Posted on August 29 2018
The amazing history of cocktail rings goes back to when they were a symbol of rebellion and independence. This was sparked by the Prohibition which swept across America almost a century ago and its cultural changes particularly with women – changed forever.
The 1920s were a period filled with tension between traditional values rooted in pre-war nostalgia and the dramatic social and political changes taking place. Frequently referred to as the ‘Roaring 20s’ or the ‘Jazz Age’, this decade gave rise to the growing number of women who not only gained the right to vote but also increasingly worked outside the home. Clothing styles changed as women abandoned restrictive corsets and long dresses in favour of shorter hemlines and trousers. The term ‘flapper’ was used to describe a new breed of young women, both in the United States and Europe, who cut their hair into a bob, wore make-up, smoked, drank and danced with abandon to the latest jazz music.
Alcohol was banned, but this didn’t stop partygoers from seeking out hidden speakeasies, often run by gangsters, where entry could only be gained via a secret code word. ‘Flappers’ on the underground cocktail scene would wear oversized rings to draw attention to the fact that they were sipping illicit alcoholic beverages. In fact, the cocktail culture that endured long after the 1920s was spurred on by the Prohibition as the contraband alcohol tasted so bad that it had to be mixed with other ingredients to make it drinkable.
Cocktail Rings as a Symbol of Independence
In this new era freedom, a bold cocktail ring was also a way for women to flaunt their independence. Usually worn on the right hand, the ring was not a wedding band and had most likely been bought with a woman's own money. This is a sentiment that lives on even in today’s less restrictive society.
In the 1950s and 60s, the cocktail ring became the standard dress-up accessory for women heading to a cocktail party, restaurant or night at the opera. It briefly went out of fashion in the 1970s only to return even bigger and bolder in the power-dressing 80s, when women wore oversized rings during the day and night.
The cocktail ring is now a firm accessory in any women’s wardrobe from the bold, to elegant these rings all have one thing in common – they are all “noticeable”.
Cocktail rings are not understated, but are bold in colour and almost exaggerated in size, yet their show-stopping colour and design is can be beautiful and exquisite.
Smales Jewellers periodically celebrate the ‘cocktail ring by handcrafting a beautiful collection for the Australian market and have been for over 75 years. Each design, is marked with the Smales engraving, and the stones are hand selected by the family who still own and operate the business today.
You can explore their heavenly ranges at smales.com.au or visit a showroom in Subiaco, Bunbury, Karratha, Kalgoorlie and Geraldton.
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