WHAT IS A COCKTAIL RING?
Cocktail rings are attractive, attention-grabbing, and a fantastic ice breaker as they come with a lot of historical content.
The best cocktail ring makes a statement about the wearer that she is confident and has an excellent eye for fashion. She is well-traveled and daring because you won't find too many women rocking cocktail rings, with shapes that range in size from 3 carats and beyond.
Let's learn more about this glamorous bling, perfect for attending a cocktail party...
THE HISTORY OF THE COCKTAIL RING
The right-hand ring — also called a "dress" or "cocktail" ring — dates back to the 1920s. America was experiencing the Prohibition era, and the law dictated that alcohol could not be bought or consumed in open society. The symbolism of a cocktail ring, the original bling, comes from flappers — fashionable women who rebelled against the system and drank alcohol in secret anyway, hence the original cocktail ring. Speakeasy drinking dens became a magnet for socializing and illicit drinking. For the first time in history, women began to experience female independence and were permitted to do what they liked: they wore shorter dresses, worked, and visited speakeasies (in secret). They drank and smoked with the men. Because most women were right-handed, women's dinner rings were more comfortable to flaunt on the same hand.
Although the Art Deco period is generally associated with streamlined design, the dress code was decadent and glamorous, and the jewelry was designed to match. People who attended anti-prohibition parties were generally well-connected and wealthier than the average person. Ladies' cocktail rings had enormous, bold, and brassy designs in precious metals with a huge stone in the middle and smaller diamonds or gemstones surrounding it, forming a luxe halo. These small diamond stones were usually enclosed in a pavé setting. There were no limits to how these expensive cocktail rings were made or worn.
Whilst the 1920s signalled the emergence of cocktail rings, the 1950s heralded their zenith. As middle class wealth grew, more conspicuous consumerism appeared in the form of cars, home ownership and home appliances. Women's cocktail rings became extremely fashion-forward in the 1940s and 1950s, but experienced a sharp decline as attitudes and styles shifted dramatically during the 1960s. The 80s were a time of big hair, spandex, gender-neutral designs, cuff bracelets, shoulder-duster earrings, and cocktail rings in large geometric shapes enjoyed a tremendous resurgence.
Women wore them everywhere, and every accessory designer put their spin on them. So the general rule of thumb was that it qualifies as a cocktail ring if it's big, chunky, and flashy (think Lady Gaga).
COCKTAIL RINGS EVOLVE
In 1933 prohibition ended, and the cocktail rings moved into private dining rooms of the rich. The diamond cocktail ring for women was popular but more focused on status or wealth than rebellion. Each ring had to be crafted from the finest material and feature large diamonds and other precious gemstones. They were not meant for everyday wear and featured any gemstone, even gemstones considered too soft for engagement rings, like pearls or turquoise. The aquamarine cocktail ring was also an especially popular style.
In the 60s, women declared their loudness and ostentation with statement rings. In the 80s, thanks to television hits Dallas and Dynasty, diamond cocktail rings were perfect for large shoulders, long hair — and a dream of women finally getting into the boardroom. Diamond cocktail rings were seen as status symbols that mimicked the grandeur of Old Hollywood.
DINNER RING VS. COCKTAIL RING
Dinner rings first appeared during the 1910s and were worn alongside fun cocktail rings during the 1920s and early 1930s. However, after Prohibition ended, dinner parties soon took over cocktail parties in popularity, as did dinner rings. Less flashy and more mainstream, they were nevertheless still glamorous.
While a "dining ring" might refer to a variety of non-engagement bands at the time, the most popular style was the "north to south" version, where the ring stretched along the length of the digit rather than around it. Richly colored gems (garnet, aquamarines, etc.) were also utilized, with a luxe halo of diamonds surrounding them. By the late 1930s, dinner rings had fallen out of favor, but they were revived in the late 1940s and 1950s, lasting well into the new millennium.
WHICH HAND TO WEAR A COCKTAIL RING?
Generally speaking, cocktail rings were, and still are, mostly traditionally worn on the right hand to add yet more distance between oneself and engagement, marriage, eternity, or other more personal rings. An oversized ring style, which implies an evening out and is usually quite ornate and showy, screams "look at me" and is well-suited to the digit that needs the most help in that department.
Wearing one on the index finger of the right hand is also becoming more popular. The index finger is an "active" or dominant digit, and if you wear an oversized ring on it, this draws attention.
CHARACTERISTICS OF A COCKTAIL RING
The statement cocktail ring is a typically large, flamboyant, and pronounced piece of jewelry typically worn on the right hand's middle finger or fourth finger. Historically, it is comprised of a prominent, central jewel surrounded by a coronet of smaller stones. Though the gems needn't all be of the same shape or color, they must appear to "sparkle as one" and never clash.
WHAT ISN'T A COCKTAIL RING
There are no strict regulations regarding cocktail rings, as previously said. As a result, defining what makes it cocktail bling is difficult. However, it's far easier to identify things that aren't considered cocktail rings.
- It isn't a cocktail bling if the band doesn't include any diamonds or precious gemstones, but it is simply metal. Of course, if the metal design is dramatic enough, it is a statement ring. But, if it is plain metal with no embellishments, not even small stones, then it doesn't qualify as cocktail bling.
