Tips For Investing In Donruss Parallels

Donruss, and its iconic Rated Rookie, is perhaps one of the most popular paper products in cards (as opposed to optichrome cards, for example).

That said, despite different finishes on the cards than brands like Prizm, Optic and Select, Donruss has done an amazing job of incorporating eye-catching parallels into its sets.

In today’s article, we’ll look at the different parallels of the latest Donruss releases and let you know what you should expect from the brand, and most importantly, how to invest in it.

What is Donruss?

Donruss is one of Panini’s most popular paper products – if not the most popular paper product.

To make a loose comparison, collectors can think of Donruss as Panini’s version of the “Topps” card set. Topps spawned an offshoot called Topps Chrome, while Donruss has led to the creation of Donruss Optic. Both Topps Chrome and Optic are some of the most mass-collected products of their time.

Donruss is best known for its Rated Rookie cards, which look timeless and have a nostalgic feeling printed into the design. From the iconic “Rated Rookie” font that’s a callback to rookies of old, this product, while widely produced, still holds a lot of investment potential.

What are parallels?

As we’ve written before, “parallels are versions of base cards that have some distinguishing feature (such as a color change) but in every other way have the same numbering and subjects as the regular cards in the set. These cards are produced in smaller quantities than base cards.”

With most modern cards, this is typically a change in the card’s borders. With Donruss cards, the border is typically white but a “green parallel” will have a green border.

How to tell parallels from other cards

Parallel cards are significantly visually different than the base cards. While the image on the cards is the exact same, the border color will be different.

Donruss, in particular, has a “laser parallel” that is unlike almost anything else on the card market. These cards are reflective with a spiraling, shiny finish that extends from the border of the card to the center. These can be some of the biggest pulls from Donruss and are a sight to behold for collectors

What kind of parallels are in Donruss?

In the early days of Donruss parallels, things were simple. There were a few colored borders (blue and red), plus the medal-colored cards – bronze, silver, and cold.

Now, the parallel list is growing much deeper with the introduction of the “laser” technology to diversify the parallel offerings.

Here are the colors in 2021-22 Donruss Basketball parallels, including the “Donruss Choice” box parallels:

Donruss parallel basketball cards

  • Green Ice,
  • Silver Press Proof
  • Yellow Flood
  • Purple Press Proof #/199
  • 75th Anniversary #/75

Choice parallel cards

  • Red #/99
  • Blue #/49
  • Gold #/10
  • Black Gold #/8
  • Black 1/1.

Holo Laser parallels

  • Green
  • Green/Yellow
  • Orange
  • Pink
  • Red/Gold
  • Teal #/149
  • Purple #/99
  • Red #/99
  • Light Blue #/60
  • Blue #/49
  • Yellow #/25
  • Red/Blue #/15
  • Gold #/10
  • Black 1/1.

2021 Football has a shorter parallel list (probably because the checklist is longer), but there are still a lot of colored options to collect.

Football parallel cards

  • Aqueous Test
  • No Name
  • Season Stat Line #/500 or less
  • Jersey Number #/99 or less.
  • Blue
  • Bronze, Green
  • Red
  • Yellow
  • Silver #/100
  • Silver Die-Cut #/75
  • Gold #/50
  • Gold Die-Cut #/25
  • Black #/10
  • Black Die-Cut 1/1


What are the differences between the parallels in Donruss football and basketball?

Donruss football and basketball have two major differences in parallels. For one, football has a shorter parallel checklist and it would be easier to build out a rainbow. As mentioned above, this could be due to the longer checklist for the football set.

The biggest difference between the two sets, however, is that football has yet to incorporate the laser technology into its parallel set. That’s a shame, seeing as those are some of the best-looking cards on the market, but hopefully, they can be added to football soon.

How do they compare in value?

Donruss parallels price about as you’d expect – all the unnumbered ones sell for about the same price, while the numbered versions get increasingly more valuable as the numbering descends.

The unnumbered parallels still sell for quite a bit more than the base rookies, however, so it’s always worth investing in parallels instead of paper base rookies when it comes to Donruss. Far too many base rookies are printed for them to ever hold long-term value, even if they’re PSA 10s.

As an example, a Cade Cunningham base rookie recently sold for $2.50, including shipping, while the unnumbered orange laser sold for $35 on the same day. Since the lasers are worth over 10x as much in most cases, they should always be the focus of your investment opportunity.

And that’s not all. Another thing that makes these amazing long-term investment opportunities is that the Donruss parallels are still cheaper than base Prizm rookies in most cases. They’re significantly rarer and cost less – see where we’re going with that?

Bottomline on Donruss Parallels

Donruss Parallels could be a hidden gem of parallel investing, or even rookie investing. If you can scoop up some raw rookies of your favorite players and get them graded mint, then the scarcity will bold well for their value over time.

What do you think of Donruss parallels? We’d love to hear your grading experience, thoughts, and points. Just share with us on Twitter @card_lines.

Jesse Haynes

Jesse Haynes

Jesse Haynes is a novelist and content writer (contentninjamarketing.com) who has played sports and collecting trading cards almost his entire life. He just graduated from the University of Tulsa with an MBA and should probably get a “real job,” but instead hopes to continue telling stories in his pajamas for a long time.


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