The History and Origin of Cocktail Rings

The history behind cocktail rings is a long and interesting one, with a distinctly American flair. Learning the history and meaning behind a cocktail ring only makes getting one of your own even more meaningful. Read on to learn more about how cocktail rings were introduced to society, what they symbolized and how they have changed over the years.

When Did Cocktail Rings Become Popular?


Cocktail rings date back to the Prohibition days of the 1920s when women started to embrace new fashions and changing roles in society. No longer obligated to wear corsets and full long skirts, flappers dared to wear fabrics that clung and jewels that attracted attention. Many women entered the workforce for the first time and rose to positions of power. More importantly, they were able to earn and spend their own money without depending on fathers or husbands. The cocktail ring also started as a bold statement, part rebellion, and part status symbol.

The Origin and Meaning of Cocktail Rings

Effy Limited Edition 14K White Gold Tanzanite and Diamond Ring, 3.15 TCW

Effy Limited Edition 14K White Gold Tanzanite and Diamond Ring, 3.15 TCW

It’s difficult to imagine a time when drinking a simple cocktail was not only frowned upon but illegal. In the 1920s, women throughout America were trying out new careers, going dancing, and smoking cigarettes. But having a simple glass of wine or cocktail was forbidden, and to get one, you had to seek out a secret speakeasy. These places were often run by shady, illegal types, but frequented by people from all walks of life. The women who dared to drink in these places often wore cocktail rings to draw attention to the fact that they were drinking a forbidden beverage.
Cocktail rings were favored by women who wanted to show off their newfound independence and ability to buy things for themselves. Thus, the tradition of wearing the cocktail ring on the right hand started. This was a deliberate move on the part of some women who wanted to make it clear that the ring was not an engagement ring. By wearing it on the right hand, the woman could make it clear that she had purchased the item with her own money and showcase her earning power.

Effy Signature 14K Rose Gold Emerald and Diamond Panther Ring, 5.69 TCW

Effy Signature 14K Rose Gold Emerald and Diamond Panther Ring, 5.69 TCW

Since being introduced in the 1920s, cocktail rings have enjoyed waves of popularity. They grew in popularity throughout the 1950s, when cocktail parties were in fashion. Women considered them a must have accessory and often had a collection in multiple colors. After falling out of fashion, they surged in popularity again in the 80s, when large accessories of any kind were all the rage. Most recently, cocktail rings became trendy again in the early 2010s due to celebrities being spotted with them on and designers showcasing them on the runway.

If you’re looking for a cocktail ring of your own, Effy Jewelry has a wide selection in yellow and white gold, featuring fine gemstones in every color. Click here to start browsing our selection.

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