Every spring a new generation of students around the county gets exposed to an Indianapolis-based brand name. In the midst of the excitement of signing yearbooks and trying on class rings, however, the name Herff Jones might register only subliminally.
Harry Herff and Randall Jones founded their business in 1920, manufacturing insignia jewelry in an Indianapolis factory. The jewelers began producing class rings in the next two decades, then contributed to the war effort with the fabrication of bullet dies, ordnance and Bronze Star medals for the US government during the early 40s.
Product lines expanded after the war, and by 1963, Herff Jones got into the yearbook business. In time, the company offered a full line of educational products, from diplomas to textbooks to caps and gowns.
In addition to school-oriented merchandise, Herff Jones has obtained a few contracts with a special Hoosier connection. Since 1983, they’ve produced the Indy 500 starters’ rings; and in 2007, undertook the design and creation of the Super Bowl rings for hometown champions, the Indianapolis Colts.
Herff Jones was purchased by Carnation in 1973, but reacquired their assets and liabilities in 1985 to return to independent status. Still headquartered in Indianapolis, the employee-owned corporation operates 18 manufacturing plants around the country.
As part of its mission to support education, the company recently partnered with the Indiana Historical Society to produce five virtual map journeys and a large screen experience that will be part of Destination Indiana, a time-travel program at the Eugene and Marilyn Glick Indiana History Center.