Winning the Super Bowl ring is everything

By JAY ST. PIERRE • Star Tribune | Photos courtesy of the NFL | Sources: Associated Press, NFL and ESPN

By JAY ST. PIERRE • Star Tribune
Photos courtesy of the NFL
Sources: Associated Press, NFL and ESPN

While the Vince Lombardi Trophy might be the star of the show after Sunday’s game, it’s the chance to earn “the ring” that often drives players. There have been 51 sets of Super Bowl rings made since 1967. Minneapolis-based Jostens has made 33 of them. With each ring comes a new design — and seemingly more diamonds. The first Super Bowl ring featured a single stone; last year’s had 283 of them. But no matter the bling factor, one thing remains the same: the meaning. “The ring really signifies why we play the game,” said former 49ers great and three-time Super Bowl winner Jerry Rice.

Super Bowl I • 1966 season

Packers coach Vince Lombardi and captains Bob Skoronski and Willie Davis worked with designers to create the first ring.

Super Bowl II • 1967 season

It cost about $1,900 apiece to make the Packers’ second ring. Adjusted for inflation, that’s more than $13,000 today.

Super Bowl III • 1968 season

This 14-karat gold ring is the first to contain the words “Super Bowl.” The game wasn’t called that until this season.

Super Bowl IV • 1969 season

The Chiefs beat the Vikings and became the first team to put the Lombardi Trophy on their ring. It also had 11 diamonds.

Super Bowl V • 1970 season

The Colts’ 10-karat gold ring bore their logo — in white gold and sapphires — surrounding a 1-carat diamond.

Super Bowl VI • 1971 season

Weighing about as much as a standard letter, this 14-karat white gold ring is the lightest ever created for the Super Bowl.

Super Bowl VII • 1972 season

Seventeen diamonds — the largest of them weighing in at a carat — adorn the ring the Dolphins earned after a 17-0 season.

Super Bowl VIII • 1973 season

Dolphins owner and onetime Minnesotan Joe Robbie wanted a ring similar to its predecessor — this one with twin diamonds.

Super Bowl IX • 1974 season

The Steelers engraved playoff scores on the side of this ring. Only problem: Jostens put the wrong score for their first game.

Super Bowl X • 1975 season

Pittsburgh followed up with a dual-stone design set in palladium. It was the element’s first use in a Super Bowl ring.

Super Bowl XI • 1976 season

The Raiders reviewed four designs before picking this football-focused finalist, after dropping the Vikings to 0-4 in Super Bowls.

Super Bowl XII • 1977 season

The Cowboys, like others, featured two diamonds on their second ring. Of course, that was in addition to 20 smaller stones.

Super Bowl XIII • 1978 season

The Steelers went one step further. For their third title, they used three ½-carat diamonds surrounded by 30 rocks.

Super Bowl XIV • 1979 season

Seeing a theme here? The Steelers went with a more understated four-diamond design for their fourth title. Each is a ½-carat.

Super Bowl XV • 1980 season

The Raiders were the first wild card to win a Super Bowl, and 19 diamonds in a football shape mark the games played to get there.

Super Bowl XVI • 1981 season

The design of the 49ers’ first ring was based on the Jets’ Super Bowl III ring, but the green was replaced with diamonds.

Super Bowl XVII • 1982 season

The NFL’s per-ring allowance was $2,400 in 1982. Washington spent more than double that on this 17-diamond ring.

Super Bowl XVIII • 1983 season

Try this on for size:  The Raiders’ heavyweight white-gold ring weighs about as much as a golf ball.

Super Bowl XIX • 1984 season

Montana topped Marino; to celebrate, the 49ers had marquee-cut stones made into trophies, a first for these rings.

Super Bowl XX • 1985 season

The size-23 ring the Bears gave to William “the Refrigerator” Perry is the largest fitting ever for a Super Bowl winner.

Super Bowl XXI • 1986 season

The Giants’ first title ring might look subdued, but it has 1.2 carats in diamonds, including a ¾-carat marquee-cut rock.

Super Bowl XXII • 1987 season

Washington was the first to pick Tiffany & Co., which also designed the Lombardi Trophy, to create the team’s title ring.

Super Bowl XXIII • 1988 season

The Bengals lost the big game to the 49ers for a second time. San Francisco put three marquee-cut stones in their third ring.

Super Bowl XXIV • 1989 season

One side of this 10-karat white gold ring says “88 Back to Back 89” to signify the 49ers’ consecutive championships.

