Business: Classy Rings

Some cheaper sentiment

West Point cadets started the practice of wearing gold class rings in 1835. But in recent years, high school and college students around the country have exchanged such rings as a symbol of "going steady." Now the price of the precious yellow metal is killing that golden tradition. Only about 40% of the estimated 2.5 million class rings expected to be sold this year will be gold. With the price of men's college rings at $200 or more, and women's at about $135, thrifty young lovers are turning to cheaper sentiment—stainless-steel rings, costing $50 to $100.

Last year, when the...

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