- This is to nip any confusion with an engagement or wedding ring in the bud. Solitaire diamond rings that feature only one large diamond in the middle are engagement rings. Of course, if the solitaire features a huge center stone surrounded by smaller stones, it is qualifies as cocktail bling.
- It is not cocktail bling if the center stone (or pave diamonds) do not take up enough real estate on your finger. This isn't a hard-and-fast rule, but it's a good guideline.
- If the gemstones are small and enclosed in a pavé setting, it's probably not a cocktail ring. Instead, it is most likely a cluster ring.
- If you wear multiple rings on one finger and blend seamlessly together, that is still not a cocktail jewelry. You are probably wearing a stackable ring set.
*Most statement rings are still the classic design: a large center stone, flanked by other stones or diamonds.
BEFORE BUYING A COCKTAIL RING
Buying a cocktail ring is a difficult choice. Here are some ideas and warnings to think about:
- Only deal with a respectable gemstone dealer. There are many diamond cocktail rings (with synthetic or artificial stones) out there that appear identical to their costly counterparts. Always buy from a reputable dealer, or you risk buying counterfeit diamond stones.
- Fashion cocktail rings usually feature faux diamonds and other gemstones. These faux gems may not be bad, but always remember to get your money's worth in terms of size, color & stones.
- Understand what you're purchasing. Know your diamonds, know your jewels, and know your metal materials. When shopping, some very high-quality gems on the market are heat-treated to enhance their color or clarity, but others are simply glass fakes set in inexpensive metal materials. Before making a purchase, understand what type of crystal you're getting for your money so you're not disappointed in the end.
- Some beautiful cocktail rings contain mostly nickel and other metals, with only a tiny percentage of actual gold. Check for nickel sensitivity before purchasing a low karat gold ring such as 10k gold. First, try to wear it on your ring finger to test for a nickel allergy. Remove it immediately if you notice irritation or redness after several hours on the ring finger.
- Consider your skin tone. Do you have a cool skin tone? If you have a cool skin tone, you'll look your best when you wear cocktail jewelry in platinum, palladium, stainless steel, titanium, or white gold metals, which all have a white color scheme. Platinum, palladium, stainless steel, titanium, and white gold metals give off a sleek, modern vibe. When shopping for a gemstone, you'll look best if you wear vivid, deep jewel tones such as rubies, emeralds, sapphires, etc. Do not wear yellow tones such as yellow gold, or a yellow diamond ring, as it will make your skin look washed out and pale.
- Consider your skin tone. Do you have a warm skin tone? Warm skin tones look fantastic in cocktail jewelry with yellow, rose gold, brass, copper, or pewter tones. It is best to avoid wearing white or silver tones such as platinum metal. When shopping for a gemstone, choose earthy or yellow tones such as citrine, peridot, aquamarine, emerald, or turquoise for your stones.
Gemstone cocktail rings are a great way to express yourself. If you are still unsure what color or type of stone to purchase, ask the jeweler for help.
- Make sure the shape and size of the ring design are proportional to your hand and fingers. A large cocktail ring will draw attention, so choose the appropriate one for your hand. You'll look like a kid wearing your mother's jewelry if it is too big. If it's too small, it will look unbalanced and unflattering.
- Cocktail bling is a classic yet glamorous style. If you're going to invest in a piece, it should be classic and elegant. Make sure its design is timeless so your jewelry investment will stand the test of time.
HOW TO WEAR A COCKTAIL RING
Because these rings have a role in party life, especially at cocktail parties, cocktail rings are often reserved for galas and special occasions. Some people are convinced you should save dramatic cocktail rings for big events, but wear jewelry as you please. While cocktail rings are usually matched with items like a little black dress, you can also pair them nicely with a simple white shirt and some jeans.
CHOOSING A SETTING
The most common setting for a cocktail ring is the prong setting, in which metal claws hold the stone in place. The number of claws can vary in a prong setting, but most cocktail rings have four or six prongs. The more prongs there are, the more secure the stone, but too many prongs can make a ring look cluttered.
We recommend getting the claws surrounding the stones checked annually and having it professionally cleaned every 6 months.
Another setting for a cocktail ring is a bezel setting. In a bezel setting, the metal rim of the setting encircles the stone and holds it in place. Bezel settings can consist of any metal, offering more protection for the stone than prong settings.
ARE COCKTAIL RINGS & ENGAGEMENT RINGS THE SAME?
Yes! While the cocktail ring is not as popular as the diamond engagement ring style as it once was, it is still an option for those who want something a little different. So, if you want to make a statement with your engagement ring, cocktail bling might be the perfect choice. Because cocktail rings are usually quite large, they can be slightly more expensive than other diamond ring styles. So if you're on a budget, you may want to consider a smaller diamond ring, fewer diamonds, and less expensive metal.
Or, consider a semi-precious ring. Given the abundance of sublime and striking semi-precious stones available today, with a little imagination, it is possible to create a show stopping design without busting your budget.
There are a few things to consider before going out and trying to find the best cocktail ring for your fingers:
- It's best to get your cocktail jewelry from a reputable gemstone dealer and understand what you're purchasing before purchasing it.
- The stone should complement your skin tone and hair color. Ensure that there are no loose gems and that the cocktail ring is proportionate to your hand.
- Make sure that the design is timeless.
If you follow these simple guidelines above, you will choose a beautiful cocktail ring that you will enjoy for years to come!