Super Bowl

Super Bowl Rings: Breaking Down Coolest Championship Rings of the Past 47 Years

Gabe ZaldivarPop Culture Lead WriterJanuary 28, 2014

Super Bowl Rings: Breaking Down Coolest Championship Rings of the Past 47 Years

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    Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports

    Hard work, pain and tremendous sacrifice will finally pay off for one lucky team that will take home all that comes with Super Bowl glory, including one piece of gorgeous jewelry. 

    By the time the Denver Broncos and Seattle Seahawks take the field in Super Bowl XLVIII, 47 prior teams will have taken on the daunting task that is the NFL season and its hard-hitting competitors, coming away with a Super Bowl title that means just about everything. 

    It's nearly impossible to encapsulate all the worthwhile celebration into something so small, but you might agree that some of the following Super Bowl rings nearly pull off that feat. 

    Of course, this is just one fan's idea of an unforgettable ring.

    In some cases, we found it pertinent to highlight the more refined and classic rings. In others, we might just like the cool backstory. Certainly, the other more audacious fare deserve recognition as well. 

    Really, when you slice just a sample from all 47 rings, you are going to miss a great deal of stunningly beautiful jewelry, so sound off on the ones you love that we may have missed in the comments section below. 

    For now, just enjoy some serious rings adorned with a healthy amount of ice. You might want to grab some sunglasses, because things are about to get bright in here. 

    Note: Unless otherwise noted, details procured from Hoffco-inc.com and NFL.com.

Super Bowl I

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    Score: Green Bay Packers 35, Kansas City Chiefs 10

    MVP: Bart Starr 

    It's always a little tricky to hammer down the approximate value of Super Bowl rings. Values at auction fluctuate thanks to bidders taking into account things like whom the ring belonged to. 

    A Market Wired report posited the first ring was valued at $20,419. Still, it's darn near priceless to those who earned it, namely former Packers lineman Jerry Kramer, who famously lost his ring in 1981. 

    As Matt Crossman, writing for Bleacher Report, recalls, Kramer left the first iteration featuring a lone diamond in the center on an airplane in 1981. 

    He had to wait until 2006 to find the ring when it popped up in an online auction. Thankfully, the auction house returned the ring that cost all of $750 to make at the time it was created. 

    As we go along, you will notice one stark reality: Rings only get more and more lavish as the years pass. Now, the NFL allots up to $5,000 for each ring

    Of course, there is nothing all that dazzling or remarkable about the design (at least compared to modern rings), but there is simply no way you can forget the first of anything. 

    Link to high-quality photo here

    (h/t to Jostens Instagram for image)

Super Bowl III

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    Score: New York Jets 16, Baltimore Colts 7

    MVP: Joe Namath

    The Jets took the third installment of the budding championship game, which would later feature a rare ring not designed and produced by Jostens. 

    Those duties went to L.G. Balfour, which created a ring that cost "more than $2,000 in 1969." 

    Presented in the clip is the story of John Schmitt, who lost the coveted ring on a beach in Waikiki a couple of years later. As KGMB-TV in Honolulu reported, good fortune saw fit to get Schmitt back his ring. 

    If you didn't believe the Jets were fated to win the Super Bowl, this story might very well change your mind. After 40 years, the ring found its rightful owner

    That's some Lord of the Rings stuff right there. 

    The reason we include it here is part fun story and part design. The ring manages to be understated and lavish at the same time, something some modern rings struggle to pull off. 

    Link to high-quality photo here

Super Bowl V

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    Photo Credit Walpurgis Twitter

    Score: Baltimore Colts 16, Dallas Cowboys 13

    MVP: Chuck Howley (Dallas)

    ESPN's Joe Wojciechowski breaks down some of the more intriguing details behind the fifth edition of the Super Bowl ring. 

    According to Ernie Accorsi, whom Wojciechowski interviewed, the ring was actually designed by then-general manager Don Klosterman. 

    While the square look to the ring wasn't a hit to Accorsi, he does enjoy the more iconic portion of the ring, specifically the Colts-blue sapphires that pepper the horseshoe. 

    While certainly not as ornate as future versions, the classy and refined look is one of my personal favorites of the early victors. 

    Many of you will be partial to the flashier version for the Colts' Super Bowl XLI triumph. Perhaps I'm just a sucker for sapphires. 

    Link to high-quality image here

    (h/t to Twitter user Walpurgis for image)

Super Bowl VI

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    Lenny Ignelzi/Associated Press

    Score: Dallas Cowboys 24, Miami Dolphins 3

    MVP: Roger Staubach

    L.G. Balfour was back on ring duty for the first of many rings that would eventually go to the Dallas Cowboys franchise. 

    This particular ring is special because it belongs to Lance Alworth. Now if you have been following along, you might guess why he was showing his ring off back in October 2013. 

