No woman’s jewelry collection is complete without at least one cocktail ring. These statement-making pieces can accompany you to every formal occasion for effortless allure or to add a touch of elegance to any everyday outfit. Keep reading for a glimpse into the rich history of these accessories and some helpful styling tips. 

What is a Cocktail Ring?

A cocktail ring is basically a statement ring. These accessories are large and crafted with complex, eye-catching details, often showcasing vintage motifs. Typically, women wear them on their right hand to differentiate them from engagement rings.

A trio of gold plated statement rings with different colored gemstones
Featuring: Statement Rings by JTV

The History of the Cocktail Ring

Many people wonder why it is called a “cocktail ring,” and the answer traces back to a fascinating period of history - the Prohibition era of the 1920s.  

For women, the 1920s were an era of increased autonomy, and this was demonstrated by the flapper subculture. Flappers took pleasure in diverting from social norms, listening to jazz, driving cars, drinking and wearing bobbed hair, short skirts and cocktail rings. These bold rings fit perfectly within the flapper style and became the accessory of choice for women drinking cocktails at speakeasies and celebrating their independence.  

Today, many of the most fashionable and admired women continue to sport cocktail rings. From Princess Diana and Jacqueline Kennedy to Angelina Jolie and Renee Zellweger, these are just a few examples. Clearly, wearing a cocktail ring is a great way to channel self-confidence, pay tribute to history and possess timeless style.

A silver and green pear-shaped statement ring
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How to Style Cocktail Rings

There are so many options for styling cocktail rings. Traditionally, these rings are reserved for formal events because of their extravagant looks, and there really is no better way to turn up the charm and stand out from the crowd. Whether you’re going to a nice dinner and dancing or attending a 1920s or “The Great Gatsby” themed party, these rings will add a glitzy finishing touch to your outfit. 

A cocktail ring adorned with colored gemstones looks very classy and coordinated with a slip dress in the same color. Another look that can really make the colors of your ring pop is a silk blouse and tailored dress pants in neutral colors.

However, the spirit of cocktail rings is all about breaking the rules. Don’t let anyone tell you that these rings are only for formal evening wear! There are plenty of ways for you to enjoy these works of jewelry art on an everyday basis.

Style a cocktail ring with a lacy white blouse, jeans and strappy sandals or heels for a lovely brunch look, or pair one with a smart blazer, a graphic tee, jeans and boots to create a look that’s perfect for a downtown trip with friends.

A woman holding two pink statement rings
Featuring: Statement Rings by JTV

How to Take Care of Your Cocktail Rings

Cocktail rings can sometimes be tricky to maintain because they have gemstones, and gemstones and metal require different types of care. 

Luckily, many of the stones commonly featured in cocktail rings, such as diamond, sapphire, emerald and ruby, rank high on the Mohs Hardness Scale and can withstand a lot of wear. They are not terribly sensitive to temperature changes and ultrasonic or steam cleaners. However, simply scrubbing these gems gently with warm water, mild dish soap and a soft brush will restore their beauty. 

Three gold plated statement rings in different gemstone colors
Featuring: Statement Rings by JTV

When it comes to cleaning the ring band, there are different methods depending on the type of metal. Sterling silver is durable but susceptible to tarnishing that you need to scrub off using an abrasive, such as baking soda with water. Gold, on the other hand, is softer and will get scratched if it comes into contact with abrasives.

Some of the more delicate gems, such as pearl, opal or turquoise, will also get damaged if you use anything harder than mild soap water and a soft cloth to clean them. If you happen to have  a cocktail ring with a delicate gemstone, be very careful when cleaning the metal band (especially if it is silver). 

Three statement rings in red, white and blue sitting next to each other on a white stand
Featuring: Statement Rings by JTV

Now that you’re acquainted with the interesting backstory of cocktail rings, as well as how to style and clean them, you’re ready to find your own! These creative statement pieces are a fantastic way to create unique looks and display your individual personality with pride. 

Frequently Asked Questions About Cocktail Rings

Why is it called a cocktail ring?

It is called a cocktail ring because they first became popular in the 1920s, when women would wear them to go to speakeasies and drink cocktails. 

Which finger is best for a cocktail ring?

People usually wear cocktail rings on one of their right-hand fingers.

When can you wear a cocktail ring?

Usually, people wear cocktail rings to formal evening occasions, but it is perfectly fine to wear one whenever and wherever you want. 

Erin McIntyre

A colorful statement ring is Erin’s go-to accessory and she thinks the Art Deco era has some of the best aesthetics (she read “The Great Gatsby” for fun). This was one of her favorite blogs to write!

Read more about Erin on her author page

Erin McIntyre