The History of Dinner Rings

February 26, 2019 2 min read

history of dinner rings

You’ve heard of cocktail rings, but what about dinner rings?  This vintage style is less ostentatious, but no less beautiful than its over-the-top counterpart.  Read on to learn more about the history of dinner rings and why they are essential to any jewelry collection.

The Origins of the Dinner Ring

The precursor to the dinner ring was the cocktail ring.  Large gemstones perched atop a ring were flashy and eye-catching – exactly the look a 1920’s flapper desired.  When Prohibition was enacted in 1920 preventing the sale and consumption of alcohol, Americans sought other, more illicit means to get their fix.  A roaring trade in moonshine and “homemade” liquor filled the need, yet left a lot to be desired in the taste department.  Thus, the cocktail was born as a way to make these harsh liquors more palatable.  Speakeasy night clubs and cocktail parties were an opportunity for the fashion setting flappers to show off their style, and flaunt their liberation.  Cocktail in hand, rings were the perfect accessory for this new lifestyle.  

antique diamond dinner ring

After the repeal of Prohibition in 1933, the cocktail party became less risqué and more mainstream.  With a bit more class, the cocktail party turned into the dinner party.  This change in tone was reflected in fashion as well, and the dinner ring was born.  The dinner rings of this era are lower in profile, but no less glamorous.  Although the term “dinner ring” can refer to any number of styles of right hand rings (non-engagement rings), the “north to south” style is most notably associated with the term.  This design stretches along the length of the finger, rather than around the circumference.  In the case of the late Art Deco and early Retro Era dinner rings, die-stamped filigree formed an intricate base for glittering diamonds, creating a beautiful light-catching effect.  The low profile design of dinner rings makes them extremely wearable, while still looking glamorous and special.  

Retro Era diamond dinner ring

The Symbolism of Dinner Rings

The term “dinner ring” is also attributed to the colored gemstone rings that were popular at the time.  Richly hued emeralds, garnets, citrines, and aquamarines took center stage, often surrounded by a halo of sparkling diamonds.  Dinner rings were, in essence, a symbol of a woman’s freedom and power.  These were pieces not given to them by a husband or boyfriend; they were purchased by the wearer herself.  Ever since their rejection of the corset, woman were finding freedom in fashion and loving it.

Art Deco diamond dinner ring

Wearing vintage and antique jewelry is like wearing a little slice of history.  When you put on an Art Deco dinner ring, you are giving a little tribute to the independent life-loving women of the era.   Click the photos to learn more about the pieces you see here, and click here to shop Market Square Jewelers’ dinner ring collection.

Also in MSJ Handbook

vintage engagement ring guide
The Big Guide To Vintage Engagement Rings

June 12, 2019 10 min read

Your ultimate manual for everything you should know about vintage engagement rings.
Read More
cultured pearl necklace
Which Pearl Is Which: A Helpful Guide

June 05, 2019 5 min read

Here are some of the common pearl-related terms you'll come across.
Read More
market square jewelers custom engraving signet ring
Golden Signatures: The History of Signet Rings

May 22, 2019 3 min read

Learn the history of signet rings and how their purpose changed over the centuries.
Read More


Sign Up & Save