​The Fascinating History of Cocktail Rings

​The Fascinating History of Cocktail Rings

Aug 3rd 2017

Sparkling diamonds, mesmerizing rubies, and glorious emeralds, when it comes to cocktail rings, they are most certainly not for the subtle, minimalist. Today, we often think of a cocktail ring as any oversized statement ring; however, looking back at the history of cocktail rings, we see that there’s much more to the story.

Prohibition and Cocktail Rings

Cocktail rings first became a trend in jewelry during the American Prohibition era, specifically the 1920s. During Prohibition, alcohol was completely banned. However, many people resisted this change. Illegal drinking parties were thrown, alcoholic beverages were hidden in boots (eventually to be known as ‘bootlegging’), and speakeasies began popping up to illegally sell the substance.

All this to say that Prohibition was a time of great resistance and change.

The Role of Women and Cocktail Rings

Most notably, the role of women started to evolve once given the right to vote during this era. This freedom translated into the fashion of the time: shorter skirts, shorter hair, and flashy or ‘art deco’ jewelry became widely popular. Prior to this, much more subtle jewelry would have been worn.

Not only was the fashion changing, but women’s behaviors were as well. Women began to smoke and drink in public, which would have been frowned upon in past decades, especially considering the illegal status of alcohol at the time. Prior to the 1920s, one would have never seen a woman with short hair and flashy jewelry, smoking a cigarette in a bar. It was simply unheard of.

In addition, due to the difficulty of obtaining the banned substance, alcohol potency was not as strong. This meant bartenders had to get more creative with their concoctions, which resulted in the creation of cocktails that were much more pleasing to the palette of women. Not only that, but less potent alcohol meant it was easier to drink, further enticing women into bars to sip on these newly discovered, “tasty” cocktails.

The Emergence of the Cocktail Ring

It was at this point that the cocktail ring took residence upon the fingers of many women.


Essentially a cocktail ring acted as a status symbol for any women sipping on a cocktail. Simply having alcohol in your possession at a time where the product was scarce and technically banned, was a symbol of your high-class status. Once you added an oversized statement ring to your finger, it was impossible not to notice your illegal drink and flashy ring. The cocktail ring was meant to draw attention to your wealth and status, acting as the perfect accessory as you held your drink.

And so, these overly flashy, bigger-than-life rings, often worn by women sipping on cocktails, were rightfully dubbed the ‘cocktail ring’.

Cocktail Rings Today

Fortunately, while the cocktail ring may have received its namesake during a rather tumultuous era, no longer is a ‘cocktail’ ring synonymous with the act of drinking. Nowadays, cocktail rings are adorned by many, all year round, during various occasions.

As the destination spot for jewelry in Newport Beach, California, we invite people from all over the world to browse through our online collection of beautiful rings. We guarantee they won’t disappoint.