The Raptors’ flashy championship ring, in 14-karat yellow gold and encrusted with more than 650 diamonds, is Peter Kanis’ favourite out of all the rings his company has created.
And there have been many.
Sports teams across North America have turned to Windsor, Ont.-based Baron Championship Rings for rings to commemorate their achievements.
The company designed the Cleveland Cavaliers’ ring in 2016.
“We had to top it,” said Baron president Kanis, filled with Canadian pride.
The result was the largest NBA championship ring ever made, with 14 carats of diamonds, the most diamonds and carat weight ever.
“I think it’s the best ring I’ve ever seen,” Kanis said in an interview with the Star on Friday. “Because of how historic it is. Canada’s first NBA championship.”
Championship rings make up more than 90 per cent of Baron’s business. High school and college rings are the company’s bread and butter.
When the company launched 30 years ago, it was a general jewellery manufacturer near Yonge and Adelaide Streets in Toronto.
Founder Richard Baron branched out by “coincidence,” Kanis says, into high school graduation rings. That grew into high school championship rings and got even bigger.
Baron became a go-to for teams for all kinds of sports.
The company’s portfolio includes rings made for the WNBA, the Toronto Argonauts, Toronto FC, and professional Esports gamer Ninja, among others.
“We like to create a story. We say it’s the trophy on your finger. How do you tell a story to represent this championship?” Kanis said. For the Raptors’ ring, presented to the team at its season opener against the New Orleans Pelicans in Toronto Tuesday night, Baron worked closely with star player Kyle Lowry on a design that featured Toronto’s skyline on top with the team’s signature “North” chevron.
The company had to go through a rigorous competition with other jewellers to be chosen to create the Raptors’ ring. Once selected, they had to meet Lowry’s high expectations.
“He said ‘I want to be wowed,’ ” Kanis said. “The first time he saw the ring, the final prototype, the first thing he said was ‘Wow!’ His eyes bulged out.”
Lowry FaceTimed another player to show off the ring, Kanis said, which is when he knew they must have done a good job.
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“It was pretty special moment and then just work, work, work up until Tuesday night,” Kanis said.
The company also made versions of the ring at cheaper prices, based on the materials and amount of gold and diamonds used. If you can’t afford the premium $11,000-ring, you can opt for replicas anywhere from $20 to $5,000. Fans at Tuesday night’s games received the $20 rings for free, but they quickly sold out online, going for anywhere from $45 to more than $150 on Ebay and Kijiji.
There will still be people willing to shell out thousands for Baron’s higher tier rings, Kanis said.
“Diehard fans … the elite fans that eat sleep and breathe Raptors basketball,” he said.
“It’s been 24 years. It’s the first championship. You don’t know when the next one’s going to be ….”