The miniature secrets of championship rings

While sports fans enjoy the big moments of this month’s NBA Finals and Stanley Cup Finals, Jason Arasheben is studying like a college student for exams.

Arasheben, a celebrity jeweler whose clients include rappers Drake and ASAP Rocky, researches the history of the warring teams, their city connections, and any other interesting facts that could be molded into an extravagantly bejeweled ring. He also combs through his personal contacts for anyone who might be able to facilitate a meeting with the wealthy owners of the winning franchises.

“You just have to connect the dots,” says Arasheben, CEO of the jewelry house Jason of Beverly Hills near Los Angeles. “Billionaires are talking to other billionaires.”

In recent years, Arasheben has developed into a jeweler that title-winning teams love to visit and has carved out a niche for itself in the market long dominated by Jostens — by creating dynamic rings with reversible surfaces and removable compartments.

“He redefined what the championship ring is all about,” said Eric Tosi, chief marketing officer of the Vegas Golden Knights, who won the Stanley Cup last year.

“Every team that wins a title, regardless of the sport, gets a ring,” Tosi continued. “But how do you stand out? How do you do something that’s never been done before? He did it.”

Arasheben uses both word of mouth and cold outreach to acquire new customers, and his reputation has grown quickly. Over the past five years, he has designed championship rings for nine professional teams, including the reigning NBA, MLB and NHL champions.

ARASHEBEN, WHO BEGAN jewelry making and selling at the University of California, Los Angeles, created his first professional sports rings when the Los Angeles Lakers won back-to-back NBA titles with Kobe Bryant in 2009 and 2010. A close acquaintance, he said, introduced him to Jesse Buss, a son of Jerry Buss, who owned the Lakers at the time.

Jason from Beverly Hills now has more than 100 employees and competes with jewelers such as Tiffany & Company and Baron. But at the time it was a start-up company with about six employees and sparse infrastructure.

Arasheben said he and his team occasionally slept in sleeping bags at the factory, and that in 2009 the factory finished the final ring about 30 minutes before the unveiling ceremony. (He has also designed four rings for the Golden State Warriors, the Lakers’ 2020 ring, the Denver Nuggets’ 2023 ring and the Las Vegas Aces’ 2022 ring.)

Just before the Milwaukee Bucks won the 2021 NBA Finals, a mutual friend put Arasheben in touch with Alex Lasry, whose father, Marc, was previously part of the franchise’s ownership group. But that relationship alone wasn’t enough to seal the deal.

The team’s president, Peter Feigin, said Arasheben’s hands-on approach convinced the team to select him over three other options. “What separated him is that he took responsibility at the CEO level and wanted to do it,” Feigin said.

Along with team executives, Bucks players Giannis Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton assisted in the creative process. Antetokounmpo’s brother Kostas had won the NBA Finals with the Lakers the season before, and Feigin said Giannis wanted a bigger ring than his brother’s.

Arasheben suggested making a detachable top that could turn into a pendant.

“Athletes are competitive by nature, but owners are competitive too,” he said. “They want to outdo every ring that came before them, so the rings get bigger every year. I’m not sure how much bigger they can get, otherwise they’ll just be records.”

THE MORNING AFTER When the Los Angeles Rams won the Super Bowl in 2022, Tony Pastoors, the team’s vice president of football and business, received an email from Arasheben in his inbox.

“’I’m from LA. Your team is from LA. It just makes sense,’” Arasheben said, recalling his pitch. “Tony’s battery was probably drained from the amount of calls and emails I was making.”

Pastoors already knew Arasheben, who had designed the Super Bowl ring for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers the year before, and had star Rams players Jalen Ramsey and Odell Beckham Jr. as personal clients.

Rams owner E. Stanley Kroenke and his son, Josh, were particularly interested because they wanted a local jeweler, Pastoors said. When Arasheben and Pastoors met for a meal, he brought the Buccaneers ring and the most recent Lakers ring, which stunned everyone, including the restaurant servers.

“It was a real ‘wow’ moment,” Pastoors said. “As always with Jason, he found a way to bring some flash.”

Pastoors said some players worked with Arasheben as he sought feedback from executives. Arasheben also called Pastoors to ask about some of the artificial turf and footballs used during the Super Bowl.

“He said, ‘Why on earth do you need a ball?’” said Arasheben, who integrated pieces of that material into the ring.

STANLEY CUP RINGS were predominantly silver in color. But the Vegas Golden Knights wanted a gold ring that matched their name, said Tosi, the chief marketing officer.

“We thought that would be a differentiator,” Tosi said. “When you’re in Vegas, the expectations are high in terms of the quality of the look and the stories behind it.”

Yellow diamonds are harder to come by than white ones, Arasheben said, and the shades must match throughout the ring to avoid a sloppy aesthetic. He traveled to Canada, Belgium and Israel in search of diamonds, he said.

“I didn’t tell them how hard it was going to be because that’s not their problem — it’s my job to figure it out,” Arasheben said of his first hockey championship ring.

Arasheben wouldn’t disclose how much his rings cost teams, but they may order hundreds to accommodate players, owners, coaches, administrators and staff.

The Golden Knights ring features the team’s helmet-and-shield logo embossed above yellow stones. But about three weeks before the unveiling ceremony, Arasheben added white diamonds to the logo for contrast and even more bling.

“That just topped it off,” Tosi said.

THE PROPERTY OF The Texas Rangers preferred a conservative ring with no special features after winning the World Series last year, said Travis Dillon, senior vice president of marketing.

Still, the team’s art director recommended Arasheben after hours of research about his rings in other sports, Dillon said. It would be the first World Series ring for both the Rangers and Arasheben.

“I walked into the meeting with a very reliable source,” Dillon said. “They had strong support from within from the beginning.”

Throughout the design process, Arasheben presented digital copies and wax molds of modest style rings. But in the last meeting with executives, he unveiled a removable top.

Everyone loved it, Dillon said, because the mechanic served a purpose and allowed more stats to be included in the base. Arasheben said he was nervous about the possible reactions to his surprise. But he had to try.

“That’s what’s expected of us,” Arasheben said. “That’s why we entered this industry.”

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