Class. The ranking of ORDERS and DECORATIONS for which a difference for each class is purposely designed for each strata in their medals and insignia; yet all retaining a similarity of design. Some early orders had many classes; the Order of the Star of Brabant for the Grand Duchy of Hesse (established 1914) had 12 such classes. The Austrian Order of Merit (1922) had ten classes. However the nominal number of classes for most Orders is six. The ranking of these classes with their typical insignia are:Sovereign of the Order – The most elaborate Collar or Sash with Badge or Breast Star, often gem encrusted (for royalty only).Grand Cross – Badge suspended from a Collar, often in precious metal.Grand Officer – Badge in precious metal suspended from a Neck Ribbon.Commander – Smaller Badge suspended from a Neck Ribbon.Officer – Small Medal hung from a Ribbon drape with Rosette on Ribbon.Chevalier or Knight – Small medal hung from Ribbon drape without rosette.The higher the rank the more elaborate and exotic the medallic decoration. Higher classes are made in precious metal and have more components, as SASH, COLLAR, BREAST STAR; higher classes are usually larger in size; and higher classes bear more and larger jewels and better enamel work.
excerpted with permission from
For Artists, Makers, Collectors and Curators
COMPILED AND WRITTEN BY D. WAYNE JOHNSON
Roger W. Burdette, Editor