Super Bowl XXV • 1990 season

Lawrence Taylor’s son put his dad’s ring up for auction in 2012. It sold for $230,000, more than double its estimated value.

Super Bowl XXVI • 1991 season

Minneapolis held its first Super Bowl, and the Redskins got their third title, again turning to Tiffany for their Super Bowl bling.

Super Bowl XXVII • 1992 season

This 55-diamond ring, at the time, held the most diamonds of any Super Bowl ring. Boy, how the times have changed.

Super Bowl XXVIII • 1993 season

Dallas’ back-to-back blowouts of Buffalo gave the Cowboys four titles and the Bills four Super Bowl losses in a row.

Super Bowl XXIX • 1994 season

After years of backing up Joe Montana, Steve Young led the 49ers to a fifth ring — the first franchise to reach that number.

Super Bowl XXX • 1995 season

This ring has a diamond weight of 5 carats, a first for the Super Bowl. The next 5-carat ring wasn’t for another eight years.

Super Bowl XXXI • 1996 season

Unlike the Packers’ first two rings, which featured more subtle designs, this ring is decked out with 115 diamonds.

Super Bowl XXXII • 1997 season

Denver beat Green Bay 31-24. To represent the 55 points scored, five diamonds were placed on each side of the logo on the face of the ring.

Super Bowl XXXIII • 1998 season

Though larger in size, this 4.04-carat diamond ring is less than the 4.65-carat version the Broncos gave out a year earlier.

Super Bowl XXXIV • 1999 season

The Rams gave more than half of the 200 rings they ordered to coaches and non-playing personnel after their victory.

Super Bowl XXXV • 2000 season

Brilliant-cut diamonds are made to maximize bling, so the Ravens ordered up 63 of them set in 18-karat gold to outline their logo.

Super Bowl XXXVI • 2001 season

The face of this ring has 42 diamonds around the Patriots logo. Those represent the team’s 42nd anniversary.

Super Bowl XXXVII • 2002 season

Oakland traded away coach Jon Gruden to Tampa Bay. The Bucs beat the Raiders in the Super Bowl to earn this Tiffany & Co. ring.

Super Bowl XXXVIII • 2003 season

New England won 15 games in a row to earn this ring; 32 diamonds — one for each NFL team — surround the Patriots logo.

Super Bowl XXXIX • 2004 season

Among the 124 diamonds in this Pats ring are 21 to represent the NFL’s longest win streak, a record that still stands.

Super Bowl XL • 2005 season

RB Jerome Bettis and QB Ben Roethlisberger helped design this Steelers ring, which nods to their previous four Super Bowl wins.

Super Bowl XLI • 2006 season

This white gold ring with 50 diamonds marked the Colts’ second title but the first since the team moved to Indy in 1984.

Super Bowl XLII • 2007 season

The Giants’ Michael Strahan called this Tiffany ring a “10-table stunner,” joking that it can be seen from 10 tables away.

Super Bowl XLIII • 2008 season

Six brilliant-cut diamonds mark each Steelers title; 14 others signify conference and division titles (seven each).

Super Bowl XLIV • 2009 season

The face of this ring features 44 diamonds to commemorate the 44th Super Bowl and the Saints’ 44th year as a franchise.

Super Bowl XLV • 2010 season

The “G” comprises 13 diamonds, one for each Packers NFL title; 92 other diamonds mark the team’s 92-year history.

Super Bowl XLVI • 2011 season

Giants  captains worked with Tiffany & Co. to ensure that this ring, unlike the 2007 version, had blue stones featured.

Super Bowl XLVII • 2012 season

This Ravens ring features 243 diamonds and has a stadium-style design. The “B” is made of 10-karat yellow gold.

Super Bowl XLVIII • 2013 season

The face of this Tiffany & Co. ring is flanked by 12 diamonds, representing Seattle’s 12th man; the sides feature “12” flags.

Super Bowl XLIX • 2014 season

It cost nearly $5.5 million to adorn the Patriots with these bling-heavy rings, which came in at a cool $36,500 apiece.

Super Bowl L • 2015 season

The side of this ring has 56 diamonds, marking the Broncos’ 56-year history. Stones along the bottom and top mark 15 wins in 2015.

Super Bowl LI • 2016 season

The largest Super Bowl ring is this 5.1-carat whopper with 283 diamonds to represent the Patriots’ 28-3 second-half deficit.