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Class rings for high school and college students alike have been a long-standing tradition for many years. However, unlike twenty or thirty years ago, today's class rings are unique and a wonderful way to remember a special time.
Class ring manufacturers offer several ring types, gem stone colors, mascots, inscription options and more. No longer are class ring shoppers limited to the one participating company that arrives at the school's doorstep. Students can now choose from the company they want, offering class rings at the right price, by simply shopping and designing online.
Tuesday, January 26th
Dunham Manufacturing is a jewelry maker based in El Paso, Texas that has been doing business for 20 years. Dunham offers customized class rings for high school and junior high graduates, grade school students and even kindergarten kids! They also offer customized rings for other interests and professions such as military, law enforcement, sports teams, federal agencies and rings bearing family crests. They have just entered the college rings market but currently only customize to a handful of universities.
The website is a little less polished and sleek than some of the other class ring companies we have reviewed. The main page is set up in a basic horizontal and vertical menu style, with the same options across the top and down the left side. These options are the various categories of rings you can purchase (such as high school, military, and so on). The customer selects the category and then the basic style of the ring they want. There are 7 main styles for high school rings, but after selecting the main style there are several variations offered on each main style so there are a good number of types of rings to be found.
The customizability of the rings depends on what style was chosen. The cheapest rings don't have any customization of the side panels. Customers can choose the type of metal they want, three initials to be engraved on the inside of the ring and the year they want engraved. The more expensive rings offer customizable side panels where customers can choose from a fairly large list of options. The interface here was a little clunky but in searching through the categories and subcategories there really are a great number of options to choose from. Pricing is very competitive and we found you could get a similar ring at Dunham for less than some of the other ring manufacturers we have reviewed.
Dunham has earned an A+ rating from the better business bureau and every consumer review we read was more positive than the last. Customers of Dunham manufacturing report helpful, friendly customer service, delivery times significantly faster than the 6 weeks promised on the website, timely correction of any errors, superb detail and excellent value. Dunham also has a full money back guarantee where customers can return their product within 10 days if they don't like it for any reason. It is clear Dunham is a reputable company that places customer service high on their priority list.
We really like Dunham for their pricing, commitment to customer service and quality of product, but we would have liked to see college rings as an option and the website could use a little modernization. Still, anyone in the market for a well-made, reasonably priced class ring should give Dunham consideration. Overall, we give Dunham our top ranking because they have customization options as extensive as the other major class ring specialists and greater than the jewelry stores, with better consumer reviews and reputation.
Balfour has been making class rings for almost 100 years and they are one of the most recognizable names in the school jewelry industry. They offer a huge selection of fully customizable rings for High School, College and even replicas of championship rings for favorite sports teams. Additionally, Balfour others many other products geared towards High School or College graduation. There are options here to purchase customized graduation announcements, thank you notes, name cards, memory books, clothing such as t-shirts, hats and flip-flops, letter jackets and yearbooks. Balfour is a one-stop shopping option for anyone in the market for graduation gear.
The website is modern and attractive looking. The main page has full color pictures and links to all the various categories of items you can purchase, and a box where you can search for a particular school by name, town or zip code. The process for selecting and customizing a class ring is easy as the website guides you through a step by step process. First you select from a large assortment of ring styles and metal types. There are 17 styles available for men and 21 for women, and 3 different types of metal (yellow gold, white gold and celestrium).
The website guides users to select from 16 colors and 5 different cuts for the main stone. After this, users are able to select from a staggering array of designs to adorn the two sides of the rings. The options here are almost limitless. There are hundreds of options covering dozens of categories from sports to academics, music, pride, and school spirit...nearly anything you can think of. Interestingly the website also offers an online version of its traditional paperback brochure, which we thought was a nice feature as it allows users to flip through the pages and quickly identify the options they want.
Prices are competitive with other similar class ring companies, if a little on the high end. Designs start at $149.95 and range up to $429.95 in the three basic metal options. There are some modest fees for some of the additional features such as extra lines of engraving and care packages, but most of the options are included in the cost. There is a significant cost increase if a higher grade of metal is desired, we found the 18k gold option could go well past $1,000 but this is to be expected because of the higher grade material.
Balfour says it takes 6-8 weeks from the time of order for customers to receive their rings. We found many testimonials online however of customers receiving their rings well in advance of that timeframe, some as early as 2 weeks after placing the order. Unfortunately, we also found an some consumer complaints citing unhelpful and rude customer service experiences, flaws in the product and poor results of ring repair. Balfour does issue a guarantee that all rings will be free from defect on delivery and will make repairs at no charge.
There is a lot to like with Balfour, particularly with the huge amount of custom options, but a few concerns with reports of questionable service and repair issues that kept them out of the top spot.
