You need world-class skill, teamwork and inspiration to win an NBA championship. You need the same qualities to make a NBA championship ring.
To find out what it takes to make an NBA championship ring, we interviewed executives at Jostens and Jason of Beverly Hills. Both companies have designed and manufactured these ultimate status symbols for professional players.
Jostens is one of the most prolific producers of championship rings. Its resume includes 46 NBA championship rings, 31 Super Bowl rings, Major League Baseball World Series rings, National Hockey League Stanley Cup championship rings, NASCAR rings, Major League Soccer championship rings and hundreds of college and high school championship rings. It most recently designed and made NBA championship rings for the Miami Heat, winners of the 2011-2012 and 2012-2013 seasons.
The Miami HEAT ring posed a unique design challenge. Recreating the logo – 0.5 carat diamond basketball swooshing through a net – was particularly difficult, according to Jostens. The ring also had a secret message on the side panel. Underneath the Larry O’Brien trophy are 16 lines made of 14K gold. Head coach Erik Spoelstra brought a trophy into the locker room when the team made the playoffs. He told the players that they needed 16 games to become champions, and each time the team won a game, he put a notch in the trophy.
Jostens’ 2013 NBA championship ring for the Miami HEAT was equally impressive: It boasted 10.3 carats worth of diamonds – the current record holder for the largest amount of diamonds in a Jostens’ basketball championship ring.
Jason of Beverly Hills has made three NBA Championship rings since 2009. The company most recently crafted the 2014-2015 Golden State Warriors championship ring (Steph Curry proudly wears it), and the 2008-2009 and 2009-2010 rings for the Los Angeles Lakers.
More than 6 carats of diamonds and blue sapphires decorate the 2015 NBA championship ring for the Golden State Warriors. It also features impressive workmanship, symbolism and hidden messages. The 240 diamonds in the ring stand for the team’s wins under the current ownership. The circular top is a nod to the shape of the Warriors jersey logo and the and the shape of a basketball. The custom-made 67% pure gold (approximately 16K) used in the Golden Gate Bridge and the players’ numbers represent the Warrior’s 67 wins in the season.
DESIGNING THE RING
Designing an NBA championship ring is a sprint in creativity and skill. Once the final shot is taken, Jostens and Jason of Beverly Hills rush to beat another buzzer: they will have about four months to
design and make the ring, which is presented to the players on opening day of the next season. Designs are shown to the team. The team owners pick a vendor. A budget is set for the entire project and the amount to be spent on each ring. This varies from team to team. The goal is to make the championship story come to life in gold, diamonds and other gemstones.
EVOLUTION OF NBA CHAMPIONSHIP RINGS
Championship rings have changed over the decades. According to Chris Poitras, vice president, sports marketing and development at Jostens, “Championship rings have changed from simple symbols of victory to a sophisticated extension of the team’s brand. Since these brands are iconic, the logo, font and important moments are worked into the design, making the finished product a retelling of the team’s path to victory and a reflection of the franchise.”
Turning the ring into a brand extension requires a larger canvas, and that means a larger ring. Bigger athletes have also contributed to ever-increasing ring sizes. The Boston Celtics 1969 NBA championship ring by Jostens is a dramatic example of how they’ve evolved. Considered cutting edge at the time because a diamond was set on top of the basketball crest, the Boston Celtics ring features a 0.5 ct diamond set in 10K yellow gold.
PERSONALIZING THE RING
NBA championship rings are a study in personalization. A player’s name and jersey number are usually engraved in the shank. The number of gemstones used may represent the number of players on the team roster or a key milestone in the team’s season or history. The team’s motto, jersey numbers of the players, final scores of important games, and other significant details are subtly incorporated into the design.