By Danielle Olivia Tefft, Jewelry Writer
As the years fly by, I grow more and more nostalgic. Anything that reminds me of growing up in the 1970s puts a smile on my face. The seventies were full of tacky clothes like bell bottom pants and platform shoes. We had tacky toys like banana seat bikes with plastic baskets decorated with plastic daisies. I had all of these things and remember them fondly.
The seventies were also all about tacky novelty items like pet rocks, Mexican jumping beans and mood rings. Yes, I had these, too. But my favorite novelty item was my mood ring. Or should I say mood rings. We used to get them at Woolworth’s (a fabulous discount department store) or at the corner store with our penny candy. Sometimes you could win them at fairs and carnivals and amusement parks.
The science behind mood rings (body temperature sensitive liquid crystals) had been around for some time prior to the era. But the mood ring application did not take off until the mid-seventies when a young entrepreneur convinced Bonwit Teller, a Fifth Avenue flagship department store in New York City at the time, to carry them. He thus started the craze by marketing them as “truth rings”.
Within a month, celebrities like Barbara Streisand and Paul Newman were touting them. T.V. talk show host Mike Douglas did a special show on them. Muhammad Ali even wrote a poem about mood rings! You can guess the rest: mood rings became an American cultural sensation that everyone had to have. They sold so many that that young entrepreneur made a fortune within three months’ time.
Can you believe those first Bonwit Teller mood rings were sold for $45 for silver settings and $250 for gold? I hate to say it, but thank goodness for knock-offs! Otherwise my childhood would have been severely lacking!
Mood rings were huge in the seventies. I lost track of how many mood rings I owned over those childhood years. They’d get lost or broken on an almost daily basis. I remember them being ultra-cool to own until I became a teenager.
Imagine my delight in finding an original mood ring from the seventies in a pile of old costume jewelry my friend Julie, owner of Julie’s Place Antiques & Collectibles, asked me to go through for her a few weeks ago. I held it up for all to see and declared it for all the world to see. “I think this is a mood ring!” I said excitedly. I shoved it on my index finger (no need to worry about breaking it, as the band is metal and adjustable.)
Unfortunately, Julie wasn’t so awed and amazed. But she did let me keep my prize. I felt like a kid again! So it sits in a little tray right next to my laptop on my desk. And every time I look at it, I just have to try it on. It usually turns either purple or green on me. Sometimes it turns blue.
I don’t really care what the colors mean. There are lots of different interpretations out there. For me, just the fact that it’s turning colors on my finger verifies that it is indeed a real mood ring. That’s all I need to know!
I wear it happily-right next to my big girl rings! I’ll let you picture the big smile that goes with it! It is a typical mood ring form the seventies with a big center cabochon stone.
You can’t really tell from looking at a mood ring that it contains liquid crystals. The old ones look quite dull; a sort of dull greyish purple-even black in color until you put them on. Some vintage mood rings stop changing color all together. But hopefully, if you come across one in an old jewelry box or other collections of old costume jewelry, it will change colors for you!
You can purchase mood rings again today. In fact, there are whole websites out there dedicated to them. Also you can find mood necklaces and mood bands now. They probably had these in the late seventies, too. But first came the mood ring like the one on my finger. :)
The 1970s by Kelly Boyer Sagert, Greenwood Publishing Group, 2007.
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The Found in the Jewelry Box Blog is my attempt to teach others about the wonderful world of gems and jewelry, past and present. Please enjoy!
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