Rings for Kings

Real Salt Lake has selected Salt Lake City-based appreciation and recognition business O.C. Tanner to mint the team’s MLS Cup 2009 Championship Rings, which will be presented to players, coaches and ownership in a pre-game ceremony at 6:30 p.m. MT, prior to kickoff of the team’s home opener this Saturday, April 10 against Seattle Sounders FC.

“We couldn’t be happier that one of the world’s foremost jewelers resides in our backyard,” said Real Salt Lake President Bill Manning. “The enthusiasm that the O.C. Tanner executives and employees have demonstrated for this process has been spectacular. I can’t wait to see the looks on our players faces when our owners, Dave Checketts and Dell Loy Hansen, commemorate the title victory with these rings.”

Espousing a “culture of appreciateology” as a means of motivating and retaining employees and recognizing elite performance, O.C. Tanner employs nearly 1,600 Utahns and services more than 8,000 clients worldwide. Since 2000, the 83-year old company has served as the U.S. Olympic Team’s exclusive licensee for the participating athletes’ rings, and also minted the Olympic medals awarded at the 2002 Salt Lake Winter Games.

The face of each Real Salt Lake Championship Ring features the words “MLS CUP CHAMPIONS” engraved above and below a range of 24 diamonds – one for each player on the title-winning team’s roster – surrounding a cast relief of the iconic Philip F. Anschutz trophy. The rings are then cast in O.C. Tanner’s proprietary yellow gold alloy “Epoch,” or for the athletes that prefer white metal, a rhodium-plating process is then used to customize their ring, which also features the individual’s name and number. Finally, four colors of enamel are baked into the sides of the ring, alongside the scores of each postseason game adjacent to the logos of the Columbus Crew, the Chicago Fire and the Los Angeles Galaxy – the three teams vanquished in Real Salt Lake’s 2009 Championship run.

“As a Utah-based company who helps organizations worldwide appreciate and celebrate great work,  we at O.C. Tanner could not be prouder of Real Salt Lake’s inspirational accomplishments during last year’s MLS season,” said O.C. Tanner’s EVP of Marketing and Business Development, David Sturt. “For our employees – many of whom are huge Real Salt Lake fans – to recall the championship game while casting, engraving or setting stones brings forth exciting memories. To be connected to Utah’s first major league professional sports championship in nearly 40 years in this unique manner is truly a special opportunity.”

Each of the MLS Cup 2009 Real Salt Lake Championship Rings is custom made-to-order for each recipient, which includes all players, staff, management and ownership. None of the rings come from inventory or from an assembly line; instead, the “lost wax method” is employed to create a mold and cast of the rings. In this process, true to the 1,000-year old tenets of jewelry-making, the rings are first made in wax and then a mold is made from the wax; metals such as gold or silver are then poured into the mold to create a “ring tree” cast, forming the main piece of the ring. This particular ring design is more complicated than most due to the unique three-piece construction, with the trio of pieces welded together to complete the finished ring.

Each of the approximately 120 Real Salt Lake Championship Rings is assigned to a specific O.C. Tanner craftsman, who begins the 48-hour process by finishing that ring – by hand – from start to finish. Casting begins at 4:30 a.m., followed by grinding, polishing, setting of stones, etc., finally finishing at 1:00 a.m., nearly two days later. Every one of the rings is personalized with the recipient’s name and number or title, necessitating a unique mold.