In 1958 when Elvis Presley sang “Wear My Ring Around Your Neck,” the song became notable for not going to No. 1 on the American pop chart, snapping a streak of Presley singles to reach the top.
On Tuesday, the Bucks have the option to wear their rings around their neck, though it has little to do with the subject of the song and nothing to do with falling short of No. 1.
As championship rings go, there’s something unique about the jewelry bestowed to Milwaukee players on Tuesday in recognition of the 2021 NBA championship, and it’s not the numerous references hidden within the number and karat of diamonds included in the design.
It’s a removable top that can be worn as a pendant.
“Over time, (championship rings) have gotten bigger and bigger,” said Jason Arasheben, the CEO of Jason of Beverly Hills, which has designed and manufactured seven championship rings for NBA teams and 12 overall in major pro sports.
“A lot of players were not able to wear their rings; they weren’t practical. You might take it out on Christmas Eve to show the family, but other than that, they can’t wear it. I wanted to create a ring that had more versatility, where a player could wear it and let it be comfortable. This one is just as big as these massive rings, but we developed a technology that allows the ring top to be taken off with a push button system, and the ring top can be converted into a pendant.”
With the top removed, inside the ring is an otherwise obscured QR code that can be scanned to summon a video featuring memorable moments from the playoff run.
Arasheben said he tried to encompass the story of the team, the city and the season in the ring’s design.
“You have to tell all these stories on one 1½-inch piece of jewelry,” he said. “Often it gets tough, but we were able to do that.”
Consider the other “Easter eggs,” as Arasheben put it.
- The 360 diamonds on the ring’s top represent the number of victories since the current ownership group took over.
- The 16 emerald-shaped diamonds on one side represent the number of playoff wins, while the 16 on the other side to represent the franchise’s total of division titles.
- The 4.14 karat of emeralds represent the 414 area code of Milwaukee.
- The 50 round stones on the “inner bezel” represent 50 years since the team’s last championship (no, not the number of points Giannis scored in the clincher or the number of Chick-Fil-A chicken minis he famously ordered the next morning, but nobody gets karats with Chick-Fil-A anyway).
- Part of the ring’s design along the sides is meant to mimic the portion of Fiserv Forum facing the plaza that became the initial home base of the “Deer District.”
- Two trophies on the inside shank represent the franchise’s two titles.
- The Larry O’Brien trophy on the face of the ring includes yellow gold at 65.3% purity — mirroring the season’s winning percentage (including playoffs).
- The approximate three karats of stone on the shank represent the franchise’s three conference crowns.
- The approximate 0.53 karats on the “World Champions” wording on the ring represents the total number of years the Bucks have been in existence.
But first and foremost, of course, is the Bucks logo in corundum green stone, with the messages “Fear the Deer” and “Bucks in 6” crafted onto the sides, not to mention the number and name of player to whom each ring belongs, the playoff-series victory counts (4-0, 4-3, 4-2, 4-2) and the final score of the clinching Game 6 of the NBA Finals, 105-98.
Bucks president Peter Feigin said all Bucks players who were on the roster during the playoff run will get a signature ring, as will members of the front office and owners. Feigin also said all employees who worked during the playoff run will receive their own version of the ring when they’re ready later this season.
Feigin was even excited to get his hands on the box that housed the jewelry. He described it as a rotating pedestal that lights up and rotates the ring once the box is opened.
“It is a surreal process,” said Feigin, who swears that no ring discussions were held until after the Bucks won the title July 20. “Nobody teaches you how to go in the ring business, and there are very few companies that can actually do this. You’re not just designing a players’ ring, there are different tiers of rings, and really you’re designing even for retail to be able to launch the night you do the ring reveal. This is not just some little venture. We went to market, (received a) proposal from all the jewelers who have done this type of thing before, and Jason was kind of heads and tails … incredible. He also has such equity with some of the players, because they use him as a jeweler.”
Arasheben’s clients include members of the Bucks championship team, Khris Middleton and P.J. Tucker. Feigin and the Bucks prepared a “creative brief” that highlighted some of the features of the franchise that could potentially merit reference in the ring, and Arasheben took it from there.
“You have some ownerships that are very hands on with design, and some kind of leave it up to us to work our magic,” Arasheben said. “I had six or seven meetings with the owners to go over design elements, what they liked, what they didn’t like, consulted with some of the players. … This process moved quickly because we had great open-minded ownership that really trusted us to do what we do best which is create rings.”
Jason of Beverly Hills most recently developed the Tampa Bay Buccaneers championship ring earlier this year. Feigin said he was looking forward to handing out rings to luminaries such as former Bucks owner Herb Kohl.
“I can’t believe how excited I am,” Feigin said. “If you told me ever in my life I’d be this excited about a piece of jewelry. … I’m starting to shake with anticipation, I’m so excited.”