The Cocktail Ring—is it gaudy or is it a symbol of freedom and self-expression?

The cocktail ring project seemed like a good project to fulfill my promise  to share insight into Cocktail Ring--this beading pattern can be found in Casual Bead Elegance, Stitch by Stitchmy book Casual Bead Elegance, Stitch by Stitch (available for the 2016 holiday season).

The cocktail ring project was inspired by my Grandmother. You might have guessed this by the project’s title—Grandmother’s Cocktail Ring. She had a passion for jewelry. The piece of jewelry that I always associated with her was the cocktail ring. Cocktail RingPerhaps it was because I thought it seemed a bit incongruous with her diminutive stature.  I remember her saying to me when I was a child that I could eat an apple off her head. (As a full grown woman, I am only 5’ 4” tall.) Today, I associate the cocktail ring with merriment. The research I did might have uncovered the reason for this association.

Note:Links to the sources of information used to write this post are at the bottom of post. Click on the links to learn more.

Origin of the Cocktail Ring

You might see the cocktail ring differently after you learn about its origin. It is linked back to a time in America called Prohibition. A time when the US government banned alcoholic beverages. This took place during the 1920’s. It was a time period filled with tension between traditional values rooted in pre-war nostalgia and the dramatic social and political changes taking place. Women not only gained the right to vote, but also increasingly worked outside the home during this decade. Women changed their attire dramatically too. Here are some examples. They traded in restrictive corsets and long dresses for shorter hemlines and trousers. The term “flapper” was coined as a way of describing a new breed of young women. The women cut their hair into a bob, wore make-up, smoke, drank and danced to the latest musical craze known as jazz.

The result of the government’s ban on alcohol, seemed to be the opposite of what they intended. It turned cocktails and cocktail parties into a status symbol as big as anything you could wear. The flappers would not let the ban on alcohol deter them from their good times. They sought out hidden speakeasies. A place where they could take part in the underground cocktail scene. It also lead to other excesses, norm breaking, and methods of attention seeking, such as the cocktail ring.  The original eye-catching design of the cocktail ring was a large center stone that was accented with pavé diamonds. Perhaps flappers saw these rings as an effective method of drawing attention to the fact that they were sipping illicit alcoholic beverages.
Cocktail Ring--pattern can be found in Casual Bead Elegance, Stitch by Stitch
What do you think? Are cocktail rings a symbol of when women were enjoying their freedom, by breaking the norms and through self-expression or just gaudy?

Cocktail Ring History Links


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