The first class rings were made for cadets at the United States Military Academy at West Point in 1835. In 1897, the first high school class rings were made. Five female friends in Minnesota wanted to have a ring made so they would never forget the friendships and good times they shared in high school.
"The tradition continues today," said Wendell Samson, a Jostens representative for 67 schools in West Virginia.
Jostens started the tradition of class rings, making the first one in 1897. Other companies have jumped into the industry in the last 30 to 40 years.
"A class ring is many things," Samson said. "It's your story. [It] symbolizes your commitment to your education [and will] always tie you to a time, a place and group of people; the memories that ring will bring back are priceless.
"Every time I wear my 1989 Winfield High School class ring, I smile," he added. "A flood of great memories come back to me immediately. That's what a class ring is."
In the schools Samson represents, 45 percent of students purchase class rings. The national average is about 27 percent. He said it's about 50/50 when it comes to which gender is more likely to buy a class ring, and when it comes to grade, he mostly sees sophomores buying them.
"The reason behind that is to give the student plenty of time to enjoy the pride of wearing a class ring," he said.
Class rings unite classmates because they show that you went to school together, but they are also completely unique. With Jostens, for instance, there are around 90 different styles of rings to choose from. Couple that with almost 1,000 different side panels and hundreds of stone options, and you could create literally thousands of different rings.