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America gets in the mood: Mood rings seen everywhere as colorful new-age trend of the ’70s captures the minds of millions

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Vintage mood rings - what do the colors mean

Are you in the mood? One of the new novelty emotion stones will tell all (1975)

The diamond hasn’t suffered yet, but the latest craze in fashion for fingers is not a precious stone. It’s merely a glass bauble filled with a sensitive chemical.

They’re called mood rings, and they’re showing up on fingers in classrooms and offices all over town.

America gets in the mood: Mood rings seen everywhere as colorful new-age trend of the '70s captures the minds of millions

The mood rings flood the market

The mood ring flooded the market just over a month ago, and it promises to be the biggest fad for gift-giving this Christmas. According to advertising, the ring changes from black to bright blue depending on the mood of the wearer.

Those sporting mood rings — also called sensitivity, passion, impulse and emotion stones — can check with a chart and determine whether they are tense, nervous or happy by glancing at their ring.

One of the many manufacturers of mood rings is Jack Levin and Associates in Los Angeles. An expert on the ring employed by Jack Levin, and aptly named Ron Rock, explained that a chemical in the stone reacts to the wearer’s body heat and changes colors as the temperature of the body changes.

Vintage mood rings from the 1970s - Click Americana (2)

What do the mood ring colors mean?

Most of the rings have a brochure that explains what each color means. Seven colors seem to be the usual number.

An onyx-like black color denotes an uptight or tense person. The skin is its coldest because the mind is overburdened by stress and strain.

A brown or reddish-brown stone discloses a worried or preoccupied wearer. He. is easily upset and his erratic emotions are in conflict with reason. This color warns the wearer to exercise restraint.

A person easily distracted might see his mood stone looks like topaz, yellow or gold. This person might be going through a temporary emotional change and should exert extra caution; his mind has difficulty focusing.

Green shows a normal amount of emotional control and an even temper.

Blue-green or turquoise denotes relaxation. The wearer is confident and in control, “but ready for good things to come.”

Near bliss or inner peace will prompt the stone to turn bright blue.

And when the ring’s wearer notices a violet color, he probably feels like “everything is beautiful. Emotions are charged with passion, love and self-satisfaction.”

Purchasers of the “mystical wonder” probably will find its novelty wearing off with its “metamorphic qualities.” In fine print, pamphlets say the rings will change colors for about a year. Extreme temperatures or immersion in water could shorten their lives further.

Vintage mood rings from the 1970s - Click Americana

Do mood rings actually work?

Joshua Reynolds, heir to the R. J. Reynolds tobacco fortune, its inventor and merchandizer, felt the ring had serious overtones and was of importance, not just a kicky gimmick. People who came to his Stress Transformation Clinic on Park Avenue in New York City spent $30 to $40 per hour for biofeedback training, 10-12 sessions.

Reynolds said in a recent interview: “We wondered if it were possible to develop a portable means of biofeedback to tell a person if he was relaxed or not, and to indicate the onset of tension before he is aware of it.” This, he hoped, could lead an individual to better control of his emotions.

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It also led to Reynolds’ discovery of the mood stone ring, in essence, a chemically-treated quartz crystal (with liquid crystal). Now his ring of “crash” colors, like crash diets before it, has become an “in” thing.

WANT A MOOD RING? New versions as well as vintage editions are available online!

One saleswoman at a major department store in Cincinnati giggled when she related her observations of buyers as they decided on whether or not to buy the ring. “You know, the men found the ring turned color faster on them than the women. Our store manager told us that it was because men had less fat than women, and the chemical in the ring reacted faster on them because of this.”

“What you are saying, then, girlie,” one overstuffed woman customer said to this saleswoman, on overhearing the conversation on the “fat” theory, “is that I should go on a diet? Humpf!” She smacked the ring down on the counter and left in a huff.

Vintage mood rings from the 1970s - Click Americana (1)

How accurate are mood rings?

Mothers have found the ring useful, however. One tells her preschool children to “Watch Mommie’s ring for the pretty colors. When it’s black, get lost.”

