Cocktail party season is here, and what with the return of the ’80s – shoulder pads, power pant suits, ruffle blouses – you will need some serious party baubles to carry off the look. Next to massive earrings and a large-scale Y-necklace, the cocktail ring tops the trends in jewelry this season. Holding a glass of champagne (or something stronger) at seasonal shindigs calls attention to the hand, and it should be adorned with the proper accessory.
The cocktail ring got its name during the 1920s as a sign of rebellion against Prohibition, when cocktails were illegal – can you imagine? The big, right-hand ring was part of a movement among women to abandon restrictive corsets, long hemlines and stifling rules of behavior. They wore makeup and they danced and they donned oversized rings to draw attention to the fact that they were boldly sipping contraband.
Cocktail rings are no longer just for cocktail hour, but the purpose is the same: to make a statement. The aesthetic is big and bold, with fine jewelry now approaching the scale of costume jewelry. The boldness derives from surprising combinations of colors, as well as interesting juxtapositions of precious and semi-precious gems – combining a big blue tanzanite, for example, with small blue sapphires or blue topaz.
Flowers are the strongest motif, with large, showpiece center stones surrounded by halos of petals in various colors. Center stones are increasingly cut into fancy shapes – ovals, cushion cuts and pears are hot – using more and more exotic gems, including rare, electric-blue Paraiba tourmaline, soft pink morganite (named for financier J.P. Morgan, who loved gemstones), and tanzanite, which is found in one place and one place only: Tanzania.
There is nothing wrong with a big diamond, as any woman will tell you, but the rings to accessorize your seasonal party dresses relegate diamonds to the periphery as accent stones, in favor of bold colored gemstones, which are far more fun and adventurous – and mostly more accessible – than boring diamonds.
Carol Besler has written about watches and jewelry for nearly 30 years. She has featured articles in Watch Time, Robb Report, Nuvo, Hollywood Reporter and Rapaport.