The Super Bowl ring saga, 54 years in the making, will surely generate another round of stories surrounding the jewels and gems that comprise the championship ring given to the winners of this year’s game.
Make no mistake, professional athletes love it when they crest the mountain and achieve something nobody can take away from them as championships – it’s a moniker that lasts forever.
As former New York Giants head coach Bill Parcells put it, in an after game speech when his team won the Super Bowl,
“For the rest of your life, don’t let anybody ever tell you that you couldn’t do it, because you did it.”
When an NFL team does win the Super Bowl, it’s immediately handed the Lombardi Trophy, signifying championship status in one of the most prestigious professional sports leagues in the world. (For the record, the Lombardi Trophy cost $50,000 to make, and usually sits in the team owner’s office, although each team member gets a replica Lombardi Trophy worth $1,400.)
The Super Bowl champion team also earns a ring for every player, coach and owner, along with assorted team executives and staff. While the ring itself has substantial financial value, it’s the act of putting the championship ring on a finger and signifying you’re a Super Bowl winner for life that seals the deal for NFL players.
"It means everything,” said Fred Biletnikoff, who won the 1976 Super Bowl with the Oakland Raiders in a recent interview with ESPN. “After all the years of being so close and all the conference championship games, to all of a sudden have everything go right and we break through and win the whole thing? That ring means a lot.”
"With what we went through, with all the heartbreak and crazy plays, there's a lot of pride. Nobody can take it away."
The Estimated Value of a Super Bowl Ring
While players, coaches and team executives have every reason to be proud when donning a Super Bowl ring, there is a financial value attached.
According to the NFL (which helps pay for the rings), the average total team cost for an estimated 150 Super Bowl rings is $5 million. That figure can and does vary, but financial experts say the per-ring value also depends on who gets the ring, as that value can increase when a superstar holds a Super Bowl ring.
“The value of a ring depends on a few factors such as the condition and who the ring was issued to,” says Simon Nowak, chief executive at 3 Credit Scores and an avid sports memorabilia collector. “Most Super Bowl rings are valued between $30,000 and $50,000, but if the ring was issued to a superstar, the value rises significantly. For example, a ring that belonged to Hall of Fame player Lawrence Taylor sold for over $230,000.”
According to Nowak, the time factor also has a significant impact on the future value of a Super Bowl ring. “The Green Bay Packers won the first two Super Bowls,” he says. “Packers' player Steve Wright's Super Bowl I ring sold for over $70,000 and teammate Fred Thurston's ring from Super Bowl II sold for about $50,000.”
The price of those rings when they were presented? That first Super Bowl ring earned by the Packers, which only had a single gemstone, was made for an estimated $1,500. The very next year, the Packers won the second Super Bowl, earning a ring valued at $1,900.
Compare that to last year, when the New England Patriots beat the Los Angeles Rams in Super Bowl LIII, ownership handed out rings with 283 gemstones attached and with 10-karat gold. No formal value has been assigned to those rings, but the Patriots Super Bowl rings from their win over the Seattle Seahawks in 2015 were recently valued at $36,000 – and they were smaller than last year’s rings.
Super Bowl rings are very similar to other sports memorabilia with regards to pricing, other experts say. In fact, there is no absolute standard.
“If it's a generic Super Bowl ring, it's price will fluctuate depending upon several 'timing' factors,” says Matthew Gaffey, a certified financial planner at Corbett Road Wealth Management, in McLean, Va. “For example, is the NFL in season or is it the offseason? Is the ring from a team that is currently competitive (i.e., are they regularly in the playoffs)? Is the team amongst one of the great dynasties (i.e. the Patriots, 49ers, Steelers, Cowboys)?”
On the other hand, if this particular ring was owned by one of the most popular players/coaches (for example, Tom Brady, Joe Montana, or Terry Bradshaw), its value would be significantly higher than one of the other several individuals that received a ring because they were part of the organization.”
“Also, whether the player was still playing, was retired, or deceased could also impact this pricing,” Gaffey adds.
Assessing the Structural Value of a Super Bowl Ring
The value of a Super Bowl ring is in its precious materials and design, such as gold and diamonds, and in its rarity and historical significance, gem experts say.
The sooner a Super Bowl ring recipient realizes that, the better.
“As a trophy item that celebrates a winning moment in a team’s history, recipients of a Super Bowl ring may want to consider protecting its monetary value,” says Tannie Ng, senior art, jewelry and valuable collections underwriter at Chubb, a global insurance company. “When it comes to protecting such a rare item, recipients will want to start with keeping all the paperwork and certificates, which makes it easier to appraise.”
For players or for anyone who receives a Super Bowl ring (yes, they are sometimes sold on the collectors’ market) “it’s important to work with a qualified appraiser who has expertise in both jewelry and memorabilia,” Ng says.
Additionally, the cost of precious materials and labor fluctuates—and can increase over time.
“Consequently, holders of a Super Bowl ring may want to consider an insurance policy that provides a loss annual inflation increase and a loss settlement that reflects market appreciation,” Ng adds. “For example, last year, the price of gold hit its highest point in the last six years, and analysts are predicting it to hit a new record within the next couple of years, according to JCK.com.”
“With Chubb’s scheduled valuable article’s policy, we will pay up to 150% of the listed value to repair or replace the item with like kind and quality.”
The Takeaway on Super Bowl Rings, and Their Value
To a recipient, especially a player who trains hard, plays hard, and survives the aches, pains and injuries that come with the NFL territory, a Super Bowl ring has value that exceeds monetary value.
As an old NFL locker-room saying goes, “you can go to the bank and borrow money, but you can’t go to the bank and borrow an NFL ring.”
So if you have a Super Bowl ring, cherish it – it’s truly a masterpiece among professional sports championship memorabilia.
“The history of Super Bowl rings is as fascinating as the difference in value,” Dan Chojnacki, an insurance specialist at TheTruthAboutInsurance.com and an avowed Green Bay Packers fan. “Factors such as owner, number of diamonds, and amount of gold all affect the value of a ring.”
“But one thing is certain: no matter which Super Bowl ring you own, you have a unique and fascinating piece of football history.”