Many students have passed by the class ring booth outside Ulrich’s Bookstore on any given day. But unlike students who stopped to examine the rings for a possible purchase, University alum Sara Jones took a look at the rings and thought about how she could make them better.
A 2010 graduate of the Ross School of Business’s MBA program, Jones said the slim options for aesthetically pleasing female class rings for women prompted her to create her own line of class jewelry. Jones founded Heart Graffiti — a jewelry company specializing in student pieces that are subtle and meant for daily wear.
Jones started working on the company in 2009 and was inspired by the artistic designs of jewelry makers in Peru while she worked there when receiving her MBA.
She said that at the close of summer 2009, she traveled down to Peru again to find a designer she would want to use in the long run.
While the company originally created general types of jewelry like rings, necklaces and bracelets, Jones said that as a student, she saw the need for a class jewelry niche. Jones said she decided to pursue class jewelry opposed to other types while in one of her business classes here. The idea was then solidified after a survey she conducted showed that 90 percent of women in the survey said class jewelry options for females are unfashionable.
“It’s about time women have something to celebrate their achievement and have something they actually want to wear. It’s sophisticated and subtle and something you want to wear,” said Jones of the class jewelry Heart Graffiti produces.
Once she decided she wanted to add class jewelry to Heart Graffiti’s product line, Jones applied for and was given licensing rights to the University of Michigan trademark in June 2010. Since then, she has created seven pieces for women to choose from, ranging in price from $145 to $435. The company also has five pieces of jewelry designed for Michigan State University students, according to the Heart Graffiti website.
While most of the jewelry is sold online through Heart Graffiti’s website, Jones also has a deal with M-Den.
Jones said she is working with her sales representatives on campus to spread awareness about the product and create a client base within the sororities at the University. The company has also held several trunk shows near campus.
The company’s first class jewelry item sold was actually for a woman who graduated in 1972, she said.
With four lines of jewelry, Jones said she’s sold about 50 pieces from three of the lines and 12 items from École, which means “cool” in French and is the class jewelry line. Jones said the line is growing slowly, but she foresees doing well around graduation.
LSA senior Sarah Hanson said she hasn’t considered getting a class ring because of their high price tag and limited options for women.
“I got a high school ring, but I never wear it because the girl options are so ugly,” Hanson said. “To be honest, I haven’t even really looked into the ones for college.”
But she said that if the rings available were more fashionable, she would consider getting one.
“I’d only get a ring if it was something I would wear a lot,” Hanson said. “Grad stuff costs so much that it would have to be worth it.”
Business junior Allison Haney, a sales representative on campus for Heart Graffiti, said the company’s class line as well as other lines have been well received.
“I love my Michigan class bracelet and always get tons of compliments on it,” Haney said. “The fashion line of jewelry is really classy and original, and it also matches the class jewelry wonderfully.”