Jostens is one of the more recognizable names in the school jewelry and memorabilia space, and is a huge presence in this market. Jostens has 13 facilities across North America including several in Canada making it one of the biggest companies in this market. They are widely known for their production of customizable high school and college rings, but like some of the other larger players in this market they also offer a variety of other products related to graduation. These include yearbooks, announcements and cards, school apparel, caps and gowns and other types of jewelry such as tags and pendants. Jostens also offers rings for other professions like police and military, as well as rings for sports championships and even fantasy sports.
The Jostens website is attractive, modern looking and easy to navigate, but some of the features were a little less user friendly compared to some other sites we have visited. Customers pick their school at the top of the first page and then the site directs them to choose from the high-level categories like clothing and jewelry. Choosing class jewelry, we were directed to a page with 126 different options. Here we see men's rings, women's rings, as well as pendants, tags and other jewelry options for the selected school all mixed in one list. Users can sort by price and there is a filter on the side to narrow the search by gender or ring style. This allows users to find what they are looking for, but the interface was a bit harder to organize that other sites we reviewed.
There are no bargain options at Jostens. We sorted the class rings and the very cheapest option started at $192. This is more than the bargain option at most of the other school rings companies we have reviewed. Still, as we reviewed the other options most of the rings seemed reasonably competitively with the other large school jewelry companies, perhaps a bit on the high side depending on the options. For example, when we chose the 18k gold option on one of the basic ring types the price shot up to $1500, higher than other 18k gold rings we have seen.
We really like the customizability interface here. Once a customer chooses a ring type and stone, Jostens patented Design-a-Side program allows users to select from a predictably enormous list of designs for the two side panels of the ring. As users select the options, a picture of the ring is updated real time, so they can see exactly what the ring will look like. This was a nice feature we hadn't seen at many of the other similar sites.
As with most of the other custom ring makers, Jostens promises a delivery time of 6-8 weeks from time of order. We did see some reviews that said the product arrived sooner than 6 weeks, but we also saw some negatives reviews from Jostens customers.
Nelle and Lizzy is a niche company specializing in personalized mother's jewelry, which was started in 2004 by two friends in Fort Worth, Texas. They have a huge selection of interesting and uniquely designed jewelry in several untraditional categories. For example, the mothers ring section features rings customizable by how many children the mother has. The featured product here is the stackable, hand-stamped band; really three interwoven bands with a customized stamp around each ring. There are wedding rings, rings for bridesmaids, promise rings, valentine's rings and even rings celebrating cancer survivors. There are also other products here like customizable bracelets and necklaces.
The website is fairly standard looking and features a basic menu driven search process with the available categories along the top of the page. We found the class rings section under the rings category as expected, but there are only 3 options to choose from here. There are no traditional class rings with cut stones, side panel art and engravings like we see from the traditional class ring companies. Instead Nelle and Lizzy offer their featured stackable bands, which can just so happen to be hand-stamped with some kind of class or school notation.
The double stacked ring is $86 and the tripled stamped ring is $118. There is also a three-letter monogramed graduation ring, and a single band with a stone. For each of these options users can type in 12 characters to have hand-stamped on the band. For example, the three-band option could have the students name on one band, the school name on another and the year of graduation on the third.
Nelle and Lizzy have been featured on Oprah, the Today show and in several publications, such as Parents Magazine and Family Circle. They offer free shipping for orders of $75 or more and testimonials are universally positive. Custom orders are shipped within 15 days according to the website, and this is a lot quicker than most of the other customizable class rings we have seen.
We like everything we see about Nelle and Lizzy as a company, and the class ring product is unique, reasonably priced and very attractive. The problem is when it comes to class rings you either want the product they offer or not, there are no choices. However, not everyone is looking for a traditional class ring and may appreciate these as a unique option.
Everyone knows Walmart, the number one mega store in the United States. Walmart offers everything including, as it turns out, customizable class rings. The Walmart website is a standard online commerce website with no bells and whistles but easy enough to navigate and use. On the left side, there is a menu where users can select the department of Walmart they are looking for. To find class rings we had to go to the jewelry link, and then to personalized jewelry. It took a little searching to find the class rings among the huge number of departments Walmart has.
Once we selected class rings we see a standard product selection screen with about 50 options for customizable class rings. Users can sort by price or filter by metal type, gender, stone shape, ring style and brand. The prices here ranged from around $60 for the cheapest ring up to just over $1,000 for the most expensive option. One thing we do like about Walmart's online pricing is that the price for each option states a price range, representing the lowest and the highest price based on the custom options selected by the customer. So, if a customer sees a ring style they like, they don't have to go through the entire customization process to select, for example, 18k gold before they see what the upgrade will cost. Customers can expect ahead of time that if the range is $200-$900, the difference will be the options they choose during customization.
