Mood ring color meanings for the retro jewelry trend – and what blue, green, yellow & black meant

Vintage mood rings - what do the colors mean

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Mood rings were popular pieces of jewelry back in the mid-1970s — sort of new-age fad. So did the rings work? What do the colors on mood rings mean?

The idea behind mood rings is that color of the ring’s stone — which could be black, brown/gray, yellow/amber, green, teal, medium blue, dark blue or purple/pink — was said to make the wearer’s emotional state clear to anyone at a glance.

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How do mood rings work? These inexpensive trinkets usually have an oval or circular stone that looked shaped and rounded like a cabochon mounted into a metal setting.

But the stone wasn’t any naturally-occurring rock — it contained a man-made liquid crystal that had been sealed under a glass dome.

The color meaning of mood rings is based on the fact that the thermochromic liquid crystal responds to changes in temperature — in this case, how warm or cold someone’s finger is — by changing colors. Going up a couple of degrees will twist the crystal’s molecular structure, making it reflect different wavelengths of light, and altering its hue.

The glass (or plastic) of the ring magnifies the color change, so it’s really the combination of the temperature-sensitive element and the protective setting that creates the iconic look and color-changing effect of the mood ring.

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So where does the mood part come in? The idea is that body temperature fluctuates with different moods, so if you’re all fired up, that bauble on your finger is going to feel the heat, turning basic black into blue or green or another shade on the mood ring color list below.

While it’s a fun concept, mood rings aren’t really very accurate indicators of a person’s actual mood, since so many things can affect finger and body temperature — anything from exercise to simply washing your hands with warm water.

Here’s a general guide to mood ring color meanings:

Black: Tension or stress… or could just mean that the ring was cold or not being worn.
Brown/Gray: Anxiousness, nervousness, or restlessness.
Yellow/Amber: Somewhat tense or mixed emotions.
Green: Neutral or average. When the ring is at room temperature, it’s usually this color.
Blue-Green/Teal: Somewhat relaxed or calm.
Blue: Relaxed, at ease, or feeling lovable.
Dark Blue: Very happy or in love.
Purple/Pink: Passion, excitement, or romance.

Vintage green and blue mood rings from the 1970s
Authentic vintage green and blue mood rings from the 1970s

While mood rings are more a bit of fun than a scientific instrument, they were one of those things everyone wanted to try, and became an iconic piece of 70s fashion.

Over time, the novelty wore off, but mood rings can still be found today in various stores, as well as online at sites like Amazon.

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

From The Pantagraph (Bloomington, Illinois) December 7, 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.

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The mood rings & their colors 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, 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.

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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.

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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.

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Vintage mood ring with original product card and color meanings

Let your fingers do the talking: Mood rings at Gimbels (1975)

The fascinating Personality ring –  it reflects your mood, “reveals” your personality

Kiss me and turn blue. A terrific opening line for anyone bold enough to wear this beautiful changeling. It’s the fabulous mood ring … set with a special telltale stone that changes colors as your moods change.

And talk about shades of meaning: If the ring turns grey to block, you may be revealing your anxieties. If it comes up beige, you’re said to be mellowing. Green suggests a vivacious personality. And a deep turquoise blue is the ultimate — serene and turned on to your world. It’s a great way of becoming more in tune with yourself. Or with someone whose moods you’d like to fathom.

So why not drop by our Fashion Jewelry counter, today? We’ve a collection in gold and silver-tone finishes to suit men and women alike. Pick up one for yourself, one for a close friend. And let your fingers do the talking.

Vintage mood ring colors - Let your fingers do the talking (1975)

What do the colors mean on a mood ring? Vintage color meanings list (1975)



What does black mean on a mood ring?

BLACK — ONYX: Tense, inhibited, harrassed

What does brown or yellow mean on a mood ring?

REDDISH BROWN — AMBER: Strained, with anxieties

GOLDEN YELLOW — TOPAZ: Unsettled, scattered thoughts.

What does green mean on a mood ring?

LIGHT GREEN to BRIGHT GREEN — JADE to EMERALD: An average reading for being active with no stress.

BLUE GREEN — TURQUOISE: Emotionally charged, but relaxed

What does blue mean on a mood ring?

BRIGHT BLUE — LAPIS: Relaxed, loose, with emotions flowing

VIOLET BLUE — SAPPHIRE: The ultimate, totally involved emotionally, with a high degree of passion, happiness or satisfaction


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

How do mood rings 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. [Editor’s note: While Reynolds produced and popularized the rings, whether or not he’s the “inventor” is the subject of some debate. Some sources credit jeweler Marvin Wernick.]

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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.

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.

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.

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

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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.”

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Mood rings color meanings & how they work

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.

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“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. 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.”

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New age trend: How much do 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’s first six dozen rings sold out in three days.

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 they 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.

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.

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Comments on this story

2 Responses

  1. At the height of the mood ring craze, my mother really wanted one. So I got her one for Christmas (the basic versions weren’t terribly expensive). She was thrilled with it… but after a couple of months it stopped working and just turned black. She kept it anyway, and we found it when we were cleaning out her things after she passed away a couple of years ago.

  2. I’m interested in purchasing a mood ring or just the gem itself

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