, so much so that many world-renowned designers have now specialized in the production of graduation and class rings. Traditionally, class rings will typically bear insignia representing the facility and the students of that graduating year will wear their rings with the insignia facing inwards. After their graduation and the subsequent ceremony, the class rings are then meant to be turned around so that the insignia faces outward.
The design of class rings has swayed from the traditional style. Each high school, university or college had one uniform style that was used for all graduating classes, and the only difference from class to class was the year of their graduation that was engraved on the ring. As you know, students have always rebelled against the concept of 'uniform' and so, students began wearing different style class rings soon enough.
Nowadays, it is not uncommon to see graduates with several other insignias and inscriptions added to their class rings. Students are now customizing their metal types, engraving their names or initials and symbol icons for their academic achievements. But most importantly, graduates are also mounting colored gemstones to their class rings, resulting in a more regal look. More often than not, graduates will choose to set their own birthstone, but other gemstones are often used for sentimental reasons or perhaps mystical and alternative healing beliefs. Despite the numerous styles being made available, a few class ring traditions have remained over the years, such as the overall and often gaudy, round, oval or square shape of the graduate class ring. Usually the rings will feature colored gemstone cabochons, such as ruby, sapphire, emerald, citrine or other popular gems.
The significance of the class ring has been passed on from West Point's class of 1835. Students and graduates who purchase and wear colored gemstone class rings do so in remembrance of their youthful years spent together with fellow classmates. Class rings are meant to age and appreciate with time, but not by tangible value, but rather by cherished sentiments. Often times, graduation rings become so sentimental, that they are passed along as heirlooms from one generation to the next. One thing's for sure, the addition of colored gemstones to the Class Ring has made them even more unique then they once were. The natural beauty of precious colored gems, along with age-old tradition and honor are more than enough reasons for every graduating student to own their own class ring. To learn more about the different types of colored gems used in class rings, be sure to visit our gem informational center.