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Fashion Advice: Are Cocktail Rings In?

Q: Dear Budget Fashionista, Are cocktail rings with semi-precious stones like amethyst, aquamarine, ruby, pink sapphire are still “in”? Can they be worn everyday or only on special occasions?

A: It used to be the only people who wore cocktail rings were women named “Marg,” who lived in Miami with their husbands “Merv,” and their pet Chihuahua “Baby.” Marg also had plastic on her furniture, and a 1989 pink Cadillac Seville in the driveway she got from selling Mary Kay (note: check out the new Mary Kay career cars, I might have to switch careers)

Although we made fun of Marg, she was, in fact, ahead of her time.

Cocktails rings, i.e. rings with a very big (three carat or above) colored stone, are a great way to add a little spice to your accessory wardrobe, and is significantly cheaper than a diamond ring. Recently, the rings have started to gain popularity as concern regarding conflict diamonds has led many fashionistas to opt for engagement rings with presumably conflict-free semi-precious stones.

It’s also a great option for those of us with larger hands, whose loved ones can’t afford to purchase a diamond that is in scale with our hands.

There are two types of cocktail rings: one type has made from semi-precious stones like Ruby, Citrine, Aquamarine, and Amethyst that tend to run around $500-$1000 or more, and those made of less expensive stones (and many times plastic) like Cubic Zirconium, Crystal, and Blue Topaz.

If the ring has only one focal stone and that stone is less than eight to ten carats in size, then you can wear it everyday. However, be advised that the cheaper versions tend to be gaudier (ten-plus carats) than the more expensive versions and for that reason, unless you’re going for a “look,” you should only wear those cocktail rings for special occasions.

When looking for a cocktail ring:

1. Look for rings with one focal stone. The ring should have only one large focal stone. If the ring has other stones, then they should complement, not distract from, the focal stone.

2. Skip the cubic zirconium. Unless your goal is to “fake it until you make it,” then skip the C.Z. They tend to make the cocktail ring look gaudy (and thus cheaper).

3. Choose darker colored stones. It will work better with your fall wardrobe. Also, for some reason, the lighter semi-precious stones tend to be copied the most. I’m not sure why, other than perhaps the manufacturer use less dye or something.

Note: Target now has a wonderful selection of cocktail rings for $7.99.

Note: If you have smaller hands—make sure the stone doesn’t extend past the bottom of your knuckles.

Photo: Smoky Quartz Cocktail Ring, $49.00 at

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