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Cocktail Ring Buying Guide

Coral cocktail ring gold with turquoise beads around Amethyst and diamond cocktail ring

All about buying cocktail rings

Available in several shades of colors and in bold, shiny patterns, cocktail rings made their dramatic appearance in the early 1920s. These rings had over-sized center stones surrounded by a cluster of smaller stones and they reached the peak of their popularity.

This cocktail rings buying guide will give you all the colorful details about these vintage cocktail rings and how to choose the best cocktail ring for you.

What is a cocktail ring?

Lilac-center stone and diamond cocktail ring 

Cocktail rings are elaborately designed rings with large flashy stones that will draw attention. They are all made with colorful stones that sparkle and include intricate carvings.

 Some have archaic motifs and are fully made of metals.

Whether they are carved out of pure gold, platinum, or silver, or made with humble stainless steel and copper, cocktail rings are always a statement piece of jewelry.

Oftentimes, the ring has a variety of semi-precious stones embedded in it but it is not unusual to spot either a synthetic stone or a truly expensive gemstone in it!

The interesting history of vintage cocktail rings

Vintage cocktail ring with lion-head motif in gold-plated metal

Often dubbed ‘the turbulent 1920s’, the period saw constant struggle between those upholding traditions and the others demanding a total change after the war – both politically and socially.

It was now that women were allowed to vote and start working out of the confines of their home. During this Jazz Age, the way women dressed themselves and cut their hair short was nothing short of a complete metamorphosis.

In Europe and America, women attended cocktail parties that were the order of the day, wore such flashy diamond cocktail rings and huge emerald cocktail rings as they sipped alcoholic beverages.

In that era of repression, women wore the cocktail ring more as a symbol of their independence and freedom. This fashion returned after the 70s, with the stones of the cocktail ring getting bigger and brighter.

Do cocktail rings have fake stones?

Cocktail rings in different colored rectangular synthetic gemstones on gold-plated metal

Cocktail rings generally have fake gemstones of different colors but it is not a rule.

There is always an emerald cocktail ring, an authentic opal cocktail ring, or a flamboyant sapphire cocktail ring for the connoisseur available at reputed jewel houses.

Since, by design, cocktail rings almost always have a large center-stone, it would be extremely pricey to have them made with genuine stones and expensive metals. So, these rings are usually made with affordable gems and metals such as plated gold and silver.

How to choose a cocktail ring

Large pink ruby and diamond cocktail ring with the diamonds studded at the fringes

The main reason for wearing a cocktail ring is for creating a dramatic effect and drawing attention and there are a few points to remember when you buy your cocktail ring.

With its dazzling display of colored gems, cocktail rings are pieces of jewelry that no true ring-lover can resist owning.

Choose them well after considering these factors.

Match your dresses

Remember that cocktail rings are not very versatile because of the size and color of the gemstones and the metal in them.

Your aquamarine cocktail ring with diamonds could look stunning by itself but you cannot pair it with your golden yellow crepe dress!

So, you have to plan ahead of the outfits you would like to wear the cocktail ring with. Consider your wardrobe and your favorite dresses before choosing the ring.

Also think of the places and occasions you will wear it. Match the ring with your style of clothes.

Match your jewelry

Your finger rings must always complement your other jewelry. If you have silver jewelry and buy a gold-plated opal cocktail ring, it won’t match well.

Since cocktail rings are not subtle, they don’t look their best if they are stacked. Your cocktail ring will be the most prominent piece of your outfit, so the other jewelry must be mellow.

Choose the setting for the cocktail ring

Setting is an important element when you design any ring. It is far more important in a cocktail ring because of the big stones in it.

Most of these rings have channel, bezel. Pave, or prong setting which are solid enough to support the large stone. Make sure the stone is not loose.

Choose the metal for the ring

gold matt-finish cocktail ring in unique pattern white metal and gold circles braided cocktail ring green tourmaline square cocktail ring bordered with diamond stones 

Cocktail rings are crafted with a variety of metals depending on the design and the gemstone used.

Most common of the metals used are gold, white gold, rose gold, silver, platinum, tungsten, titanium, and stainless steel.

Large gemstones need a hard metal to hold them firmly in place.

How to wear your cocktail ring?

Though these rings may be worn on any finger, they are not flaunted on the ring finger of the left hand which is exclusively for the wedding ring.

Cocktail rings are sported on the ring finger of the right hand and even the index finger. Some prefer the middle finger because it showcases the beauty of the large gems from a vantage point.

How to care for your cocktail ring

As with all rings that have gemstones encrusted in them, cocktail rings with natural gemstones as well as those with synthetic gems have to be cleaned with care.

  • Remember that different gems have different reaction to heat, light, and chemicals. Some are very sensitive to certain chemicals.
  • Some small crystals, stones that have inclusions, and stones that are fractured will be weak and need to be handled delicately while cleaning.
  • Hardness of a stone on Mohs scale does not mean the stone is indestructible. It only means it can resist scratches. Inclusions may render it weak and cause it to react negatively to mechanical cleaning.
  • If your cocktail ring has pearl or amber (sensitive gems), make sure the commercial cleaner you use does not have ammonia or other harsh chemicals.
  • Soak the cocktail ring in warm water with a mild detergent dissolved in it. After some time clean it with a soft brush (not toothbrush) and rinse it thoroughly with warm water. You may use a toothpick to remove accumulated dirt.
  • A camel hair brush used by artists is highly recommended for cleaning the facets of the gemstone.
  • If your cocktail ring has genuine gems in it, then take care to use your colognes and perfumes before you put on your ring. Alcohol and other chemicals can affect the gemstone’s brilliance.

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