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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Carefully crafted in tradition

An+Aggie+Ring+passes+through+the+process+of+casting%2C+cooling+and+polishing+on+Balfours+production+line.
Photo by FILE

An Aggie Ring passes through the process of casting, cooling and polishing on Balfour’s production line.

Most Aggie Ring recipients will be seeing their shining piece of Aggie gold for the first time on Friday, nicely packaged for their presentation.

Although new to each student, every esteemed Aggie Ring has a story behind its creation that lies within the production line at Balfour in Austin. Each craftsman has years of experience in creating rings and diligently works on each one to ensure the utmost quality.

The process begins when students order their Aggie Rings at The Clayton W. Williams Jr. Alumni Center, according to Association of Former Students Vice President Kathryn Greenwade.

“They’ll order their rings with us and then we work very closely with Balfour,” Greenwade said.  “At the end of an order period, we’ll transmit those orders to Balfour and then they’ll begin the production of those rings. Once we send that to them, then their folks take over and take it through their process.”

Mike Goodwin, director of engineering at Balfour and Class of 1985, joined Balfour after his graduation and has worked with the tooling portion of the Aggie Ring production line for close to 21 years. 

“A&M is the largest account in the country for class rings, that’s among high schools and colleges,” Goodwin said. “There’s no other institution that purchases as many class rings as Texas A&M.”

To create a ring, craftsmen begin by injecting a wax pattern replica of the ring and placing the pattern and material into the casting process overnight. Once the ring is cast into gold, it is set to cool. Then the ring is cleaned by removing the plaster, polishing and antiquing. The ring can be created relatively quickly in an uninterrupted two-day period due to the fact that the workshop already has all of the tools for constructing Aggie Rings.

“The process hasn’t really changed since we took it over in the late 90s,” Goodwin said.

About 38 people will touch an Aggie Ring from start to finish, but there are 23 people specifically on the production line.

“It is a handcrafted product,” Goodwin said. “There is some technology involved in the manufacturing of it, but it’s still very much created by human hands. Most of the polishing and stem setting processes are all manual still, and there’s a great deal of pride and care that goes into making the Aggie Ring.”

Greenwade said when she saw the process of creating the Aggie Ring, there was a significant attention to detail and a personal touch in the process.

“I’ve been to the factory a couple of times and have been able to see the process,” Greenwade said. “It’s different than what you think it’s going to be. There is much more hand work to it than what you might think, and there’s a high degree of quality control. They want to make sure that any ring leaving is leaving in perfect condition.”

When Aggies receive their rings, each one will have been created through an intricate, meticulous process on the prestigious Aggie Ring line. Goodwin recalled his Aggie Ring Day and how important it’s symbol was, and still is.

“I felt the same way when I was a student when I got my ring, it was more of a symbol than getting my diploma,” Goodwin said. “I think everyone’s going to feel that way. That ring on your finger really is your diploma to the world.”

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