PORTLAND, Ore. – When Portland Timbers owner Merritt Paulson hoisted the MLS Cup trophy in Columbus, Ohio last December, it set off a series of celebrations, a downtown parade and rally at Providence Park.
Back in Portland, as soon as the team's offseason began—the shortest such offseason in franchise history—Paulson, along with GM/president of soccer Gavin Wilkinson, Timbers head coach Caleb Porter, and president of business operations Mike Golub, began thinking about how the organization would recognize the first-ever championship in team and franchise history.
One component of that legacy, unveiled at Providence Park before opening kick of the 2016 regular-season opener against Columbus Crew SC, was the team's 2015 MLS Champion banner.
The other was the club’s championship ring.
- PHOTOS: The Timbers 2015 MLS Cup Ring
For Wilkinson, who has been with the team since 2001, the ring design was a chance to create something that symbolizes what the club stands for as an organization.
“The championship rings not only celebrate the achievement of the club winning its first MLS Cup but also the values of the team, with their symbolic design details,” he said.
Porter echoed that sentiment in creating something to commemorate an important moment in the club’s history.
“We wanted to represent a championship in the right way, a classy way,” said Porter. “Merritt [Paulson] was really good about not cutting corners and investing in a really nice ring that will cement the championship and be something that we—all of us—can have forever to remind us what we did.”
Almost immediately, Paulson and the rest of the Timbers team reached out to the championship ring designers at Jostens with an outline of what they wanted the ring to look like. They gave them a list of the elements that they wanted in the ring and the group at Jostens, including their master ring designer, did the rest.
The result is a thing of beauty, each individual stone and diamond set one-by-one to craft a look unique to the 2015 MLS Cup champions.
On the face of the ring is the Timbers' primary logo, the double-sided axe set against the background of a custom-cut green stone—“Custom-made specifically for the top of this ring,” said Chris Poitras, the Jostens' vice president responsible for the execution of the Timbers' championship ring.
There are some 91 diamonds on the face of the ring, totaling just over one carat.
But the club wanted other elements that would represent the Timbers' historic achievement and signify the team's place in the Portland community. These included both a Cascadia element and a supporters' element.
The final ring features the MLS Cup trophy set against the Cascadia flag on one side and the Stand Together logo set against the background of a log slab on the other. On the inside of the ring, a message has been engraved to commemorate the championship win: “12.6.15,” it reads. “HISTORY MADE.”
“They wanted to make sure that when you looked at this ring, you felt like it was the Portland Timbers' ring. It's not over the top. [It's] very classic, very iconic, but it captures this environment that's here at the stadium,” said Poitras of the collaboration between Jostens and the Timbers.
The team received their rings in a private event Friday evening at the Portland City Grill in downtown. For the team, the end result is a treasured commemorative valuable.
“There's a little bit of everything,” Porter said. “Ultimately, I think it really turned out nice.”