Although school rings are a popular high school tradition, colleges also have class rings. Originally, every class chose its own ring design. The earliest rings in the Archives are from 1874. This ring features gold sides with a stylized “W” in the center set with turquoise stones. It bears no resemblance to later versions. For instance, the class of 1922 picked an all-gold ring with a square top, while 1923’s class opted for one with a gold seal set into a square onyx top. Unfortunately, the seals on many of these broke off over time. The class of 1928 chose a heavy silver ring with the seal set on a blue synthetic lapis top. The sides are decorated with pinecones and branches. The class of 1935, however, suggested creating a standard College ring and, therefore, a cohesive identity to alumnae jewelry boxes.
With the consent of the student body, a committee of administrators, alumnae, and students formed to evaluate options and chose the final design. The committee examined the pros and cons of previous rings. Many alumnae reported no longer wearing rings that contained synthetic stones as their taste matured away from “costume jewelry”. On the other hand, students felt that the cost of a real blue stone would be too prohibitive to their typically shoestring budgets. The committee worried that without a stone their options would look too much like high school rings. Sample after sample was brought in, evaluated, and rejected until someone suggested they ask Georg Jensen to create a design.
Jensen, a famed Danish silversmith, specialized in flower and berry motifs on his creations. Working from a photograph of the College’s seal and a copy of the Alma Mater, Jensen created a design for a silver ring, embellished with pine cones and maple pods. The Wilson seal sat on a square top, outlined in blue enamel. The 1934 Billboard stated, “The whole effect is very modern and much more feminine than that of the rings of former years”. Jensen’s ring cost students $10. Wilson’s ring bears the distinction of being the only college ring Jensen ever designed.
Today, these original Jensen rings are donated by alumnae who want to pass on their piece of College history. The Ring-it-Forward program is a way to support and foster the emotional ties and traditions of the College for alumnae and students. The program matches donated rings with current students and, on occasion, active alums.