    Yup, he lost it. 

    NFL.com reported at the time that the ring that was initially stolen at a San Diego-area restaurant in 1992 was later discovered when it went up for auction for a cool opening bid of $44,000. 

    "It's a miracle to have it back after all these years," Alworth said of the flashy ring that embodies the franchise quite well

    Any future champions know that while you should always keep an eye on your ring, somehow there is a great chance you will get it back if it's ever lost. 

    Link to high-quality image here.

Super Bowl VIII

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    Score: Miami Dolphins 24, Minnesota Vikings 7 

    MVP: Larry Csonka

    Comedy break

    The Miami Dolphins doubled down on Super Bowl titles in as many years, so in some respects, they have the exact ring you might imagine to celebrate that feat. 

    You can take a look at the ring that was reportedly designed for simplicity by Joe Robbie in the link below. However, the video posted shows the one cameo the ring made on film. 

    According to a report from ESPN's Greg Garber on Don Shula and his 1973 Super Bowl ring, the former Miami coach was asked to be in the movie but would only do it if the mailbox scene was shot early in the morning before work and if the mailbox was placed right in front of his house. 

    The world gets to see coach's iconic ring, and the Dolphins' leader was at work right on time. Judging by the size of the ring, we will just assume it had its own trailer. 

    Link to high-quality image here

Super Bowl IX

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    Photo Credit: Simon Winstanley Twitter

    Score: Pittsburgh Steelers 16, Minnesota Vikings 6

    MVP: Franco Harris 

    The Pittsburgh Steelers started things off with a style befitting their rough-and-tough sensibilities. A single one-carat diamond sits atop a dark, glassy complement of onyx. 

    The rest of the ring features the year, as well as the scores of the Steelers playoff games that led to the franchise's first title. 

    There is really nothing all that "pretty" about the ring, but I can't think of one that epitomizes a franchise any better. It's almost utilitarian but still extremely beautiful in its own right. 

    We also assume they check to make sure you have renewed your man card before you try it on. 

    Link to high-quality image here

    (h/t to Twitter user Simon Winstanley)

Super Bowl XI

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    Photo Credit: JG Twitter

    Score: Oakland Raiders 32, Minnesota Vikings 14

    MVP: Fred Biletnikoff 

    If you wanted to know how these bad boys sit on a hand, here is Otis Sistrunk's ring apparently on Twitter user J G's hand. Essentially, these rings are massive. 

    You could probably consider this the first ring to really embrace the ornate sensibilities we will see from here on out. The ring boasts a whopping 31 pennyweight and 27 diamonds

    If we can be so bold, it seems "bling" began in 1977. 

    Link to high-quality image here.

Super Bowl XV

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    George Rose/Getty Images

    Score: Oakland Raiders 27, Philadelphia Eagles 10

    MVP: Jim Plunkett 

    The 1980s would be very good to the Raiders. Incidentally, good fortune didn't care all that much about the Raiders' address, as the franchise collected two Super Bowl titles in as many cities during the decade. 

    Super Bowl XV's ring gets back to a far more flashy appearance, echoing the version we enjoyed commemorating the Raiders victory in Super Bowl XI. Absent is the rare inclusion of white gold, possibly mimicking the team's iconic silver-and-black theme. 

    And if you want battle wounds, take a gander at ESPN's image of Rod Martin's hand showing off this particular ring.  

    Link to high-quality image here.

Super Bowl XVI

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    Photo Credit: @D_Rogerss Twitter

    Score: San Francisco 49ers 26, Cincinnati Bengals 21

    MVP: Joe Montana 

    The 49ers understand that less is more when it comes to various designs, logos and symbols on the face of the franchise's first ring. 

    However, they also know that more is more when it comes to diamonds. If you are wondering, that is over "two carats of diamonds" adorning the gorgeous football that sits between the bold-lettered "San Francisco" and "World Champions."

    In a classy tribute to the city, the Golden Gate Bridge makes a cameo along one side of the ring. It's a fantastic way for the franchise to introduce itself to the gallery of rings. Of course, San Francisco would have more opportunities to make a bigger splash. 

    This particular image comes from Twitter user @D_Rogerss, who claims this is the actual ring belonging to former 49er Saladin Martin. 

    Link to high-quality image here.

Super Bowl XVII

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    Score: Washington Redskins 27, Miami Dolphins 17

    MVP: John Riggins 

    As Hoffco notes, the Redskins Super Bowl XVII ring is indeed gaudy. Even Floyd Mayweather Jr. would think this thing is a tad bit ostentatious.  

    As the report states, this was all part of the design. The team even went so far as to spend twice the "NFL's then-allowance of $2,400 per ring."

    What you get is well-represented in the replica video, a 17-diamond ring placed against a Redskins-red backdrop. It's like the Cadillac of Super Bowl rings. Well, it probably feels like you are wearing one at least. 

