GO
Loading...

The Making of Tiffany's Super Bowl Trophy

Outside of the NHL's Stanley Cup, the Vince Lombardi Trophy might be the most recognized trophy in all of sports.

That much you probably already knew. What you probably didn't know: The prize for winning the Super Bowl is seven pounds of sterling silver, handcrafted by jewelry icon Tiffany.

In fact, the $4 billion company has made every one of them dating back to 1967. As the story goes, the original design was sketched on a cocktail napkin in front of then-NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle.

It might seem like an odd match, but it's not.

"The core mission of the company is to celebrate important moments in people's lives," said Tiffany executive Tom O'Rourke, who has overseen the company's trophy business for almost eight years. "I can't imagine a more important moment for an athlete than receiving the championship trophy on the field after a victory."

The silver itself has a street value of about $3,500. But, if you add in the high-end labor to make it (there is NO glue!) and its symbolism, the value is a little more difficult to assess.

The making of the Super Bowl Trophy by Tiffany's.
Jessica Golden | CNBC
The making of the Super Bowl Trophy by Tiffany's.

"I would tell you that they trophy itself is priceless," O'Rourke said. "Whatever monetary value is assigned to the trophy doesn't accurately present the work the athletes have put into it."

The NFL is a customer and does pay for the trophy. (Read More: The NFL's 10 Best Cheerleading Squads 2013)

Sources tell CNBC that the Tiffany trophy business, which includes everything from Major League Baseball to PGA golf, is modestly profitable but probably with smaller margins that the rest of its jewelry business.

The NFL trophy is made in a workshop nestled into a distribution center in Parsippany, New Jersey.

"It's like the turn of the century with some of the machines and equipment used," O'Rourke noted.

As you might imagine, the size of the silver sheets is much larger than the average piece used for Tiffany jewelry. Actually, the only place the company has been able to procure sheets of high-grade silver big enough for the Vince Lombardi Trophy is in Italy.

After the silver arrives in New Jersey, the four-month process begins. Old-world terms like blacksmithing, spinning and chasing are following by the final polishes and engravings. (Read More: NHL Commissioner Bettman to Fans: 'I'm Sorry')

"It's made by local craftspeople that are employing crafts and skills from the 1800s," O'Rourke explained.

The Super Bowl Trophy in the process of being engraved.
Jessica Golden | CNBC
The Super Bowl Trophy in the process of being engraved.

Then, the trophy goes to the Hall of Fame for display and returns for a touchup before journeying to the big game itself.

"It does come in a blue box," O'Rourke joked. "Actually, the reality is that the trophy will be in blue felt in a secure box — not a traditional Tiffany box."

After the game, the winning team enjoys the trophy for a while before returning it to Tiffany for a cleaning and a final engraving.

Sometimes, it's a little worse for wear.

"The biggest issue is always the champagne," O'Rourke said.

The biggest party offender? (Read More: Bad NFL Call: A $1 Billion Mistake?)

Reportedly, the New Orleans Saints after winning in 2010.

—By CNBC's Brian Shactman; Follow him on Twitter: @bshactman

Contact Sports

  • CNBC NEWSLETTERS

    Get the best of CNBC in your inbox

    › Learn More