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Can mood rings really work?

Can mood rings really work?

Mood rings have been around since the 1970s and remain popular today. They are designed to change colors in response to changes in your body temperature, which is said to correlate with your mood. But can mood rings actually detect your mood? Here we’ll examine if and how mood rings work.

What are mood rings and how do they work?

A mood ring has a thermochromic element in the center stone or band that changes color based on temperature. Thermochromic refers to a material that changes color in response to heat. The most common thermochromic material in mood rings is liquid crystal, which changes structure and reflects light differently based on temperature.

The ring is designed to respond to the temperature of your skin, which can vary slightly based on blood flow. When you’re relaxed and calm, your blood vessels dilate, allowing increased blood flow to the extremities and thereby increasing skin temperature. Conversely, constricted blood vessels from stress or anxiety decrease blood flow and lower skin temperature. A mood ring attempts to reflect these temperature changes through color.

What do the mood ring colors mean?

While interpretations can vary by brand, the most common mood ring color meanings are:

  • Black or blue = relaxed, calm
  • Green = normal, neutral
  • Yellow = anxious, stressed
  • Brown or gray = tense, nervous
  • Amber or orange = excited, passionate

The ring is calibrated to start at green for an average skin temperature of 82°F (28°C). Cooler temperatures shift toward blue/black tones, while warmer temperatures progress to yellow/orange hues.

Can mood rings accurately detect emotions?

There are a few factors that complicate the accuracy of mood rings:

  • Skin temperature is not solely determined by mood – other influences include air temperature, exercise, medications, menstrual cycle, and health conditions.
  • Mood is complex, involving many biological and environmental factors beyond just blood flow.
  • The correlation between blood flow and mood is not always consistent – people react differently.
  • The color change may not be noticeable or sensitive enough to reflect subtle mood shifts.
  • Interpretation of color meaning can be subjective.

So while mood rings rely on an observable physiological phenomenon, they cannot directly or reliably detect emotions. At best they provide an interesting rough indicator of mood trends.

Do mood ring colors have any scientific merit?

Some studies have explored the validity of using skin temperature for mood detection:

  • A 2007 study found no correlation between finger temperature and participants’ mood states.
  • A small 2008 study saw limited correlation between skin temperature drops and feeling sadness when watching sad films.
  • A 2011 analysis found some ability to classify relaxed vs. stressed states using wrist temperature and heart rate.

While more research is needed, these early studies provide minimal scientific evidence for skin temperature as an accurate indicator of mood. The consensus among psychologists is that mood rings are more of a novelty than a reliable tool.

What are the limitations of mood rings?

There are several drawbacks to relying on a mood ring:

  • Skin temperature is affected by many factors unrelated to mood.
  • The color change can be small and difficult to perceive.
  • It provides limited information about complex emotions.
  • It cannot indicate the reason behind a mood.
  • The color interpretation is subjective and not universally defined.
  • It does not work for everyone or all moods.

Overall, mood rings have restricted capability in actually assessing your disposition. At best, they provide a playful way to invite a conversation about emotions.

When were mood rings popular?

Mood rings emerged around 1975 and surged in popularity through the 1970s, becoming one of the decade’s iconic fads. Their appeal aligned with New Age spirituality practices and a fascination with color psychology. While interest eventually waned in the 1980s, mood rings continue to have novelty value today.

Why were mood rings so popular in the 1970s?

A few key factors contributed to mood rings’ 1970s craze:

  • The rings tapped into New Age interest in emotions, meditation, mysticism and healing crystals.
  • They provided a way to display and recognize shifting emotions amid psychological explorations of the 1970s.
  • Mood ring creators heavily marketed the rings’ purported emotional detection abilities.
  • Their colorful, lava lamp-esque aesthetic fit the psychedelic style of the era.
  • They offered an inexpensive way for young people to participate in a trend.

While now recognized more as a fad, mood rings were hugely popular in their time as both a novelty item and a reflection of 1970s culture.

Who invented the mood ring?

Mood rings were invented in 1975 by jewelry designers Josh Reynolds and Maris Ambats. They worked with the same technology engineers who created liquid crystal displays to make the first prototypes. Reynolds then partnered with businessman Gary Dweck to mass produce and market the rings.

Popular legend credits Reynolds’ inspiration to noticing his girlfriend’s mood-related skin temperature changes. But Reynolds later clarified he simply saw a liquid crystal thermal gadget and conceived the ring idea with Ambats.

How do you wear and use a mood ring?

To work effectively, mood rings need to maintain direct contact with your skin. Most mood rings are designed to be worn on the finger. Here are some tips for use:

  • Wear the ring on a finger with minimal calluses for better skin contact.
  • Give your finger time to adjust to the ring’s temperature when first putting it on.
  • Try to keep the ring exposed rather than covered by gloves, sleeves, etc.
  • Remove the ring before washing hands or activities that rapidly alter skin temperature.
  • Take the ring off periodically to allow your skin to breathe.
  • Consider your environment’s temperature when interpreting colors.

With normal use, mood rings can provide a rough gauge of your emotional state based on the calibrated color responses. But allow for environmental factors that may produce inaccurate color changes.

Are mood rings bad for your health?

When worn appropriately, mood rings pose minimal health risks. A few considerations include:

  • Allergies – Rings may contain nickel or other metals that provoke reactions in some people.
  • Choking hazards – Any jewelry poses risks for young children if swallowed.
  • Cuts – Rings can damage or tear skin if caught on objects.
  • Chemical exposures – Low quality rings may leach heavy metals or toxins onto skin.

Avoid prolonged wear, especially sleeping with a mood ring on. Periodically clean the ring and your skin to reduce risks. Overall, mood rings are reasonably safe jewelry when worn carefully.

Do mood rings work on pets?

Mood rings are calibrated for human skin temperature and may not function as intended on pets. However, you can try placing a mood ring on areas of thin hair or skin, like a cat or dog’s ears or belly. Look for color shifts that may roughly correlate with behavior changes. But given differences in pet physiology, mood rings are unlikely to reliably indicate a pet’s mood.

Can you make your own mood ring?

With some craft supplies and materials, you can make your own DIY mood ring at home. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Ring base – plastic adjustable ring, metal band, ring blank, etc.
  • Thermochromic liquid crystals – sold as temperature-sensitive pigment powder
  • Resin epoxy – to fill ring with crystals, 2 parts mixed together
  • Plastic mixing sticks and cups
  • Protective gloves and mask

Key steps include:

  1. Prepare ring base, sanding if needed to enhance adherence
  2. Mix liquid crystal powder into one part of epoxy resin
  3. Mixactivate the epoxy with the second part
  4. Fill ring base with epoxy mixture
  5. Allow to fully cure for 24-48 hours
  6. Calibrate colors by testing ring at different temperatures

With some trial and error, you can create custom mood rings this way. Just be cautious handling chemicals and allow adequate curing time.

What are the best mood ring brands?

Some reputable mood ring brands to consider include:

  • Jeulia – Wide selection of styles, ships worldwide
  • Borean – Handcrafted in silicone and stainless steel
  • Level – Minimalist rings with 14k gold plating
  • CrystalMood – Rings with healing crystals like lava rock
  • MOOD Collection – Vintage 1970s style rings

Quality can vary, so read product details and reviews. Top brands optimize color change visibility and offers durable plating. Buy from reputable sellers for best results.


While mood rings have limitations, their color-changing ability remains amusing. They cannot definitively determine emotions, but may reflect general physiological shifts related to stress levels. Mood rings invite playfulness and conversations about feelings – now as in the 1970s. With realistic expectations, mood rings can be an entertaining novelty and statement jewelry piece.