    Link to high-quality image here.

Super Bowl XXIX

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    Photo Credit: Joe Regas

    Score: San Francisco 49ers 49, San Diego Chargers 26

    MVP: Steve Young

    It's the end of an era, in more ways than one. 

    The cool thing about this Super Bowl ring, other than the five trophies represented rather brightly across the face, is that it symbolizes the 49ers' utter dominance during a relatively short period of time. 

    For our purposes, it's also a ring that incorporates some of the classic styles we have seen previously, and it also ushers in some of the rather brash Super Bowl jewelry we are about to enjoy. 

    All bets are off when it comes to jewels adorning rings from this point forward, and this seems like a very nice segue to illustrate that fact. 

    The image above features Steve Wallace's ring, via a post from Twitter user Joe Regas

    Link to high-quality image here.

Super Bowl XXXIII

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    Photo Credit: Dillon Tabish Twitter

    Score: Denver Broncos 34, Atlanta Falcons 19 

    MVP: John Elway 

    Traipsing into Sunday's Super Bowl, you can't help but think we are either going to get an emerald-laden ring for the Seahawks or the answer to whether you can stuff three Broncos heads onto the face of a very big ring. 

    For those who don't already know, you might be thinking that there looks to be a hefty amount of ice plastering this not-so-humble trinket. 

    Like we said, the diamonds seem to flow like beer at your respective Super Bowl soiree as we get up in years. There is a grand total of "120 diamonds, totaling 4.04 karats" on this ring commemorating the Broncos' back-to-back triumph, via Hoffco

    (Image via Dillon Tabish's Twitter)

    Link to high-quality image here.

Super Bowl XXXVI

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    SEVANS/Associated Press

    Score: New England Patriots 20, St. Louis Rams 17

    MVP: Tom Brady

    Being a Rams fan, I can safely say this particular Super Bowl brings up some not-so-wonderful emotions. But hey, nice ring. 

    Some might be more fond of the Super Bowl XXXVIII ring the Patriots would win a couple of years later, but I think this one features a somewhat bolder aesthetic. 

    And by bold, we mean 143 diamonds taking up a wide swath as opposed to that meager 104 used after their next title. 

    Link to high-quality image here.

Super Bowl XLIII

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    JOSTENS/Associated Press

    Score: Pittsburgh Steelers 27, Arizona Cardinals 23

    MVP: Santonio Holmes

    It's easy to recall one of the more memorable Super Bowl finishes to be played recently. Well, you simply can't forget the ring that celebrates the victors, either. 

    Like the first night you arrive in Las Vegas, you find there are almost too many things catching your eye. In this case, the Steelers once again nod to their hypocycloids as they did in 1978, but in a far more colorful manner for their latest win. 

    If the rare use of color doesn't grab you, perhaps the six big diamonds representing titles will.

    Link to high-quality image here.

Super Bowl XLIV

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    Patrick Semansky/Associated Press

    Score: New Orleans Saints 31, Indianapolis Colts 17

    MVP: Drew Brees

    You might get tired of hearing it, but modern Super Bowl rings seem hellbent on stuffing as many diamonds into the tiniest portion of real estate as possible. 

    While all are attractive in their own right, some teams manage to pull off something that remains stunning without being pretentious. 

    For me, that ring is the New Orleans Saints ring shown here, featuring all of 44 diamonds meant to honor the 44 Super Bowl games that had been played. 

    Instead of one giant diamond to signify the win, the Saints chose a simple, but hardly humble, fleur-de-lis, making this one of the more suitable rings on the list. 

    Link to high-quality image here.

Super Bowl XLV

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    Mike Roemer/Associated Press

    Score: Green Bay Packers 31, Pittsburgh Steelers 25

    MVP: Aaron Rodgers 

    You can have it all, it seems, when customizing your Super Bowl ring. Winning a title hardly means you will get frugal hardware to show off to fans. 

    Scout.com's Bill Huber has quite a remarkable report that relays just how stone-studded this particular ring truly is: 

    While team President/CEO Mark Murphy, McCarthy and general manager Ted Thompson were the ring’s principal designers, they sought input from the team’s captains before the lockout started. Murphy joked that the players’ input centered on “big” and “bling.” They certainly got their wish. The ring features almost 120 diamonds totaling 3.35 karats. The Packers’ “G” logo is cast from 18-karat gold, with 13 diamonds — one for each NFL championship — filling the “G.” Surrounding the logo are 92 more diamonds to mark the franchise’s 92-year history. In each corner are four marquis-cut diamonds that represent the four Super Bowl championships.

    We are only sad the players didn't ask for an espresso machine with each ring, because it sounds like the Packers would have darn near tried to cram that onto this thing as well. 

    Link to high-quality image here.

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