With that said, the customization process is quite clunky and limited. One the basic style of the ring is selected a series of dropdown menus appear to guide the user through the process of choosing their school, the type of stone, metal type, ring size and graduating class year. There are options to customize the side panel for any ring styles that have side panel art, but the selections are very limited compared to the class ring customizing specialists. Also, the picture of the product on the page as the user customizes their ring does not update to reflect the choices as some other sites do, which limits the ability of the customer to visualize the end result.
The selection of class rings at Walmart is average. The pricing structure and customization process is average as well. There is nothing particularly concerning our outstanding about Walmart's class ring product, which is why it lands in the middle of the pack in our reviews.
Zale's Jewelry stores can be found in malls all across America, and they are a familiar name in the world of retail jewelry. Zale's offers a huge assortment of jewelry, from necklaces to watches, earrings, bracelets and of course, rings. Part of the Zale's ring product line is customizable class rings.
The Zale's website, like the other jewelry stores we have reviewed in this category, is a basic no frills menu driven shopping site. Users select from a large number of categories and then navigate to the sub-category they are looking for. Under the rings category we found the link for class rings fairly quickly. The selection on the class rings page included 74 main styles of ring for men and women ranging from just under $100 to over $1300. The options are sortable by price and there are filters as expected where users can see the rings by gender, stone style, metal type, and ring size or price range.
The customization page is very basic and is less instructive than we would have liked. Instead of guiding the user through a step by step customization process, once the main style of ring is selected a list of drop down menus appear where the various choices are presented. The school name field is a manual input by the customer, as opposed from those sites that have extensive lists of schools to choose from. This allows for typing errors that could be carried over to the manufacturing of the product.
Users can choose stone color and cut, and select from a fairly small number of side panel art for any ring types that have side panels. There is no picture of the product that updates as the options are selected like we have seen with some of the other customization interfaces. Once the fields are all populated the user approves the ring design and it is added to the shopping cart website.
When it comes to class rings, Zale's is just another average jewelry store that offers a very basic and limited customization process. There are a decent number of options of ring styles and there is nothing specifically wrong with the product, it's just hard to get excited about the Zale's class ring offering when they are better options out there.
Limoges Jewelers is a jewelry seller that offers a custom class ring product online. Like Kay, Limoges does not specialize in class rings, but offers it as a part of their overall product line. There is actually a small section for graduation gifts on the class ring page yearbooks.
On the main Limoges website there is a link to their customizable class ring page. The look and feel of the page is a fairly standard web shopping page, with the number of items listed at the top and then filters and sort options for users to narrow down the options. On the class ring page, there are 185 different types of customizable class rings. This is a lot of options compared to some of the other class ring sites, and likely due to the larger inventory of jewelry that a company like Limoges has compared to the class ring specialists.
The cost at Dunham is quite low compared to most of the other class ring companies we reviewed. There are rings here for as low as $39.99 that can be customized with a basic text like the name of the school and the graduation year. The highest priced basic ring we saw was less than $400 so Limoges is catering to the bargain shoppers.
Perhaps one of the reasons the cost structure at Limoges is so low is due to the most basic customization system we have seen. Instead of selecting from a list of high schools and colleges provided on the website like we see at so many of the class ring specialists, the user manually types the name of the school into a text box. The image of the selected ring is on the left so you can see the text as it will appear on the ring, but we think this system is ripe for typos and mistakes that could make it to production of the ring.
For stone selection, the 12 birthstone options are available, but there is no option to select a certain cut of stone like so many other class ring sites offer. Then for any of the rings that offer side designs, we found the selection to be quite small. The basic sport and academic categories are there, but within each category we didn't see as many variations as we are used to seeing.
Most of the customized rings say they will ship in 6-8 weeks, which is fairly standard with personalized jewelry. We saw some consumer reviews saying their orders actually took longer than this, and some others that noted unhelpful customer service. Also, we saw more than one review complaining that the quality of the jewelry was low, and that errors were present in the orders on delivery.
Perhaps for anyone in the market for a low-cost class ring option should consider Limoges, but we can't recommend them very highly due to questionable quality and customer service, and a lackluster customization process.
Many of us remember the two different ring choices, male or female, in a small selection of metal types and one gem stone color. Today, one class ring company may offer 100 different looks with endless customization options. No matter what activities you want represented on your ring, the cost or look, the options are endless.
However, with a decent list of class ring provider's shoppers need to look closely at which company they put their faith in as there can be big difference between the shopping experience and outcome.
When selecting a class ring provider, you need to consider a few things. Some of these include:
TopConsumerReviews.com has reviewed and ranked the best Class Rings available today. We hope this information helps you find your class ring to treasure for years to come!
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