The Society’s distinctive emblem, a golden key, is widely recognized as a symbol of academic achievement. The key is engraved on one side with the letters S P, the initials of he Latin words Societas Philosophiae and on the other with the Greek Letters of Phi Beta Kappa, meaning “Love of wisdom, the guide of life.” A pointing finger symbolizes the ambition of the members to attain the principles of friendship, morality and learning, which are represented by three stars.
Phi Beta Kappa works with Hand and Hammer Silversmiths to produce keys, certificates, and other items for Phi Beta Kappa members.
Because the Phi Beta Kappa key is a symbol of academic achievement, it may be worn only by the elected members. Any unauthorized manufacture, sale, or use of the key or any imitation of it should be reported to the Society’s national office.