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The History of the Cocktail Ring

April 24, 2016 at 10:40 PM

So, why are large, gemstone rings often referred to as “Cocktail Rings”? Interestingly enough, you have the U.S. Government to thank. With the Eighteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution taking effect on January 16th, 1920, the production and sale of alcohol in America came to a halt, kinda. 


As America would learn: Banning things seems to make the desire for them even greater. Though procuring booze was now illegal, it didn’t stop Americans from enjoying it, albeit now under the cover of secrecy. Welcome in: The Speakeasy. These establishments, which ran under the radar of the law, were places where anyone could meet to socialize, drink and party. Before Prohibition, generally the only place to get a drink outside your home or personal flask was a public bar, which often didn’t not cater to or allow women. With the advent of the Speakeasy, women now had the opportunity drink and socialize freely in public.

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Being the early 1920’s, the Art Deco movement was in full swing, literally. There was great social chain occurring across the United States, especially for women. Working women increased dramatically and voting allowed a lot of new found freedom and pride. As shown in novels like The Great Gatsby, immense wealth was also generating a new and youthful society and women of that society embraced it. They cut their hair short, wore flattering and often risqué outfits, and drank alcohol commonly for the first time. Because of the the strong-tasting and low quality of the alcohol produced during Prohibition, it led to the creation of a new drink: The Cocktail. Cocktails masked the strength and taste of the alcohol and made drinks more palatable, which appealed to women who didn’t like their Bathtub Gin neat. 


Acquiring those delicious cocktails in attendance of Speakeasies and the clandestine parties where they were found, had it’s allure. Imbibing a Mint Julep or a Bee’s Knees in the company of others was as much a status symbol as anything one could wear. For a lot of women, drinking a Gin Rickey while dancing to Jazz was as important as making sure that everyone ‘noticed’ you drinking your rebellious illicit beverage. It was the 1920s after all, and what better way to garner that attention than with a large and glamorous Art Deco ring gleaming in the light next to your French 75? And so from the desire to be seen, the Cocktail Ring was born. 


Throughout the Art Deco period, many beautiful and eye catching platinum and gemstone rings were worn and adored. As the period waned, so did it’s proportions and sensibilities. On the heals of the Deco period came the Retro era, which ushered in large and in-charge cocktail rings. Often 20, 30 and 40 carat Citrine and Aquamarine Cocktail Rings were seen as common sized evening rings. Though the largeness of the era also waned, one aspect of the Cocktail Ring remained: Beautiful Boldness. In the nearly 100 year since the invention of the Cocktail Ring, one thing remains true: Nothing goes with champagne like sparkles.




Tags: Ruby Cocktail Cocktail Ring Statement Ring Gemstone History Prohibition Emerald Diamond Sapphire Citrine Aquamarine Gold 14k 18k Platinum
Category: The Curious lore of Gemstones

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