What is a Class Ring? History and Traditions

Class rings are a cherished tradition that dates back centuries. They represent the accomplishments and memories of a student's educational journey. Whether it’s a high school, college, or university, a class ring is a symbol of pride and loyalty. 

From the style and design to the type of metal and gemstones that are used, each class ring is unique and personal. These rings are timeless keepsakes that will be treasured for a lifetime.


students gathered on a field at West Point


What Exactly is a Class Ring?

A class ring is a type of jewelry traditionally gifted to graduating high school or college students. Typically, a class ring features the school’s seal, the student’s name and year of graduation, and a variety of symbols that represent the school or its students. The rings can come in a variety of styles and can be made of gold, silver, or other materials.

There is a long and storied history to class rings. The tradition of wearing class rings dates back to 1835, when the students at the United States Military Academy at West Point began wearing rings to commemorate their time in university. 

Related: 10 Types of Rings & What They Mean

Over time, the class ring has become a symbol of alumni pride and has become a popular item among graduating students. Many students customize their rings with symbols and engravings that represent their school and its values.

Class rings are also an important part of the graduation ceremony. Whenever a student receives their diploma, they will often put their class ring on their finger in celebration. This symbolizes their hard work and dedication over the years and serves as a reminder of their accomplishments.

A traditional class ring is a great way for graduating students to remember their time at school and can be a great conversation starter for alumni. They are also a great way to show off school pride for current and former students alike.

Class Ring Etiquette

Class ring etiquette is an important part of the tradition of wearing a class ring. Although the rules may differ slightly depending on the school, there are some general guidelines to follow when wearing a class ring.

Your class ring should be worn on the ring finger of the right hand. This is done to signify the bond between the wearer and their school and to represent a commitment to the values of the school. The ring should only be removed in special circumstances, such as for a medical procedure or to show respect in a setting such as a house of worship.

Class rings should not be modified or changed in any way. Some schools may allow for some personalization, such as engraving a name or date on the inside of the ring. However, changing the design or adding any other alteration is generally not allowed.

Ideally, a class ring should be kept clean and polished. This is important to maintain the spirit of the ring and to ensure that it looks its best.

Make sure that the class ring is not used to make any type of statement or to show off. The class ring is a symbol of respect and pride in one’s school and should be treated as such.

Related: Ring Cracked? How to Repair a Ring Guide

Class Ring Traditions

Class rings are a long-standing tradition among high school and college students. Students traditionally wear the ring to show their pride in their school and to commemorate their graduation.

Class rings are typically made of gold or silver and are engraved with the student's name, the school's name, and the graduation year. They also often feature the school's mascot or crest. Some rings may include additional details such as major or club affiliations.

When a student receives their class ring, they often have a special ceremony to celebrate the occasion. At this time, they may receive a ring pillow and have the ring placed on their finger by a family member or friend. The ring is then worn proudly to signify the accomplishment of graduating from their school.

Class rings can be worn on the ring finger of their right hand or the little finger of their left hand. Many students also choose to add a special charm to their class ring, such as the school's mascot or crest, to represent their school and add a personalized touch.

Traditions involving class rings are important to many students, as it is a way for them to honor their school and show their pride. It is also a physical reminder of the struggles and sacrifices they have to make or have made for their education.

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Caring For Your Class Ring

Caring for a class ring is important since it is a symbol of your achievements and should be cherished. Here are some tips to make sure your class ring is well taken care of:

Clean your class ring regularly. Use a soft cloth or jewelry cleaner to gently wipe away any dirt or grime that has built up over time.

Store your ring in a safe place. Find a safe place in your home to store your class ring when you’re not wearing it. Avoid extreme temperatures and direct sunlight to prevent discoloration.

Have your ring professionally checked and serviced. Have a professional jeweler inspect your class ring annually to ensure that the gemstones are secure and that the metal is free from damage. They can also polish the ring to bring back its original shine.

Avoid harsh chemicals. When handling your class ring, avoid contact with harsh chemicals such as bleach and hairspray. These can damage the metal and gemstones.

Don’t wear it in the shower or pool. Water can cause damage to the metal and gemstones, so it’s best to take off your class ring before showering or swimming.

Related: How to Clean Ring at Home: 5 Best Ways


a group of graduates throwing their caps into the air


Final Thoughts

Class rings are a great way to commemorate a special time in one's life. They are treasured keepsakes that can be enjoyed for many years to come. 

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They can be a symbol of pride and accomplishment and a reminder of wonderful memories. Class rings are a great way to celebrate an important milestone in life.