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Early Badge Designs

The final design for those first badges was simple but elegant. At one inch by three-quarters of an inch, they were slightly larger than the current standard badge. The badge of 1870 contained many of the markings found on today’s badges: the white chevron with the Greek letters and two stars. In that first design, a chased border edges the badge.

Once she had designed it, Bettie sought a jeweler who made other fraternity badges. John Newman of New York was contacted and in his response, he first addressed Bettie as "sir." We do not have Bettie's response, but he does refer to her as a "Miss" in his next letter.

For the first eleven years, the official jeweler was Newman and Company of New York. However, members would often go to local jewelers and get their own version of the official design. In samples in the Theta archives, the edging changes from a chased border to a rope or bead edging. Some members commissioned more ornate badges with combinations of pearls, diamonds, rubies, garnets, emeralds, and opals decorating the edge of these early badges. As new chapters were established around the country, the Fraternity named more "official jewelers." By 1896, there were seven official jewelers located around the country.

Grand Convention passed legislation regulating the design of the badge. In 1889, the Constitution and Bylaws specifically stated that Newman and Company's die was to be used in production of all badges. In 1899, a formal description of the badge was included in the Constitution and Bylaws. In 1907, there was an attempt to standardize the design using only pearls or diamonds, but this effort failed. Legislation in 1909 reduced the size of the badge to one inch by two-thirds of an inch.

An Official Jeweler Is Chosen

Finally, in 1915, one official jeweler, Balfour, was chosen. With this move, the days of great variety in badge design were over. Occasionally, other jewelers unofficially made Theta badges. The C.B. Dyer Company of Indianapolis was known for its badges featuring long, extended points, but these were never official.

Through the years, there were gentle reminders in The Magazine about proper use of the badge. In a 1904 issue, members were asked not to use badges "...to supply the missing link in a cuff, to fasten a stock, to pin a belt securely, or even to clasp milady's stray scolding locks." In 1907, Grand Convention passed legislation that restricted the use of the badge design to the badge itself. Members and chapters were not to use the badge design on any other type of jewelry, hat pins, stationery, or other items. The members were asked repeatedly to not go overboard on any decoration on the badges themselves.

Our Badge Today

As of September 2009, J. Lewis Small became the official jeweler of the Fraternity. Founded in 1915 and located in Elwood, Ind., J. Lewis Small also manufactures finely crafted class rings and recognition awards.

Individuals looking to order a badge can do so online via the J. Lewis Small website.

From the standard plain badge to emeralds and pearls, members can choose from a variety of different stone options, as well as metal qualities, to personalize their badge. All of the badges on the J. Lewis Small website can be engraved with the member’s initials, date of initiation, and chapter name. With the exception of the standard plain badge, all other badges on the website come in a small and large size. Guards, dangles, and pin-on pendants can also be ordered at this site to go with any badge.

Known Jewelers
  • J. F. Newman (Newman & Tiffany, 1895-1901) New York, New York 1870-1915
  • R. A. Heggie & Brothers Ithaca, New York 1887-1915
  • Niles (Miles) Cleveland, Ohio 1889-1893
  • Bundle & Upmeyer Milwaukee, Wisconsin 1891-1893
  • Wright, Kay & Co. Detroit, Michigan 1895-1915
  • D. L. Auld & Co. Columbus, Ohio 1895-1915
  • Shreive & Co. San Francisco, California 1895-1901, 1919-1912
  • Simmons Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 1895, 1901
  • Davis & Clegg Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 1899-1906
  • Goodman Barth Columbus, Ohio 1902-1903
  • Burr Patterson Detroit, Michigan 1905-1915
  • Renz Bock Minneapolis, Minnesota 1906-1908
  • Hoover & Smith (formerly Davis & Clegg) Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 1907-1915
  • L. G. Balfour & Company Attleboro, Massachusetts 1915-ca 1987
  • J.O. Pollack & Co. ca 1987-1990
  • Burr, Patterson & Auld 1990-2004
  • Herff Jones (bought BP&A in late 2004) 2004-Sept 2009
  • J. Lewis Small Company Sept 2009-