Are Diploma Frames Sold through the College Stores Worth the Price?

Mat Burn Stain from a Diploma Frame

Of all the items sold through college bookstores, it is my belief that diploma frames are grossly overpriced.  Seriously! 

When you see the quality of the frames, mats, glass and backs, it amazes me they get that kind of money.  The materials used are low quality, minimal grade and, given the amount of people who ask us to fix issues with the frames, it's not surprising.

Over my 33 years in the framing business, many people have brought me their diploma frames to mount their diplomas or repair something that needs fixed.  This has allowed me to personally inspect these frames.  All I can say is that some of these frame companies have hit the jackpot!

Specifically, the glass, mats and backs are commercial grade material offering virtually no protection for the diploma.  This is a very common situation with diploma frames across most college and university bookstores.

One time, several years ago, I took apart a University of Virginia diploma frame for a customer because a light tint could be seen through the diploma.  It turned out the acids from the backing stained the back over a period of years.  The below is backing board which deteriorates and breaks down over time.  This is due to acids in these boards and a simple touch causes it to flake!

Backing Board that is Acidic and Breaks Down Over TimeWhy are diploma frames so expensive?

For one, three parties are involved in the profiting from the sale of the frames: 1) The manufacturers,  2) The intermediary who owns or operates the college book stores and decides which items are sold and the selling prices, and 3) Finally, the college or university. 

When you consider these big corporations wanting their share of the pie, two things happen.  Either cost goes up to compensate the need for additional profiting for the parties involved.  Or, the quality of the product goes down due to the need of using less expensive materials to save money for larger profits.

Of course, a combination of both elements can apply allowing BOTH lower costs and lower quality for MAXIMUM profiting of all selling parties involved. 

In any of these cases, the consumer loses.  Be it the student, parent, friend or relative buying the frame, the end buyer gets hosed.   He or she overpays for a relatively inexpensive quality frame.

When you consider the amount of time, money and effort that was applied to earn that diploma, you think a higher quality frame to protect the diploma from harm would be desired.

One may ask "Why do people buy a college diploma frame?"

Simple. Some like the gold lettering printed on the mat.  There's no special gold ink used to print it on a mat.  You can even get a printed to use an Old English font to do your own stamp.

Also, why do you need the college or university name printed on the mat even though the college or university name is already emblazoned on the diploma!

As P.T. Barnum once said, “There’s a sucker born every minute!”