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The Capital: Annapolis reps help design Ravens Super Bowl ring

He lifts the top.

“Go ahead. Everybody’s got to try it on.”

Inside, 243 round-cut diamonds sparkle. Ten-karat white gold gleams. A purple amethyst shines in the shape of the Ravens logo.

He lifts Baltimore’s Super Bowl ring — it’s nearly the size of a golf ball, the weight of a sneaker, the price of a Hyundai.

“It’s one of the largest ever made,” said Saunders, whose Annapolis team helped design the ring.

Saunders and his son-in-law, Brian Sands, joined this spring with the Minnesota-based company Jostens to create the championship ring.

Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco requested it be large enough for world champs, Saunders said. And it’s overwhelming to fingers unaccustomed to footballs and barbells.

Former linebacker Ray Lewis requested the signature oval shape, Saunders said. Coach John Harbaugh’s motto, “Play like a Raven,” is engraved in the side.

“Each ring tells the story of the season,” Saunders said.

The story of this ring began days after the Super Bowl win against the San Francisco 49ers. Saunders said he flew to Florida to meet team owner Stephen Bisciotti.

The men helped design the Ravens 2000 Super Bowl ring. It’s smaller and features a football field of white diamonds.

Saunders was a Jostens employee then. Now he’s president of Recognition Concepts in Annapolis, which produces trophies, plaques and rewards programs for businesses. Saunders and Sands have also helped design rings for the Baltimore Blast and D.C. United soccer teams, as well as the Chesapeake Bayhawks lacrosse team.

Jewelers compete for Super Bowl contracts, and Saunders said he was enlisted by Jostens because of his relationship with the Baltimore team. He and Sands served as Jostens representatives to help design the latest Ravens ring. Of course, they’re also faithful fans who held a Thanksgiving tailgate with turkey legs and crabcakes.

Saunders and Sands joined Jostens jewelers to show ring samples to team officials. About a dozen meetings were held before the rings were presented to players during a ceremony earlier this month at the team training facility in Baltimore County.

That day, the Annapolis men wore white gloves and wiped fingerprints from the rings. Each sparkled with two miniature Super Bowl trophies set with 32 brilliant-cut diamonds. Two marquise diamonds, about 0.75 carats each, symbolize the team’s championships in 2000 and 2012. Engraved underneath are scores from the 2012 playoff games.

It’s the latest symbol of Super Bowl splendor. The Green Bay Packers’ 1966 Super Bowl ring featured a single diamond. But recent rings come adorned with hundreds of them and can fetch high prices at auction. Two Pittsburgh Steelers Super Bowl rings were auctioned in 2008 for more than $66,000, according to a report in thePittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Saunders declined to say how much a new Ravens ring costs. But John George, a goldsmith at Ron George Jewelers in Annapolis, estimated the ring’s value at between $10,000 and $15,000.

All Ravens players, coaches and employees received a ring. Jostens even designed a series of necklaces, bracelets and earrings for wives. Local fans, too, can purchase a $400 ring.

The job has its benefits and Sands relied on his expert eye while browsing for an engagement ring for Saunders’ daughter.

Saunders approved of the choice — white gold — though Sands is mum on how it compares to the Ravens’ bling.

“You won’t catch me saying that on the record,” he said, laughing.

By TIM PRUDENTE tprudente@capgaznews.com
 CapitalGazette.com

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