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What are Mood Rings?

Jessica Hobby
Jessica Hobby

Accidentally discovered by jeweler Marvin Wernick in the late 1960’s, mood rings, which are encased in a stone made of quartz or clear glass, contain a flat strip thermotropic liquid crystals that are believed to change color dependent on the mood or the emotional state of the subject wearing the ring. Wernick discovered the process when he went on an emergency call with a friend of his who happened to be a doctor. The doctor used a strip of thermotropic material on a young boy’s forehead to check his temperature and gave Wernick the idea for the mood ring.

Even though technical discovery of the mood ring was by Marvin Wernick, credit is most often given to Joshua Reynolds for what became one of the biggest fads of the 1970’s. Reynolds was the first to popularize the rings in 1975 and even though they were a fad in the 70’s, they continually resurface for periods of time throughout the years.

A mood ring will turn black if a person is depressed or down.
A mood ring will turn black if a person is depressed or down.

Some people believed the liquid crystals could measure mood through temperature, however this is not possible. There is no proven scientific evidence that mood rings actually display the mood of the ring wearer. The scientific explanation of how mood rings work begins with the thermotropic liquid crystal inside of the ring.

The liquid crystal inside a mood ring is heat sensitive and works like a thermometer. The liquid crystals are calibrated to normal surface body temperature (82°F or 28°C) and show body temperatures that are above the normal surface temperature. A person wears a mood ring and their surface temperature is transported to the liquid crystals through their finger.

Someone who is anxious or nervous will have a brown or gray mood ring.
Someone who is anxious or nervous will have a brown or gray mood ring.

When a person’s body temperature increases the temperature of the liquid crystal increases, and takes on a different molecular structure at every temperature. Each molecular structure reflects or absorbs different wavelengths which are responsible for the color change in mood rings. The color of the ring actually changes because of body temperature, not because of mood.

The crystals inside a mood ring have a similar function to a thermometer.
The crystals inside a mood ring have a similar function to a thermometer.

When the liquid crystal was calibrated with body temperature, it was also calibrated for color. Average body temperature displays a blue/green or teal color on the mood ring. The following is a list of all the colors and there corresponding moods, starting with the coldest temperature:

Black: depressed or down, really cold outside or a damaged ring
Brown/Gray: anxious or nervous
Yellow/Amber: tense and excited
Blue Green/Teal: average day and average body temperature
Blue: calm and relaxed
Violet/Purple: happy or passionate

Discussion Comments


@snickerish - I don't think doctors use those strips anymore - I have not seen them around. But I am not a doctor so I could be wrong!

I have heard that song as well. The song mood rings lyrics even incorporate the colors of the mood ring. "If it turns blue, I should leave her alone" is one of the lyrics and I must say he got it wrong - because technically blue stands for average day - so no, he should not leave her alone.

Anyway - I think mood rings are always in style at this point they are classic and vintage.


I was recently listening to a song that made me think of mood rings - it was written by a guy named Paul Thorn from Mississippi, and boy did it take me back (to elementary school).

I loved my mood ring in elementary school! I think that is because I was in elementary school and a little boy crazy so I think I was looking to it for advice to see if a certain person would make me happy or excited.

In reminding me about mood rings it made me want to finally figure out how it worked, I figured it had to do with body temperature (just like the Hypercolor clothing that changed color secondary to body temperature that was popular when I was in elementary school as well).

Now I know all about it - but I was curious, do doctors still use strips of thermotropic material to find out temperatures of patients?


Mood rings were just the beginning of this fashion trend. Even today you can buy mood rings necklaces, pendants and bracelets.

I always thought it would be interesting to wear a mood ring and necklace at the same time and see if the colors would match.

Some of the mood jewelry that is sold today is much nicer looking than the cheap mood ring I had as a teenager. Even so, my friends and I had a lot of fun with these rings and always enjoyed wearing them.


I know I am dating myself when I say that I remember quite well when mood rings were popular. I was in junior high when I got my first mood ring and they were quite the fashion statement at the time.

It seems like my ring never changed much when I wore it, but always seemed to be a blue green color. No matter what I did or how hard I tried I could never get it to be a purple color, which is what I wanted it to be most of the time.

