Archive for November, 2013

Chane Behanan’s Final Four ring found on auction site; was it stolen?

November 29, 2013


University of Louisville basketball player Chane Behanan’s 2012 Final Four ring was removed from auction Wednesday morning by Grey Flannel, a leading sports memorabilia seller, at the Behanan family’s request.

Behanan's Louisville NCAA Championship Ring


“We have been informed by Chane’s mother that this NCAA Final Four ring was indeed stolen from the Behanan family,” Grey Flannel’s website reads. “This lot has been removed from the sale. Please place no bids.”

Three bids had previously been accepted on the ring, pushing the sale above $600 with more than 14 days remaining.

When reached by phone by The Courier-Journal, a Grey Flannel representative swiftly declined comment at mention of Behanan’s name. Reached again regarding seller information and Grey Flannel’s verification process, the auctioneer disconnected a call.

Behanan posted to his Facebook page Tuesday evening that he did not sell the ring, and U of L athletic department spokesman Kenny Klein said Wednesday morning he’s checking into the matter.

Opened in 1989, Grey Flannel touts itself as “the industry leader in sports memorabilia auctions and sports memorabilia appraisals.” The auctioneer is also the official appraiser and authenticator for the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.

The original Grey Flannel posting sparked a social media stir Tuesday evening in the wake of punishments to Ohio State football players by the NCAA in 2010. It was the sale of championship rings, jerseys and Ohio State memorabilia for cash that earned the Buckeyes a bowl ban and led to former coach Jim Tressel’s eventual dismissal from the program.

Per a September 2010 Sports Illustrated report about Georgia receiver A.J. Green’s suspension for sales of his jersey, the NCAA instituted rules against student-athletes selling their gear while in still in school after Georgia players sold their 2002 Southeastern Conference Championship rings.

A more recent case, from just earlier this month, saw Oregon basketball players suspended nine games apiece for selling team shoes given to them by their school.

Grey Flannel described the mint condition ring as a size 11 with the inside stamped “©YLTM” along with the Josten’s brand “J.” It’s also engraved with Behanan’s name, number, a Big East Conference championship logo and the Cardinals’ record that season: 30-10 after the Final Four loss to Kentucky in New Orleans.

Behanan started this season under indefinite suspension for an undisclosed violation of team rules and school policy. He missed one regular-season game and has since come off the bench to average 8.6 points and 6.2 rebounds.


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Justin Tuck Gives Cowboys Fans Virtual Middle Finger, Shows Off Super Bowl Rings After Giants’ Frustrating Loss

November 26, 2013


The Cowboys may have gotten the last laugh on Sunday, but the Giants are the still the ones laughing all the way to the jeweler.

Justin Tuck New York Giants Super Bowl Rings


Giants defensive lineman Justin Tuck wasn’t too happy about the 24-21 loss on Sunday, or with Cowboys fans in general, and he made his frustrations quite clear on Monday morning. Tuck was getting inundated with hate from Cowboys fans, which is likely a trend throughout the season, after the loss on Sunday. He became so fed up with the comments, though, that he decided to send the annoying haters a message — and it was received loud and clear.

Tuck tweeted out a photo of his two Super Bowl rings sitting on the finger display case in his house. However, the rings’ positioning on the three-finger display set appeared to be sending a slightly different message to Cowboys fans, as well.


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Jostens Agrees to Buy Rival Balfour

November 20, 2013


Jostens, the largest manufacturer of championship rings is looking for a larger share of that business.

2009 Yankee Ring


The company has agreed to buy a rival, the American Achievement Group, which sells rings, jackets and other commemorative paraphernalia, according to an announcement on Tuesday. The price was not disclosed, but a person briefed on the matter said it was about $500 million.

American Achievement, which sells its products under brands like Balfour, ArtCarved and Keepsake, is owned by the private equity firm Fenway Partners.

The deal is expected to close by the second quarter of next year. Jostens, based in Minneapolis, also has private equity parents: It is a subsidiary of the Visant Corporation, which is owned by Kohlberg Kravis Roberts and a buyout unit of Credit Suisse.

“The combined company will be better positioned to maximize sales opportunities and capture operating efficiencies while better serving a growing customer base,” Steven Parr, the president and chief executive of American Achievement, said in a statement. “Jostens is the ideal partner to help preserve American Achievement’s rich history while simultaneously facilitating continued growth.”

Balfour has made Yankee Rings and many other championship rings over the last 50 years, hopefully Jostens will continue to manufacture rings under that historic name.


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Former Sooner Baseball Player Reunited With 1951 Championship Ring

November 19, 2013


A ring commemorating an Oklahoma Sooner National Championship in baseball from 1951 is back with its owner after being lost for decades.

1951 Oklahoma Sooner National Championship Ring


Charles Pugsley, 89, played on the title winning team.

“I knocked the winning run in when we won the championship,” says Pugsley, about the tournament held in Omaha, Nebraska.

Over the years, Pugsley and his wife raised a family, had careers and forgot about his championship ring.

The former centerfielder and World War II veteran had no idea when or where he had misplaced the ring. He told News 9, it was probably gone for at least 40 years.

This weekend, the Pugsleys are holding an estate sale at their OKC home. Matt McNeil, who is organizing the sale, found the ring a few days ago after going through all the items for sale. The ring had managed to get under some shelving paper covering a drawer on a dresser.

“I lifted it up, because I always throw away the shelf paper…and there it was,” says McNeil.

Pugsley is forever grateful to have the ring back and now sleeps with it on his finger.

