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What is a Cocktail Ring? Explained (2023 Updated)

What Is a Cocktail Ring

Last Updated on October 10, 2023 by Lydia Martin

Men and women love to accessorize, and a cocktail ring is widely seen in special events to complete luxurious outfits. 

But do you know that a cocktail ring is more than a bold and dramatic accessory? The ring has a social and political connection and history.  

So, what is it? and what lies behind its rich history? Read on to find out. 

Cocktail Ring & Its Definition

cocktail ring with blue stone

The cocktail ring is a large, pronounced, and flamboyant ring usually worn on the fourth or middle finger of the right hand.

Apart from being an accessory, it was a rebellious status symbol that first emerged in the 1920s, during the Prohibition Era, when it was illegal to produce, import, transport, and sell alcoholic drinks [1]. 

Such rings were a perfect accessory at secret anti-prohibition parties in cities and towns across the USA during this time. In the 1920s, it was an emblem of female independence and equality.

It has been part of today’s fashion meant to create conversation and attract attention. You can wear it at dinner parties and formal events. 

Read: Why People Dip Their Fingers In Whiskey

History Of The Cocktail Ring 

Cocktail rings symbolized feminism in the 1920s, and several social and political trends contributed to its invention. 

It was invented around the Prohibition Law when alcohol was legal, and women sought to be more independent and equally treated in society. 

“Prohibition became the same sort of political football that people on either side would use trying to struggle to get it towards their goal, which was control of the country,” – Daniel Okrent, Author

Drinking is illegal, but some bars allow it in secret [2], so women developed a code to order drinks by wearing this type of ring. 

As they raise their right hand and flash the ring to the bartender, the bar staff knows they want an alcoholic cocktail. 

What Is The Purpose Of A Cocktail Ring?

Close Up Shot of Cocktail Ring

Cocktail rings are traditionally worn as jewelry at cocktail parties and other gatherings.

Before it became a fashion statement ring, it was a symbol of feminism and opposition in the Prohibition Era. 

In the 1960s, there was a sharp decline in the popularity of cocktail rings as fashion and attitude dramatically changed. 

But in the 1980s, with the gender-neutral motif and big hair, it became popular again as a sophisticated accessory. 

These rings are meant for something other than everyday wear as they are typically worn on special events as statement pieces to gather attention. 

Who wouldn’t be attracted to vintage cocktail rings and their colorful and blinding glory?

For style tips, an outfit like a little black dress or an evening gown matches great. 

Read: Top Cocktail Drinks Recipes

Its Characteristics 

Generally speaking, during Prohibition, those who attended the illicit parties were wealthy and well-connected, which means cocktail rings were expensive, big, and brassy, with a massive stone at the center. 

It often comes with a large diamond in the center and smaller stones or smaller diamonds comprising a halo. 

However, due to the high price of large gemstones, jewelers use semi-precious stones like blue sapphire, blue topaz, amethyst, emeralds, and turquoise as the center stone. 

How Do You Wear It?  

hand wearing a ring

Statement rings like cocktail rings are worn on the index or middle finger of the right hand to provide a separation from personal rings like an engagement ring or wedding ring. 

It is intended to be worn during specific occasions and by no means an everyday wear ring. 

You can wear multiple cocktail rings and other rings on the same hand, provided other cocktail rings complement each other. 

Read: Top Sour Cocktails You Should Try

When Is It Not Considered A Cocktail Ring? 

While there are no rules to what cocktail rings should look like, some things can help you identify what is not considered a cocktail ring.

  • If it is just a metal, silver, white gold, rose gold, or platinum band without any stones and not large enough.
  • If it features only one diamond in the center, it is a diamond ring or an engagement ring. 

Differences Between A Cocktail Ring & A Wedding Ring 

ring on a jewelry box

The cocktail ring should be on the index or center finger of your right hand, while a wedding ring should be on the ring finger of your left hand. 

Wedding bands do not have large gemstones or centerpieces, while cocktail rings should have. Also, wedding bands can be an everyday ring, while cocktail rings are used occasionally. 


Can you wear a cocktail ring every day?

No, you cannot wear a cocktail ring every day. While wearing it is fun and luxurious, it is often reserved for special occasions like a gala event as a statement piece to complete your luxurious outfit. 

Which finger do you wear a cocktail ring?

You should wear a cocktail ring on your middle or fourth finger. 

Can you wear a cocktail ring on your wedding finger?

Yes, you can wear a cocktail ring on your wedding finger. However, it is traditionally worn on your right hand. 

To Sum It Up

The cocktail ring is a large ring with a colorful and precious big stone surrounded by smaller ones to intensify the sparkle. 

Before it became a popular piece of jewelry, it was a rebellious symbol during Prohibition and was used by women as a secret code to order an alcoholic cocktail. 

You can wear it anywhere, but it is often worn on your right hand’s middle or index finger. If you cannot afford diamonds, go for an amethyst, sapphire, or aquamarine cocktail ring. 


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