A class ring (also known as a graduate ring, senior ring, or college ring) is a ring worn by students and alumni to commemorate their graduation from high school, middle school , college, or university.
Today these rings are often personalized by each student, although in years past they were uniform to the school's standard, and only the year would change. A typical class ring depends upon the gender of the person wearing the ring; men's rings are larger than women's. The color is usually gold; however, even that can differ from school to school, and students can order their ring in white gold, silver, or various non-precious metal alloys. The center stone is traditionally one of the school's colors, but the size and cut can be individually customized to the student's desire (as well as the size of the ring).
- In some high schools, class rings can be ordered as soon as a student begins class as a freshman. It is worn as an identifier, to tie classmates together through their four years in school.
- The beginning of the junior year is also a common time for students to receive their class ring. It marks their status as an "upperclassman" and the beginning of preparation to apply for and transition to college.
- The beginning of the senior year is another common time for students to receive their class ring. It becomes a symbol of their status as the graduating class.
- A few schools prefer to wait until graduation. Students receive their rings at their graduation ceremony. At this time it is a graduation ring, and is symbolic of the completion of school, the ring marks the wearer as an alumnus or alumna.
- Especially in high school, a boyfriend and girlfriend may exchange class rings.
- Most high schools do not have a ring ceremony. Students may receive their rings in the mail or pick them up during a set delivery time. In this case they simply begin wearing the rings as they please.
- Most high schools do not have a specific ring which all students' wear. High school class rings are the most varied and individualized, often no two students in the school will have the same ring. Typically high school class rings feature the wearer's birthstone rather than the school color/stone.
- Typically high school graduates wear their class rings for only a few years before and after graduation. At that time it is usually replaced with a college/university class ring or simply removed and placed in storage as a keepsake. Rings are often brought out of storage and worn for class reunions.