Las Vegas Sun

September 20, 2019

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The ultimate pawnshop treasure

Rick Harrison superbowl rings

Mikayla Whitmore

In his line of work, Rick Harrison comes across plenty of jewelry, including championship rings from professional sports teams. Athletes often use the rings as collateral for loans.

The 14-karat, white-gold Super Bowl ring encrusted with 143 diamonds is hard to miss in the display case at Gold & Silver Pawn Shop on Las Vegas Boulevard North.

The price tag on the New England Patriots 2002 Super Bowl ring is $100,000 — three times its value. Store owner Rick Harrison doesn’t plan on parting with his prized possession.

The ring was collateral on a $2,500 loan by a former Patriots’ player, who never returned to settle his debt.

“It would take a crazy amount of money,” Harrison said when asked about selling the ring.

Hundreds of people line Las Vegas Boulevard waiting to enter the shop, which has become a tourist attraction because it’s featured on The History Channel’s “Pawn Stars” television series. The ring is highlighted in the show’s opening segment.

Before his store became famous, Harrison used to list the ring on eBay the week before the Super Bowl with $100,000 as the minimum bid. It was a marketing ploy. He knew nobody would buy the ring, but it would bring media attention to his shop.

The ring belonged to defensive back Brock Williams, who, due to a knee injury, was active for just one game during New England’s run to the Super Bowl. His name is engraved on the side.

It’s the only Super Bowl ring in Harrison’s current collection, which includes mementos from various professional and college sports, but not the only Super Bowl ring in the shop’s history. Several athletes have pawned Super Bowl rings, Harrison said, but they returned within the three-month term to repay the loan. Harrison declined to name the athletes, citing privacy laws.

“It’s a great service at 3 a.m. when you are partying in Las Vegas and run out of money,” Harrison said. “Ninety-nine percent of them are picked up within three months.”

Harrison almost bought a Washington Redskins Super Bowl ring believed to belong to Hall of Fame running back John Riggins. But when Harrison contacted Riggins to verify it was his ring and hadn’t been stolen, Harrison learned the ring in fact was a salesman’s sample. Even so, it was valued at $3,000.

As for the Patriots ring, its over-the-top design and high cost helped usher in a new era for championship rings, Harrison said. While he describes some older rings as “cheap high school rings,” Harrison said Patriots owner Robert Kraft pushed the envelope in his concept for the Patriots’ first Super Bowl ring.

“That ring broke all of the rules,” Harrison said.

The NFL provides Super Bowl winners up to $5,000 per ring for 150 rings. The team pays any additional costs.

Rings typically sell from $10,000 and higher at auction houses and websites. One buyer spent $230,000 for New York Giants star Lawrence Taylor’s Super Bowl ring from 1986-87.

Last year’s Seattle Seahawks Super Bowl ring was made by Tiffany and Co. Each ring took 45 hours to craft.

Designs get more elaborate and expensive every year. But, for Harrison, none beats his Patriots ring.

“That’s the best-looking Super Bowl ring ever made,” he said.

    • BUY IT, THEN TRY IT

      Customers aren’t allowed to try on — or even touch ­— championship rings at Gold and Silver Pawn Shop. Once you own the ring, you can wear it, owner Rick Harrison said.

      There is one exception: When children from Make-A-Wish Foundation visit the shop, Harrison makes sure they get to wear his prized Patriots Super Bowl ring.

    • VALUE OF THE DIAMOND

      Super Bowl championship rings typically are the most coveted memorabilia by fans of the three major sports — with a few exceptions.

      Harrison said a New York Yankees World Series ring would be more valuable than a Super Bowl ring from one of football’s less popular teams, such as the New Orleans Saints. Rings from basketball’s Los Angeles Lakers also would command a high price.

      This 2008 Tampa Bay Rays American League championship ring is worth $30,000, according to the Tampa Tribune. The team reportedly produced 480 of the white gold and diamond rings, and one found its way to Harrison’s shop.

    • FOOTBALL BEYOND THE NFL

      Gold & Silver Pawn Shop has championship rings from the Canadian Football League’s Grey Cup and the Arena Football League’s ArenaBowl. Pictured is the 2004 San Jose SaberCats Arena Football League championship ring. It appraises for about $5,000.

    • EVEN THE BOX CARRIES VALUE

      There’s no price tag on the 1989 Denver Broncos AFC Championship ring, but Harrison says he’d sell it for $12,000 to $15,000.

      “If you’re a (Denver) fan, even if your team didn’t win a Super Bowl, it’s still a 1989 championship ring,” he said.

      The ring comes in a wooden box with the Broncos logo on the exterior and a velvet interior. The value of the box alone is $1,000.

    • SOMETHING FOR THE LADIES

      In addition to rings for players, most organizations issue Super Bowl pendants for women who work with the team and players’ wives. Gold & Silver Pawn Shop has a 1967 Green Bay Packers pendant listed for $4,000.

    • WHAT'S THE WORST CHAMPIONSHIP RING HARRISON HAS SEEN?

      The 1990 Cincinnati Reds World Series ring. Former Reds owner Marge Schott had a reputation for being frugal. “It looks like one of those cheap senior class rings you see in the Jostens catalog,” Rick Harrison said.



    Ray Brewer can be reached at 702-990-2662 or [email protected]. Follow Ray on Twitter at twitter.com/raybrewer21

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