Once in awhile it was a yellow orange color, but I don't ever remember it being black either. It seems crazy that a ring could reflect my mood, but it was sure fun to see if it would work.


The frustrating thing about wearing a mood ring is that I never know what to wear to match it! Normally, I coordinate my jewelry colors with my clothing, but with this ring, it is impossible.

I started out wearing a blue-green sweater one day to match the shade of the ring at that time. By noon, it had turned amber, and it clashed. At the end of the day, it turned purple, and this clashed even worse.

So, I have decided only to wear my mood ring on days that I wear neutral colors. It will be hard for the ring to clash with a white blouse and jeans.


I never knew about the thermotropic strip. I always thought the stone itself changed colors. Of course, I also thought that the ring could portray my mood, but that was a long time ago.

I always knew there had to be some trick to it. It would frustrate me. I would be feeling a certain emotion very strongly, but the ring often showed the color for the opposite emotion. It messed with my mind.

One day, I got into an argument with someone about a topic for which I had a lot of passion. I looked down at the ring, expecting it to be extremely purple. Instead, it was gray. I became so angry at the ring that I threw it into the drain in the street.


My boyfriend has a cheap mood ring that he bought from a store that sells merchandise for the superstitious. He likes to check it several times a day, because he finds the color changes amusing.

He works outdoors all the time, and in the winter, we have some pretty chilly temperatures. During the cold season, his ring stays black while he’s at work.

When he puts it back on after a warm shower, it changes to a prettier shade. Depending on the day, it will turn either blue, purple, or amber.

Wearing this ring has become as natural to him as wearing a wedding ring would be to a married man. He feels naked without it.


I had a mood ring in junior high, but I became disgusted with it. I was always nervous in school, and the ring stayed in the brown-gray range. It was so ugly!

I envied my friends whose rings were beautiful shades of teal and purple. I wished that mine would change to a more attractive shade, but it never did.

I suppose that my body temperature was just stuck at a level that produced an ugly color. Maybe my nervousness caused me to get stuck in that temperature range. Whatever the reason, I quit wearing it. I went out and bought a lovely sapphire ring instead.


@strawCake - I remember having a mood ring when I was younger too. I think I actually got tired of wearing it before I learned that they don't actually show your mood.

I think it's kind of interesting how mood rings were invented though. Imagine coming up with a fun piece of jewelry from a doctors visit with a sick kid! I guess inspiration can come from anywhere.


I don't think mood rings ever go out of style with kids and pre-teens. I'm 26, and I remember mood rings were pretty popular when I was in elementary and middle school! I think everyone I know had at least one mood ring.

I remember being really disappointed when I learned that mood rings don't really show your mood! Learning the truth totally ruined mood rings for me when I was about 13.


@manykitties2 - I still have the mood rings chart from one of my old mood rings that I picked up when I was a teenager. We were also pretty convinced back then that the colors really revealed something. Mood rings were quite popular for about a year when I was in high school.

My favorite pieces of jewelry were my silver mood rings and my mood ring necklaces. I actually had quite the collection by the time mood rings fell back out of style. After seeing mood rings in a store recently, I have been thinking about whether or not to buy mood rings again.


One of the first pieces of jewelry I ever received was a mood ring. My mother gave me one on my sixth birthday because I wanted something that would look pretty and would be different in some way.

Mood rings are certainly different from other kinds of jewelry. I remember how my friends and I used to genuinely believe you could tell a person's mood by looking at the ring they were wearing. We had no idea when we were kids that it was just our body temperature triggering the changes in the mood rings. I guess it is just fun to believe you know what someone is feeling even though they hadn't said anything.

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    • A mood ring will turn black if a person is depressed or down.
      By: Aurelio
      A mood ring will turn black if a person is depressed or down.
    • Someone who is anxious or nervous will have a brown or gray mood ring.
      By: blanche
      Someone who is anxious or nervous will have a brown or gray mood ring.
    • The crystals inside a mood ring have a similar function to a thermometer.
      By: Monika Wisniewska
      The crystals inside a mood ring have a similar function to a thermometer.