A Long History of Innovating Tradition
You can think of us as a 100-year old startup company. Under the American Achievement Corporation umbrella is the heartbeat brand of Balfour. Balfour, founded in 1913, is well known for its long and successful history of the manufacturing, sales and marketing of class rings, yearbooks, letter jackets and graduation regalia to middle school, high school and college students and alumni. Today, we’re focused on delivering exceptional quality that lasts a lifetime and captures the special memories of student life. We’re also focused on expanding the assortment of products and programs that students, alumni, educators and schools have to choose from.
We are here to connect students to the most meaningful moments of their lives. Moments like these that are without limit:
- Walking across that stage to finally earn that diploma after years of writing assignments and long nights studying for exams.
- Receiving the highest points from the judges for that solo performance you’ve practiced for months.
- Sliding the college ring on your finger knowing there’s only one more semester left to finish.
- Carrying your teammate across the field on your shoulders after the game-winning field goal split the uprights.
- Walking in that new school as a freshman and wondering what the next four years will be like.
- Finishing one last edit of the sophomore section of the yearbook before thankfully sending it in to print.
We’re incredibly proud and grateful to be a small part of these experiences and more. We’re in the business of preserving memories and celebrating success. And we know that our customers make a difference in the world around them and they will continue to inspire us.
In business for more than 100 years and employing more than 1,200 people in more than ten facilities across North America, we are recognized as one of the oldest and largest distributors of commemorative jewelry and recognition products.
The Early Days: In 1913, Lloyd Garfield (L.G.) Balfour took notice of the expanding number of students enrolling in college and the growing popularity of sororities and fraternities. He saw a unique opportunity and began Balfour, a company that manufactured and distributed high-quality fraternity and sorority jewelry to college campuses across the country.
During WWI, Balfour was called upon to produce military insignia for the U.S. Armed Forces. After the war, we developed new product lines including high school and college rings, pins, commercial insignia, stationery, diplomas and awards.
Alternatively in 1939, three brothers revolutionized how school yearbooks were produced. While the oldest yearbooks pre-date 1900, they were limited to those schools that could afford the expensive engraving process. Herbert, Edgar and Bill Taylor introduced offset lithography to yearbooks, and Taylor Publishing was born producing top-quality yearbooks for schools across the country.
Balfour was more than ready to take advantage of increases in school populations after the Second World War. We also took notice in the growth of American business and created a market for employee achievement and recognition products.
The Decades of Change: In the 1970s, gold was freed from government monetary controls. It rose from $35 per ounce to $850 per ounce. In response to the increase, we introduced special alloys to make class rings affordable for everyone and developed special manufacturing techniques that allowed us to offer students an endless variety of personalized ring design choices.
Yearbook production changed dramatically in the late 1970s when electronic page composition replaced the decades-old cut-and-paste method. Taylor again led the way with computerized copy preparation followed by the first desktop publishing software for yearbooks.
Choice of Champions: Our aspirations to continually improve Balfour and its products led us to start producing championship rings. Since then, Balfour has come to be known as the “Choice of Champions,” because of our excellent quality and design services. We have produced Super Bowl rings for the San Francisco 49ers and Dallas Cowboys, World Series champions New York Yankees, and Stanley Cup champions New York Rangers, as well as countless high school state and collegiate champions across the country.
A New Millenium: The 1990s began another transformation for yearbooks, one that continues today. The advent of desktop publishing and digital photography expanded the possibilities for print products. All-color yearbooks and online publishing software have forever changed how yearbooks are produced.
In late 1996, Balfour combined with the business of CJC Holdings, Inc. to become part of a new company, Commemorative Brands, Inc. We continue to keep our reputation for producing quality and innovative products, while being dependable and reliable to our customers.
In July of 2010, American Achievement Corporation (AAC) leveraged the reputations of both Taylor Publishing and Balfour to begin marketing and selling on-campus under one master brand: Balfour.
Here We Are Today:
With a storied past and a proud history, we are committed to Innovating Tradition with new ways of connecting with students and schools at even deeper and expansive levels in the future. With recent product introductions like Encore™, the industry’s first full-feature HTML5 software for yearbook creation, along with the new Balfour ID backpacks featuring patent-pending Velcro surfaces and collections of interchangeable patches, and the launch of our new school and student enrichment program called THRIVE, we’re fully dedicated to product innovation and student engagement like never before.