The History of Cocktail Rings

The History of Cocktail Rings


Cocktail rings are linked to ostentatious, expensive fun. But how did these debaucherous rings come about?


A cocktail ring is a flamboyant large ring, often set with a colourful stone in a complex design - most commonly surrounded by diamonds. So where does the name cocktail ring come from? Well, they have been around since 1920s during the prohibition era. Cocktails were invented to disguise alcohol and make low-quality alcohol drinkable. The upper class commonly went to and hosted anti-prohibition parties, they were associated with illicit drinking, socialising and glamour.


4.30ct Old Cut Round Diamond Cocktail Ring


During this era of prohibition many women gained new rights as well. The vote for women in the UK came in 1918 and soon other countries followed suit. Along with these new rights came a new attitude towards women and the way women think. Hair got shorter, as did dresses and women began to frequent cocktail parties either accompanied or alone. Women were able to smoke, drink and have the same fun as a man could. It’s unsurprising that the Art Deco jewellery reflects the bold fashion as well. This meant women wanted to show off their lavish lifestyle and the fact that were self-sufficient and what better way than an enormous ring? Thus, the cocktail ring was born.



The New Age Woman would sip her cocktail at an illegal speakeasy with a huge rock on her hand to signify her wealth and glamour. It was a way to flaunt their illicit behaviour. Worn only on the right hand it was a rejection of a man buying her a ring, such as an engagement ring, a true sign that she was self-sufficient.



Whilst Art Deco design shows off the geometric, cocktails ring were all about a display of decadence. The bigger, the better! And the brighter the ring, the more interesting the wearer was said to be. Cocktail rings began to grow in popularity and reached their peak in the 1950s. A new age began where people would spend their money on cars, houses and new appliances. However, the need to entertain was rife during the 50s and so cocktail parties made a return, as did the rings to match. Rings during this time were some of the largest we have seen and very colourful. A decline of cocktail rings was seen in the 70s however the vibrance of the 80s allowed cocktail rings to find their place again and they have been popular ever since.



Want to know how to wear your cocktail ring? These rings were designed to be the life and soul of the party therefore they should traditionally be reserved for galas or cocktail parties. However, more and more people combine their casual and formal jewellery now so feel free to wear yours however you would like. Our top tip is to shy away from patterns when wearing your ring, a white shirt or a LBD is perfect - let your ring do the talking! Cocktail rings are traditionally worn on the right hand so not to confuse them with an engagement ring. They are usually worn on the ring finger but many people chose to wear them on their middle. Anything goes!

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