Mood Rings: Materials & How Does It work?

If you’re looking for a piece of jewelry that’s a little different, mood rings are the perfect choice. Their changing colors are said to reflect the mood of the wearer.

And because emotion forms part of the look, they’re a perfect choice for a wedding or other special occasion. Put one on and you’ll be able to wear your heart on your sleeve – or finger!

mood rings
Image: something borrowed

But where did mood rings come from, and just how do they work? Read on and we’ll share some fascinating facts about this intriguing piece of jewelry.

When were the first mood rings created?

Mood rings were invented in 1975 by an enterprising pair of New Yorkers named Maris Ambats and Josy Reynolds. They were the first to come up with the idea of bonding liquid crystals with quartz to create a stone that changed color.

Reynolds seems to have been the brains behind the operation. He was working in a stressful job on Wall Street at the time, and was fascinated by the idea of biofeedback. That’s the theory that, by using instruments to better understand your body, you can actually control your body’s internal systems.

The mood ring was designed to be one such instrument, providing a simple visual clue to the wearer’s emotional state. Reynolds theorized that this would enable people to better control their feelings through meditation.

The first mood rings were set in gold or “silvery” settings, and the prices varied accordingly. They became enormously popular in the 1970s, with over 40 million sold within three months of hitting the shops.

Although rings were the first piece of jewelry to attempt to read the mood, other experiments quickly followed. Bracelets, pendants, and chokers were all produced.

But by the end of the decade, the popularity of mood jewelry had faded. Mood rings enjoyed a brief resurgence in the early 90s, before being forgotten about once more. Nowadays, a mood ring is again a popular, fun, and innovative gift.

What are mood rings made of?

What are mood rings made of
image: something borrowed

The setting for a mood ring can be made of any substance. Silver is a popular choice, and less expensive mood rings may be set in base metal. But when it comes to the mood stone itself, that’s made of a layer of a special kind of crystal.

The crystal in a mood ring must be thermochromic. That means it will react to changes in temperature by changing color. Different mood rings can be made of different kinds of crystal and will, therefore, vary in shade.

The crystals aren’t, as you might imagine, a single stone. They’re actually multiple liquid crystals and they’re held inside a container made of glass or quartz. That protects them from moisture or excessive heat, which would otherwise damage them. It also means mood rings can be almost any shape or size.

If you’re looking for a quirky wedding band, a mood ring could be an excellent choice. Classic plain wedding rings can be lifted by a central color-changing band. And they make a great talking point!

Why do mood rings change color?

Why do mood rings change color
image: something borrowed

We’ve already seen that the crystals that form mood rings change color in different temperatures. But exactly how does that happen?

Well, as the temperature changes, the crystals themselves actually twist. That means that the light passes through them in different ways, refracting and absorbing varying parts of the color spectrum. That in turn means that your eyes see different colors.

The crystals in mood rings are calibrated to respond to fairly minor changes in the temperature of your skin.

“Reading” a mood ring is usually a simple matter of consulting the chart provided alongside it. Because mood rings can be made of different crystals, there’s no single guide that will work for all of them.

Having said that, it’s usually the case that the crystals will appear black when they’re cold. That will change to blue or magenta when they’re warmer. In between, they’ll turn brown and then green.

What’s the theory behind mood rings?

What’s the theory behind mood rings
image: something borrowed

We’ve already seen that mood rings change color because of the liquid crystals they contain. These change their hue in different temperatures. But what does that have to do with your mood?

Well, because the ring is worn on your finger, its shade will be determined by your finger’s temperature. The idea is that, if you’re feeling passionate, your heart will beat faster. That will make the blood flow more quickly around your body, making your fingers warm.

If, on the other hand, you’re anxious, your blood flow will prioritize your internal organs. They are, after all, the things that will keep you alive in a dangerous situation. As a result, your extremities will cool. If you’ve ever felt your hands grow cold when you’re nervous or afraid, you’ll know how true this is!

The mood ring takes this simple concept and builds on it. The ring manufacturers attribute different moods to the different body – or more specifically, finger – temperatures. This useful YouTube video summarizes how it all works.

If you’re at a wedding where the bride and groom are wearing mood rings, check out the colors! Remember, the warmer their fingers, the more passionate their feelings supposedly are. If they’re feeling loved up, the rings will hopefully appear blue or magenta!

Do mood rings really work?

Do mood rings really work
image: something borrowed

Mood rings are fun and quirky, but they’re not to be taken too seriously! There’s only one thing you can be certain the color of the stone is telling you. That’s simply how warm or cold your finger is.

It’s true your fingers will probably get a bit warmer when the blood is pumping hard. But is that because you’re full of passion on your wedding day – or just because you’ve run up some stairs? Your ring won’t be able to tell.

If you’re holding something warm – a hot beverage, for example, your ring will change color. And if your hand gets cooler – if you place it in cold water, say – the same thing applies. Even hormones and the length of time since you’ve eaten can make a difference.

So if you invest in a mood ring yourself, don’t get too hung up on its shade. And if you’re at a wedding, don’t worry about the future of the happy couple if their rings appear dark!

Of course, the best way to tell how someone else is feeling is simply to ask them. Just make sure you listen carefully to the answer!

And if you want to get in touch with your own emotions, meditation and mindfulness are useful practices. Remember that original idea of mood rings improving awareness of emotions and acting as an aide to meditation? The truth is, you don’t need a mood ring in order to benefit from quiet reflection.

This YouTube video is a great introduction to using mindful meditation to explore your feelings.

Care of your mood ring

Care of your mood ring
image: something borrowed

The major culprit behind mood rings that no longer change color is moisture. If water seeps into the stone, it can disrupt the crystals. The result can be a ring that turns black, or simply won’t change color at all. Taking your ring off before washing your hands is a good idea.

The same problem can occur if the crystals are exposed to very high temperatures. For that reason, avoid resizing mood rings. And try not to leave them next to a heater or window, or on a car dashboard.

Even with care, you may find that your mood ring becomes less responsive over time. A lifespan of between two and five years is pretty standard. You won’t find many of the vintage 1970s mood rings that still work as they should.

We have, however, found one tip for bringing a stuck mood ring back to its color-changing glory. Try wrapping it in a paper towel and putting it into the freezer for two minutes. We’re not sure of the science behind this, but some people have apparently done it successfully. It’s certainly worth a try!

If you need to clean your ring, avoid water and chemicals, both of which can damage the crystals. A soft dry cloth is the best bet.

If your mood ring is set in silver, you can slow down the tarnishing process by keeping it somewhere cool and dry. Try storing it with a stick of chalk too, a traditional remedy against tarnishing.

And if you have a silica pack – often found inside new shoes or handbags – store it with your ring. It will absorb moisture from the surrounding air and help keep the stone in good condition.

Key things to remember

Mood rings are great fun and often very attractive. But there’s only a superficial basis for linking the color of the stone to your mood. Remember, your ring is really just taking the temperature of your finger!

That doesn’t mean, though, that they can’t be a special gift. Giving someone a mood ring could be a great way of telling them you care about how they’re feeling. And if you like jewelry that provides a real talking point, they fit the bill perfectly.

If you’re looking for a wedding band that’s unusual and quirky, a mood ring could be a great choice. Just be realistic about how long the color-changing properties will last. Your ring can still look good, but it may be stuck on one shade after a few years.

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