What Are Cocktail Rings & How to Wear Them With Style

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. This article covers their juicy history, inspiration for ring styles, how to wear cocktail rings so they complement your look, and more.

What is a cocktail ring?

You have seen them: big, bold and unique. Cocktail rings, also known as statement rings, are larger-than-normal rings. They usually showcase an oversized gem or an extravagant design. Statement rings can help you express your style and personality, or to pull together a look.

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A 1920’s symbol of feminism

Cocktail rings were born in the USA during the 1920s. Several political and social trends contributed to their invention. Firstly, the Prohibition Law had made alcohol illegal. Secondly, women were becoming more independent than before, demanding the right to vote, and seeking work outside of the home, thus making an income of their own.

As a result, independent “flapper girls” began rebelling against the social norm. This included going out to illicit speakeasy parties on their own, wearing fancy, short cocktail dresses and extravagant jewellery.

Drinking was of course illegal at the time, but some bars allowed it in secret. This led to women developing a code to order drinks. They’d raise their right hand and flash a large gemstone ring at the bartender. This way, the bar staff knew they wanted to be served an alcoholic cocktail. Hence the name, “cocktail ring”. It’s also the reason why large gemstone rings are traditionally worn on the right hand.

How to wear a cocktail ring today

As explained above, traditionally, cocktail rings are worn on the right hand. However, today, there are no rules. Therefore, you can wear your cocktail ring on any hand or finger. If you want your statement piece to attract attention, then let it play a starring role. Do this by wearing only one cocktail ring, and keeping the rest of your jewellery understated.

Can you wear multiple cocktail 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.

There’s a cocktail ring for every occasion

Cocktail rings are not just for parties, you can wear them any time. For the office, choose a ring that is minimalistic so it’s not “too much”. Formal events, on the other hand, are perfect for wearing your biggest, most luxurious and glamorous rings. Finally, casual occasions with friends are great for quirky, playful rings that bring out your personality.

How to wear a statement ring – Complete guide to cocktail rings and big fashion rings

Style tips for wearing a cocktail ring

Firstly, always pick a cocktail ring style that suits your outfit. For example, if you’re wearing a minimalistic suit, make sure your ring’s design matches the understated lines of your clothing. Secondly, make it meaningful. For instance, wear a gem with personal significance like your birthstone or your anniversary gem. Alternatively, wear a ring that reminds you of someone or someplace special. Thirdly, play with colour. You can do this by adding a pop of bright colour to a black and white outfit, or matching the ring’s colour to your other accessories.

Best gemstone colours for cocktail rings

The most popular gems used in cocktail 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, turquoise
  • Purple gems – amethyst, tanzanite

Discover more about the meaning of gem colour in rings here.

The best metal for a cocktail ring setting

When it comes to lifelong jewellery, like engagement rings, you should definitely invest in a durable metal like platinum or 18K gold. However, if you’re buying a cocktail ring for occasional use only, then it’s safe to choose a more affordable metal like 9K gold, silver or gold vermeil. As long as you wear and store it carefully, you’ll get a lifetime of joy out of your statement piece.

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What about vintage cocktail rings?

Antique rings are beautiful, but they can be expensive and tricky to combine with modern clothing. New rings that have designs 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 about choosing vintage style jewellery.

Cocktail rings: some final tips and thoughts

Cocktail rings offer you style and meaning. Firstly, they’re a great way to elevate an outfit. Secondly, they speak volumes about your personality and fashion sense. Thirdly, cocktail rings are a symbol of feminism, so they can be a meaningful piece for you to wear.

Confidence is key when wearing a cocktail ring, so the bigger and bolder you go, the better. As a final tip, cocktail rings draw attention to your hands, so don’t forget to get a manicure. The purpose of a cocktail ring is to catch the eye, so flaunt it and enjoy the attention.

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