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A History of Class Rings
Class rings have been, traditionally, a way to show your school spirit and document important successes of your years. Traditionally, they are a great way to show your relationship with peers and groups. But the symbolism and relevance of the class ring has changed with time, and it has new meanings in modern times with new generations.
Let’s look at a history of class rings first.
If we focus on rings used to symbolize or indicate affiliation to a certain group, class rings can be traced all the way back to ancient Egypt, where sects used matching rings to show their cause, religion or class.
As with many Egypcian traditions, this one was fully embraced by the Romans. Some records indicate that Cleopatra gave Mark Antony a rings as a gift. He was so fascinated with the ring that he had similar ones made for his Praetorian Guard, which spread the tradition of fellowship rings within military sectors.
The modern history of the class ring starts in 1835, when cadets at the United States Military Academy in West Point, New York, were given class rings as a symbol of morals, values and pride for being a part of the best military school in the country. Class rings then became popular in the United States and then all of North America, until becoming a symbol of pride and accomplishment throughout virtually every high school and college.
Throughout the centuries, the importance of the ring expanded to what we know today as a wide variety of rings, symbolizing all things from marital status to professions and even sports championships among athletes.
Championship rings and class rings have gained special significance in modern times, with sports fans using the amount of rings an athlete has as an argument for their legendary status, to schools and universities creating unique rings to give a sense of status to their graduates, as is the case with St. Francis Xavier University in Canada with their distinguishable ‘X’ shaped class rings.
With the modern mentality of new generations and the ability to customize rings far more than previous generations, class rings take on more special meanings. They are a symbol of a student’s fondest memories, friendships and support from loved ones throughout challenging although rewarding years.
Class rings are traditionally worn on the ring finger of the right hand. If the person is still enrolled in classes, the school insignia should be faced inward, facing the wearer, to then be switched with the insignia facing outwards upon graduation.