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The original pearl-inlaid gold Tiffany pin, 1897, as designed by Ida Marion Dougherty, class of 1900.

 

The current ring, as instituted by the Class of 2004.
 
 
 

Many academic institutions adopt some form of jewelry to serve as a reminder of college years, to encourage school pride and to form a bond between all alumnae, current students, and the institution itself. Receiving this adornment is a proud moment. Mount Holyoke College has had multiple stages of its identifying jewelry, evolving from pin to ring, with stylistic alterations throughout.

The First Mount Holyoke Academic Adornment - The first form of school-identifying jewelry began in 1897, when, desiring some Mount Holyoke jewelry to wear in honor and memory of college days, the Class of 1897 decided to create a pin. A design contest produced a pattern, and this was developed as the “graduate pin.” The May 1897 edition of “The Mount Holyoke,” a school paper, discusses the new pin:

A new reminder of college days, past and present, comes to us in the form of a graduate pin, which has recently been adopted by the four classes now in college. This badge, which may be worn by all Seniors and graduate alumnæ, is a mark of dignity which need not be laid aside with the cap and gown, and is in form quite worthy of its rank. The design is the work of a member of the class of 1900. Ida Marion Dougherty of Fairport, NY, who has succeeded in combining gold, blue, and black enamel and pearls, in a manner at once artistic and exquisite. The class of ’97 rejoices in the opportunity of wearing it for the first time, though it is hoped that many of the alumnæ will be interested in procuring the badge, “thinking of the happy days spent at dear old Holyoke.”
For a long time, we have wanted just such a pin, something worthy of the institution we love. Certainly the beauty of the little badge will be enhanced many fold by the associations which will cling to it for every wearer of the blue.

from “The Mount Holyoke,” May 1897, vol. VI (No. 9)

Class Ring Adopted as Standard - The Class of 1951 is credited with “stabilizing” Mount Holyoke’s class ring system as it stands now, that is, with making a class ring the standard school-identifying jewelry item. However, their ring was following the standard set by the Class of 1950. These rings consisted of a stone in the class color (blue, green, red, or yellow), and an inscribed setting with the class symbol (lion, griffin, pegasus, sphinx) and the class year.

Individualization of Class Rings - At some point, rings ceased to be uniform throughout the class, and instead became a very individualized choice from among the many models offered by the current ring providing company.

Recent Re-Unification - However, a new trend has begun with the Class of 2004. This class board opted to re-unify the class and the class ring by choosing one ring pattern. It consisted simply of the round Mount Holyoke Seal, incised into a smooth band, very reminiscent of old signet rings. The class year is engraved on the inside of the band. The Class of 2005 adopted the same ring design. With the new ring, the Class of 2004 also instituted a Ring Ceremony, where students first received their rings as sophomores. After a few speeches, the students slipped the rings on in unison. The Class of 2005 also continued this light but solemn ceremony.

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This page was created by Jennifer Loomer '04 and Katherine Underwood '05 in History 283, Fall Semester 2003
jmloomer@mtholyoke.edu and kaunderw@mtholyoke.edu