One teacher reported the mood ring helped her in her scheduling. She’s spotted at least a half dozen students wearing them and when she’s ready to spring a surprise quiz, she only does it when the majority of rings are in the blue range. “If too many are black that day, I’m afraid to give the quiz; it might bring on a bloody rebellion.”

While the ring can’t be immersed in water, it could be useful to a female lifeguard when she suspects a male swimmer is giving false cries for help. Swimming out to him while he frantically waves one arm up in the air (to protect his mood ring?) she could spot the color of the ring, check it for truthfulness. If it’s black, he’s drowning. But if it’s “The Ultimate,” violet, she can black his eye instead.

Whatever the ring does or doesn’t do for the public, at whatever price it is sold, there’s one group of consumers who feel it is here to stay — husbands. No longer do they have to put up with, “Not tonight dear, I’ve got a headache” and wonder if it’s the truth.

“I bought my wife a mood ring. When she pleads a headache, and the ring is black, I sympathize — and pass. But when the ring shows true violet, it’s time to race for the boudoir.”

Vintage mood rings from the 1970s - Click Americana (7)

How mood rings work, and how the colors compare to biofeedback

The ring capitalizes on the fact that the state of your mind determines how much heat your body generates, much like biofeedback, according to manufacturer Ron Rock.

David Danskin of the KSU biofeedback center agrees that the mood ring is similar in principle to biofeedback.

“The mood ring does respond to skin temperature, but not as sensitively as other instruments used in biofeedback,” he explained. “It does not accurately detect the minute changes in temperature.

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“The ring responds not only to the wearer’s skin temperature, but also to the environment around it.

“If I were to wear the ring in a cold room, the temperature of that room would affect the ring, but I’m not sure to what extent.”

The biofeedback instrument that the mood ring is compared to is used to measure the temperature of the skin. When a person is relaxed, his hands are warmer.

“In biofeedback, we learn to increase the blood flowing to the hand, and in this way learn to relax,” Danskin said.

“The most important thing to keep in mind when considering mood rings is that skin temperature is not like body temperature. Different people’s skin temperature can vary by several degrees.

“For this reason, you can’t measure your state of mind with the mood ring from an arbitrary chart,” he emphasized. “But if you’ll compare your own reactions, the ring can have meaning.”

Space Fidgit – the cosmic color-changing disc toy from the ’70s and ’80s

Vintage mood rings from the 1970s - Click Americana (3)

New age trend: How much do the mood rings cost?

The ring is marketed at many price levels. The price charged is determined by the mounting of the stone. According to the Levin spokesman, the wholesale cost on costume rings is $24 to $30 a dozen. The more expensive ring is adjustable. Levin and Associates suggests $4.99 for retail marketing.

Many Manhattan stores market the ring. A check with some local department stores seemed to reflect some of the distribution problems encountered nationally.

Alco sells the ring for $3.97. They exhausted their initial supply, and had to wait a few weeks to receive the second shipment, which came in Tuesday.

A spokesperson for Walmart said the rings have been ordered for over a month but for some reason still haven’t been delivered. Walmart hopes to be selling the product in a few days.

Tempo’s jewelry clerk said she does not carry and hasn’t ordered the mood ring.

K-Mart offers the ring at the lowest price we found in the nation: $1.96 per ring. The head of their jewelry department explained that were able to sell these rings cheaply since the mounting was very inexpensive.

He assured us that the stone was identical to the more expensive rings and reacted in the same manner.

K-Mart’s first six dozen rings sold out in three days.

On the other side of the coin, the highest price tag we found on a mood ring was $75. This ring was carried by an exclusive jewelry store in Beverly Hills and was set in sterling silver.

So if there’s a neurotic on your Christmas list, whether he or she happens to be a rich aunt with expensive taste or your cheapskate roommate, maybe a mood ring would be the answer.


Vintage mood ring color code chart – What do mood ring colors mean?

Vintage mood rings color code chart - What do mood ring colors mean - from 1975


More vintage mood rings – of varying shapes and colors

Vintage mood rings from the 1970s - Click Americana (8)

Vintage mood rings from the 1970s - Click Americana (6)

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