All You Need to Know About Antique Cocktail Rings

Cocktail Ring (big stone and nothing else) — wide bands called “Cigar bands”, modernist because lack of detail (Clean and contemporary) Detail in refined parts as opposed to ornamentation, not decorative

Cocktail rings are a little misplaced within the world of jewelry. Nobody has ever really been quite sure where they belong in the jewelry hierarchy. They were, in effect, the original bling. They emerged during the prohibition era at the many secret – and illegal – parties that were held in towns and cities across the nation. Women were starting to see changes in their own role in both the household and in society, and so the cocktail ring became a sort of statement of “arrival” for many.

Generally speaking, people who attended anti-prohibition parties were well-connected and wealthier than most. This meant cocktail rings were big, bold and brassy, with a huge diamond at the center and other, smaller stones comprising a halo. There were no rules on construction, design or the array of colors used and, basically, anything went.

The popularity of cocktail rings hit its zenith in the 40s and 50s (see our vintage cocktail rings), but saw a sharp decline as attitudes and fashions changed dramatically in the 1960s. The 80s, with all its spandex, big hair and gender-neutral motifs saw cocktail rings come back in a big way, and they have remained popular ever since.

Cocktail rings were – and still are – predominantly worn on the right hand, in order to provide yet more separation from engagement, wedding, eternity or other more personal rings. They are intended for wearing during specific occasions, where the elaborate and excessive become the normal for the evening, and are by no means an everyday ring.

There are those who choose to wear a cocktail ring on the index finger of the right hand.

Another consideration when wearing a cocktail ring is what clothes are accompanying it. Some people try to pair their cocktail rings with the earrings or clothing that they are wearing.

There are some collectors who never wear their cocktail ring, but rather keep them in showcases and display them.

Here are a few thoughts and warnings to be aware of before buying a cocktail ring:

Ensure that you are only buying from a reputable seller. There are many costume rings (with synthetic stone) that look very similar to their very expensive counterparts. Make sure that you only purchase a cocktail ring from someone who will know the difference between the two.

Many gold cocktail rings have a very low percentage of gold and a high percentage of nickel and other alloys. Ensure that you aren’t allergic to nickel before purchasing the low gold ring. (You don’t have to worry about this if the ring is made from platinum)

An appropriate occasion. Though, as mentioned before there are no rules to cocktail rings, we advise thinking of an event that you could picture yourself wearing each particular cocktail ring.

Ensure that all the stones are secure. Cocktail rings typically have many stones. Make sure that you shake the ring next to your ear and listen for stones that are loose. Bumping is very common with cocktail rings because they are much large and bulkier than engagement rings. If the stones aren’t secure, they will fall out.

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