“I have to sleep with my hand closed so it won’t fall off,” says Pugsley. “It is the greatest reminder of the greatest days of my life.”


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Want to Collect Rings? Here’s How to Get into the Game at Any Level

November 12, 2013


Do you feel that collecting championship rings is beyond your budget? Not true – the financial hurdle might be lower than you think. There are numerous ways to collect rings that won’t crush your savings.

collecting championship rings


Here are some options and strategies to get you started in ring collecting.

Replicas
Most replicas are manufactured in China and are priced at $50-$150. The quality varies greatly; some aren’t too impressive, while others are beautiful and accurate reproductions of authentic rings. These rings are ideal for displaying but not recommended for wearing. If you decide to wear them, be warned – the yellow gold-plating will come off, the metal may oxidize and pit and/or the replica glued-in diamonds can fall out.

It’s puzzling why sports leagues and ring manufacturers such as Jostens and Balfour allow replica rings to flood eBay, but the reality is they are readily available.

authentic and replica championship rings
Pictured: Authentic rings on the left, inexpensive replicas on the right.



A step up are replicas made of 10K gold. These rings are usually better quality.

However, an important concern is do you really know what you are buying? Is the seller going to stand behind the purchase? Can you be certain the ring is solid gold and not made with a gold layer on top of low-cost metal? If you go this route, rings can be found for around $2,000.

College and minor league rings
The quality of college and minor league rings will be higher than a replicas. Typically, they’re made by Jostens or Balfour, which means you’re getting a product from the same companies that produce many of the ultra high-end championship rings.

Because of the high cost of gold, newer college rings are no longer made of solid gold. College rings awarded prior to the last few years are made of 10K gold and will cost more than newer non-gold versions.

low cost authentic college and minor league rings
Pictured is a selection of low-cost college and minor league rings.


Most minor league rings are made of solid gold, but not all. Stay away from rings without the manufacturer’s markings and make sure to have a jeweler test it to verify a “10K” stamped ring is really made of 10K gold.

Minor league teams usually contain a small diamond or diamonds, while college rings always have cubic zirconias (imitation diamonds).

A 10K college or minor league ring can set you back $700-$1,750. National championship collegiate rings in football and basketball are the most desirable and will start around $2,000 and sometimes reach $4,000.

Newer college rings, made of non-gold materials will cost around $1,000-$1,500, and the National Championship versions will sell for around $3,000.

Salesman samples
Jostens and Balfour employ independent sales associates who primarily sell rings to high school and college students. These associates obtain salesman sample rings to show off and impress their clients and prospects. These rings are not supposed to be resold but do occasionally find their way into the hobby.

Be warned: Many of the “salesman sample” rings available are high quality fakes. One unscrupulous dealer has partnered with a small U.S. ring manufacturer and makes high quality fakes. This dealer puts counterfeit engravings inside the ring to make detection of this sham very difficult.

Compounding the challenge in buying salesman samples is that some auction houses and dealers describe questionable offerings as “samples” or “salesman samples.”

As collectors have gotten burned from these shenanigans, the demand for salesman sample rings has fallen and so have prices.

Lately, some auction houses such as Leland’s have led the charge to rid the hobby of bad rings and have adopted a policy of no longer selling any salesman sample rings.
I would advise staying away from salesman samples, as 50 percent of what I see in the marketplace is counterfeit or highly questionable.

Salesman samples, when made of solid gold and imitation diamonds, used to sell for around $5,000. In today’s market these rings sell for about $2,500.


Professional rings – entry level
Collecting rings from the four major professional sports can be achieved without taking out a second mortgage. Here’s what you need to know.

Teams that have lost the World Series or Super Bowl also receive rings. These rings, while not as large or diamond-studded as the winning versions, are highly collectible and generally sell for approximately 50 percent less than the winning versions.

Another option to obtain a ring at a lower price is to buy front office rings. A recent trend has been awarding front office employees “B” or sometimes “C” level rings. The “B” and “C” rings are smaller versions of championship rings. Sometimes they have cubic zirconias instead of real diamonds and may also be made of non-gold materials. Team ownership has complete discretion when awarding “B” and “C” versions. Sometimes the size and material drop off is huge, other times there is no drop off. The Yankees bucked this trend in 2009, awarding around 200 rings to employees that were the same exact size and quality diamonds that the players received.

players rings vs. front office rings
A player’s Super Bowl XXXIX ring made of 14k gold and real diamonds is shown on the left, with the front office version made of non-gold and imitation diamonds on the right.


Every situation is different, but “B” and “C” versions can sell anywhere from $3,500-$15,000, depending upon such factors as size, rarity, team popularity and how close they resemble the player’s version.

If you are looking for the same version ring that players received, you can still save money by acquiring an executive, coach or scout ring. Typically these rings are the same size as player rings but sell for 10-50 percent less since the original owner was not on the team roster.

Players’ rings
Here’s where it gets quite expensive. Players’ rings can go for anywhere from $10,000 and up. Rings belonging to legendary players such as Julius Erving ($460,000) and Lawrence Taylor ($230,000) have hit the stratosphere.

A marginal player’s ring will go for far less money than a star’s. Most player rings sell in the $10,000-$30,000 range. Newer rings with much more bling tend to sell higher. Historic situations such as the Packers Super Bowl I victory or the Brooklyn Dodgers 1955 World Series championship can result in even higher prices.

Don’t let the high cost of top-tier rings discourage you from starting a ring collection. No matter your budget, you can acquire, collect and display some amazing rings!

Want to see every winning and runner-up Super Bowl ring? Those and other championship rings from all sports can be viewed at www.sports-rings.com.


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