The more than 2,000 New Mexico State University students and alumni who have purchased an official ring in the decade since the program was launched can be assured that specialists dedicated to quality crafted their ring.
Manufactured by Balfour, a market leader in designing quality crafted rings, each Aggie ring is touched by more than 30 skilled workers in a lost-wax induction process that guarantees the integrity of the ring, says Tim Shore, a Balfour representative who has handled the NMSU ring program almost since its inception.
Each ring begins with a permanent mold that is used to create wax casts. Each cast is different depending on the size of the requested ring. Hot wax is injected into the mold to create each ring one at a time. After the molds are carefully removed, the casts are tediously sculpted and shaped. A worker then sizes each ring specifically so it will perfectly fit its recipient.
Once several casts are made, a temporary stem is attached and fastened to a ring tree. This is the only phase in the process where rings are grouped together. The ring trees are placed into metal cylinders and a high heat tolerant plaster is poured around them. After the plaster hardens, the cylinders are baked for 10 hours at 1,200 degrees. This process solidifies the plaster and melts the wax ring trees leaving a negative of each ring.
Molten gold or silver is poured into the casts filling the negative ring space. After hardening, the casts are blasted with high-pressure water and sand to remove the plaster, leaving only the newly formed rings. Dozens of workers are ready to individually work on the ring and pass it from once station to the next. The sizing is checked and any needed hand carving to match the design is completed before the ring goes through the polishing process. One dozen different polishing machines are used to finish the ring.
Shore says Balfour is proud of its process, but the ring is first and foremost an NMSU ring.
Most important is for the wearer to see the ring as a symbol of their academic accomplishment, he says. It is a diploma NMSU graduates can wear.
The Aggie ring design captures the uniqueness of NMSU. The top of the ring features the school seal, surrounded by the school name. The top of the ring can be enhanced with an optional diamond or cubic zirconia. The side of the ring displays Memorial Tower, in honor of the Aggies who died while serving their country. The other side features the Organ Mountains, a majestic symbol to many who attend NMSU.
The ring is reserved exclusively for junior and senior students in good standing and graduates of NMSU. Students wear the ring with the school name facing them, then after the granting of degrees at commencement, graduates turn the ring around, with the name facing outward, symbolizing they are now ready to face the world.
The official ring is a symbol of university pride, says Tammie Campos, executive director of NMSU Alumni Relations. It makes a statement that the wearer has met the academic standards of NMSU and reflects the values of integrity and responsibility.
Students and alumni who purchase the ring can participate in a special ring presentation ceremony held at the end of each semester in Memorial Tower. Both mens and womens rings are available in silver, yellow or white gold and with an antique or natural finish. Ring prices differ, depending on metal, finish and stone selections. Balfour also offers an interest-free, three-month payment plan. Anyone who has graduated from NMSU can purchase a ring by contacting the Alumni Association, alum.nmsu.edu, or visiting the Balfour website, balfour.com.