If you’ve always wanted to buy a real championship ring of your favorite team, and you have the cash, now is the time. We’ve seen more rings go up for sale in the last three months than ever before.
It makes sense. It’s the sports world’s version of the pawn shop story. Pawn shops do well because they buy low during recessionary times and they can still sell high to those who still have the money.
We talked to Tim Robins of Championship-Rings.net who says he buys and sells about 1,200 championship rings a year, about how his business is doing. (The site is having trouble showing up--mabye because of heavy traffic).
Why do people sell rings?
Robins: A lot of times people sell the rings because of what we call the three D’s. It’s usually drugs, divorce, and/or death. And in recent times we’ve had to add an “E” to it because of the economy. With players, it’s more of a private sale. Instead of going off and selling their house, their expensive cars, they look for items that most people don’t see very often because they don’t necessarily wear their rings out everywhere. They wear them in public for people to see them, they wear them on talk shows, but a lot of people don’t see them. When they sell their ring a lot of people don’t know that they’re gone.
Do you buy these rings or do you take them on consignment?
Robins: If they need to get the money right away, I’ll buy them. If they can hold out and see if there’s more money out there, I’ll do it on consignment.
How has the economy helped your business?
Robins: In the last year, since the economy hit us, we’ve been getting a lot more items that we would not normally see. I’m talking about older items that were usually family possessions, cherished possessions. But we’ve also newer items. We even had someone who sold their 2008 New York Giants ring. We got a 2007 World Series ring from the Red Sox and these are things that you don’t see come out.
Do you want to try to buy everything you see because it’s the perfect storm of sorts?
Robins: More and more people need to sell their rings. More people just want cash immediately. I wish that we had enough income to be able to purchase every ring that comes into us.
Convince me why in this environment people want to buy rings?
Robins: Most of the rings are made of solid gold, a lot of them made of diamonds. They’re commodities, so the value of the rings themselves don’t really go down that much. And it’s not just the commodity value, it’s the intrinsic value that makes the rings worth more than the gold and diamond that’s in them. So they’re an incredible investment.
How much do the prime rings go for?
Robins: For the big rings, if it’s a player’s ring and it’s in good condition and is from a prime team, it could go for $40,000 or more. If it’s a staff member’s ring it will obviously go for less.
The most valuable ring you recently sold?
Robins: The Giants' ring. A player in New York advertised that he was looking to sell his ring. It was on the World Wide Web for everybody to see. So we contacted the player, made a quick purchase and sold the item in the $40,000 range.
Who was it?
Robins: I can’t tell.
Why did he sell it?
Robins: He told us personal issues.
Are big-time players selling their rings?
Robins: There are some very well-known players who are giving up their rings, even MVP’s that are actually selling their rings. And it’s a real shame because we know they don’t want to have to part with them, but in this kind of economy we’re in right now, that’s the only option they have.
Is there a team that everyone covets?
Robins: The most desirable item that we get in, that doesn’t last long is anything from the New York Yankees. It doesn’t matter if it was a World Series ring from the more recent times or the ones from back in the 50s.
You have a list of people looking for rings. Any good stories lately?
Robins: We have one gentleman who collects nothing but St. Louis Cardinals' rings. He has almost every Cardinals' ring, but he was missing this one ring. It was kind of odd that during the last year and half we’ve been able to find three of them. Then there’s the 1991 Washington Redskins ring. It hadn’t been out there for a while. Recently a purchased one from a former player and as soon as I sold it, one of his friends sold it. Then another player called me up and sold me his ring. So rings that have been almost impossible to find and were very coveted are now very easy to find.
Where are people buying from?
Robins: There are so many buyers. I have buyers all around the world. Most of them are here in the United States, but we also sell to Japan, China, New Zealand, Australia and throughout Europe.