One of the most popular jewelry fads of the 1970s, mood rings were worn by women of all ages, especially teenagers, and some men as well.
For many, it was a must-have item that determined whether they were angry, sad, joyous, calm, or just about any other emotion you can name.
The ring, which changed color supposedly according to the “mood” of the wearer, was invented by a pair of scientists from New York, Josh Reynolds and Maris Ambats, who bonded liquid crystal with quartz stones to devise a product that would vary in color according to the body temperature of the person wearing the ring.
The first mood rings were actually fairly high priced, given the economy of the 1970s. The faux stones were placed in a silver-toned setting and sold for about $45. Others were set in gold and sold for about five times more.
The first store to market the rings was Bonwit Teller, an upscale New York City, Fifth Avenue department store that catered to those with discriminating taste. However, they were later mass produced in inexpensive settings and it wasn’t unusual to find them in stores selling for $5 to $10 or less, especially shops that catered to teens and young adults.
The theory behind the ring is simple. Because the stone would get darker when it encountered a higher temperature, it was assumed that the ring’s stone would turn black or dark purple when worn by an angry or upset person.
When a person was just going about their daily tasks, the body temperature was assumed to be average and the stone would be a neutral color. If the wearer was happy and calm (with a lower body temperature), the color would change yet again, usually to a light blue or greenish color.
Eventually, most wearers realized that it wasn’t really the body temperature that was helping the stone to change color. It was more likely the exterior temperature and the hotness or coldness of the faux gem itself when exposed to outside elements.
Scientists stress that body temperature actually varies little, hence the color of the ring would fluctuate very little as well.
Nonetheless, the concept of a ring that was able to predict your mood was fun and millions of the rings sold before the 70s fad died less than two years later.