Are you wondering how and when to wear a cocktail ring? Cocktail rings are a feminist symbol from the era of illicit 1920s speakeasy parties. Our complete guide explains their juicy history and fun facts – and most importantly, how to wear these big, bold rings so they complement your personal style.
Included in this article:
- What is a cocktail ring?
- Why cocktail rings are a symbol of feminism
- How to choose a gem for your cocktail ring
- What ring suits your hand shape?
- Styling cocktail rings with your outfit
- Tips and inspiration for rings
What is a cocktail ring?
You have seen them – bold, eye-catching and unique!
Statement rings, also known as cocktail rings, are larger than normal fashion rings. They usually showcase an oversized gem, diamond or metal motif.
Statement rings help you express your style and personality.
A 1920’s symbol of feminism
The cocktail ring fashion started in the USA in the 1920s. It was a booming decade that gave birth to feminism and the Prohibition Law that made alcohol illegal.
Thanks to these political trends, the rebellious, independent flapper girls of the time who wanted to party despite the Prohibition law, would turn up at illicit parties wearing showy dresses and jewellery.
At the bar, they’d raise their right hand to flash the bartender a large ring – a secret signal for ordering forbidden alcoholic drinks.
Hence the name, cocktail ring, and why statement rings are traditionally worn on the right hand.
TV program ‘The Roaring 20s’ | Image Wikipedia © Warner Brothers Television 1960-62
How to wear statement rings today
Today, there are no rules. Therefore, nowadays you can wear your cocktail rings on any hand or any finger, one or many at a time.
There’s a cocktail ring for every occasion
- For the office, choose something minimalistic so it’s not “too much”
- Formal events are perfect for your biggest, most glamorous rings
- Casual occasions with friends are great for quirky, playful rings
Wearing only one ring
If you want your statement ring to attract attention, then let it play a starring role.
Do this by keeping the rest of your jewellery understated.
Can I wear multiple rings?
Yes! You shouldn’t be afraid to wear more than one statement ring. A great way to do this is to match colours while playing with different textures so the rings complement each other.
Best gemstones for cocktail rings
The most popular gems used in statement rings are:
- White gems – diamonds, pearls, opal
- Red gems – garnet, ruby
- Green gems – emerald, green sapphire, peridot
- Yellow gems – citrine, fire opal
- Blue gems – blue topaz, blue sapphire, aquamarine
- Purple gems – amethyst, tanzanite
3 Tips to choose a gem for your cocktail ring
1. You could simply pick a gem that suits an outfit, or…
2. Wear a gem with personal significance like your birthstone, or…
3. Pick one based on how drawn you are to a gem colour.
The best metal for the setting of your cocktail ring
When it comes to jewellery for daily wear like engagement rings, you should invest in a durable (but more expensive) metal like platinum or 18K gold.
However, if you’re buying a fashion ring for occasional wear only, you’re safe to choose a more affordable metal like 9K gold, silver or gold vermeil.
Match your skin tone with the gem colour
Warm skin tones – If the veins on your inner wrist are greenish, you have a warm skin tone. Jewellery set in yellow gold with red or golden gems looks great on you.
Cool skin tones – If the veins on the inside of your wrist look blue, your skin tone is cool. Silver and white gold, with pastel blue, violet and pink gems flatter you.
All skin tones – Whatever your skin tone, you cannot go wrong with diamonds, pearls, quartz and other white gems.
What cocktail ring suits your hand shape?
- Petite hands – a slim band and a simple design will look best
- Long fingers – you can carry off a really big, striking design
- Wide fingers – pick a ring that covers as much of the width of your finger as possible
- Short fingers – choose an elongated design to make your fingers look longer
Read more about how to choose a ring to suit your handshape.
5 Tips to style a cocktail ring with your outfit
- A ring shouldn’t clash with your outfit, so pick your clothes first
- A solid-coloured ring will look best with patterned clothing
- Multi-coloured gems look great with plain clothes
- A bright-coloured gem pops against black, grey and white clothing
- Finally, match your ring to your nail polish and accessories to pull your look together
Vintage-style cocktail rings
Antique rings are beautiful, but they can be expensive and tricky to combine with modern clothing.
New rings that pay homage to vintage eras are a great alternative. You can flaunt touches of retro style – yet your ring will be affordable and easy to match with today’s fashion.
Read 7 Best Vintage Jewellery Styles to learn more.
Caring for your ring
Giving a little love and care to your fabulous ring means you can enjoy it for many years to come:
- Put your ring on after your clothes, to prevent snagging
- Check the claws surrounding the stones regularly
- Clean it in a bowl with an old toothbrush, warm water and soap
- Don’t wear rings while cleaning, in the shower, swimming, on the beach or in the gym
- If your ring is expensive, get it insured
Some final tips
Cocktail rings draw attention to your hands, so don’t forget to get a manicure. Finally, confidence is key. The purpose of a statement ring is to catch the eye, so flaunt it and enjoy the attention!