The Accessory With An Illicit Past
Have you ever wondered where the term "cocktail ring" came from?
In 1920 the Prohibition Era began with the passing of Volstead Act- "to provide enforcement for the Eighteenth Amendment, prohibiting the manufacture and sale of alcoholic beverages". This new law only drove alcohol sales underground, and as officials shut down bars across the country, speakeasies sprang up everywhere.
Once inside their favorite speakeasy, bartenders created elaborate cocktails to disguise the alcohol and taste of the low-quality bootlegged versions. Anti-Prohibition parties were a magnet for the upper class.
What's the password? Female Empowerment.
It was a time of decadence and excessive behavior. Freedom of all kinds were being celebrated.
Women in particular were fighting for the right to vote and equality. On August 18, 1920, the 19th amendment was ratified and granted women the right to vote. Needless to say, there was much to celebrate, and celebrate they did!
Women's independence was expressed in a new fashion- bold, glamorous jewelry!
One way to flaunt their newly attained independence was to adorn their fingers with large diamonds and gemstones.
Whilst sipping their favorite cocktail, women made sure their coveted jewels were seen. By wearing their rings on the right hand verses the left, which was traditionally reserved for a wedding ring, it signaled she had bought it with her own money.
The cocktail ring had a fabulous run up until 1929 when the Great Depression hit. From 1929 to 1939 the cocktail ring lay by the wayside, virtually unseen until the 1940's.
In the 1940's cocktail rings made a brief comeback as women started to attend operas and go to parties again. Then once again the cocktail ring was tucked back into her jewelry box due to World War II.
Following WWII there was focus on the film industry and the glamour of movie stars creating a resurgence with the cocktail ring.
Women found inspiration from the film stars to purchase their own brilliant and colorful pieces.
In the 1970's women opted to express their independence with another bold accessory- the hoop earring. (see our post on The History of The Hoop).
Once the 1980's rolled around the cocktail ring was back in swing and has remained a staple ever since, in current terms- the statement ring.
Most women today adorn the one statement piece they can wear out to dinner, to parties, special occasions, or simply just for fun!
So today we raise our glass, wearing the shiniest, boldest cocktail rings on hand, to the women who led the way.
Sources: Legends of America, Phoenicia.NY, Veranda,Wikipedia.