Once again, Tiffany & Co. nabbed the jewelry commission of the year and it was for a bunch of guys: diamond-studded championship rings for the New York Giants to honor their Super Bowl victory on February 5, 2012. A gang of excited, burly men tromped into Tiffany’s on Fifth Avenue on Wednesday, May 16, disrupting the gentile buzz in order to claim their prize at the ring ceremony. They fielded questions from the media and held their glittering fists to the flashing cameras so everyone could get a look at this:
You may recall the celebratory rap led by running back Andre Brown after the game – “We got a ring! We got a ring!” – which, of course, immediately went viral on YouTube. That’s right, folks. It’s all about the bling, even for the toughest dudes on the planet.
Once the domain of college ring producers such as Jostens, who designed the Packers championship rings after they won the Super Bowl last year, the craze for lavish pro-sports championship rings now has every big-name jeweler from hip Hollywood designers to the venerable Tiffany & Co. vying to put a ring on it – the biggest ring on the planet.
Championship ring designers tell me it’s not unusual for a professional ball player to have a finger twice the size of the average man’s. As you can see by these photos, that requires a lot of diamonds, including, for the Giants this year, four marquise (football-shaped) diamonds – and, as a new twist, 37 sapphires.
“The Giants are Big Blue,” explained quarterback Eli Manning, who provided input on the design. “We definitely wanted to get a little blue to spark it up a little bit.”
“Big Blue Wrecking Crew” was actually the nickname for the defensive line fronted by Lawrence Taylor who helped lead the team to Super Bowl glory in 1987 and 1991. Taylor’s son just sold the Super Bowl ring his father gave him via online auction (pictured below) for $230,401 on an estimate of $75-100 thousand. The buyer was obviously paying for pedigree rather than intrinsic value. The 1991 version looks like a class ring compared to this year’s.
As with the New Orleans Saints’ Super Bowl rings (right) they designed in 2010, Tiffany has, once again, managed to produce a relatively elegant ring while incorporating a ludicrous amount of design elements, mostly letters and numbers. Along with the four Lombardi trophies on top, there’s a sapphire-bordered logo. Yet another trophy is engraved on the side, along with the words Giants, NYC NFL, the score (21-7), and Super Bowl XLVI. The other side of each ring has the player’s name and jersey number.
Coach Tom McLoughlin, who provided design input along with general manager Jerry Reese and team captains Eli Manning, Justin Tuck and Zak DeOssie, said the words engraved inside the shank – “in it” and “finish” – carry particular emotional impact for him and the players, given the poor start they had to the season. (The Giants set a new record for the lowest-scoring regular season by a Super Bowl champion.)
Designing a ring crammed with that much data (and enough bling to top those other Super Bowl rings) takes massive amounts of gems and gold – white in this case – at a time when gold is selling for nearly $1,600 per ounce. Given some players wear a size 20 ring, that can come to three ounces, more than $4,800 worth of metal – close to the $5,000 total the National Football League pays for each Super Bowl ring.
The NFL shells out $1,125,000 every year for Super Bowl championship rings – $750,000 to the winning team and $375,000 to the losers. That covers the cost of 150 rings for each team – one for each player and one for the main woman in their lives – wife, girlfriend or mom.
Tiffany picks up the tab for the remainder, I’m told, in exchange for the right to sell other Giants-related memorabilia. Right now, on Tiffany’s website, you can find crystal tumblers, football- and helmet-shaped paperweights, and sterling key rings, cufflinks, and money clips – all with the Giants logo.
As the recent sale of Lawrence Taylor’s ring proves, you can even buy a Tiffany-designed Super Bowl ring if you have patience and deep pockets. But the current Giants probably aren’t thinking about selling theirs yet. They’re too busy fantasizing about the next ring.
“I think the second ring makes you that much more hungrier because you get there the first time, you are in awe. You are like, ‘Oh God, this might not ever happen again,'” said defensive end Justin Tuck, referring to the Tiffany ring he wears from the 2008 Super Bowl. “And then you win a second one, and you are like, ‘Hey, maybe we can do something here.'”
“This is a great piece of hardware on our hand right now,” Giants safety Antrel Rolle said at the Super Bowl ring ceremony. “But we can always have more rings.”
Some AP reporting was used for this post.