Unraveling the Mystery of Mood Rings and How They Work

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Though the first mood ring got into the market in the 1970s, they’re still as popular today. People believe these lovely rings can tell your mood, changing colors as your mood changes. They’re still a fascinating ring type even if you don’t believe in their abilities. But how do mood rings work, and what components do they include?

What are mood rings made of?

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Mood rings are made using thermochromic or thermotropic liquid crystals. These crystals undergo phase changes with fluctuations in temperature. 

To make mood rings, these crystals are encased in a plastic or glass dome and placed on a silver, silver-plated, or gold-plated base.

Mood rings became mainstream in the 1970s, when two New Yorkers, Josh Reynolds and Maris Ambats, released the first mood rings into the market. Back then, the silver-plated versions sold for $45, and the gold-plated ones were $500. 

Luckily, the rings are much more popular, cost much less, and are made with various metals and in different sizes.

How do mood rings work?

The liquid crystals within the glass dome respond to changes in body temperature. As the temperature fluctuates, the crystals change position. 

Our eyes see this change of position as light reflects or gets absorbed by the crystals, and that’s how we perceive the various colors in the mood ring.

💡 Simply Put: Mood rings respond to the temperature changes in our fingers. Often, our body temperature reflects our mood. We get warmer when we’re excited or happy and get colder when stressed, anxious, or afraid. 

As the ring picks up these temperature differences, it changes color, and we can use those colors to tell our mood.

Do mood rings actually work?

As much as we’d like to have a ring pick up nuances in our feelings, mood rings don’t always do that. Some people get accurate results, but others don’t.

Here are some reasons why mood rings may produce an inaccurate result.

Ambient Temperature

Mood rings don’t only pick up the wearer’s temperature. They can also pick up the warmth or cold in the wearer’s surroundings. This means a person could be excited, but because they’re in a cold environment, the ring turns gray or black because of the cold. 

It could also work the opposite way. A person could be apprehensive or distressed, but the ring picks up the warmth and turns violet or green because they’re standing next to a stove or an engine.

Different Body Temperatures

We don’t all have the same body temperature. Some of us are naturally warmer, while others have lower body temperatures than average. This phenomenon could be health-related or just our natural biology.

The ring can’t tell the difference in everyone’s average body temperature, so it may misinterpret natural body temperatures for different emotions. 

Different Mood Ring Colors

Some companies use colors that don’t follow the usual pattern. This can unwittingly create misleading results. 

For example, some companies design their mood rings with blue-green as the rested color, while others use yellow. You’ll need to refer to the ring manufacturer’s chart to be sure.

What do the colors on the mood rings mean?

Even though some companies use different colors for their mood rings, many rings still use the same colors the original 1970s rings had. Each color represents a different emotional state.


For most mood rings, green stands for an unstressed state. Green is the default color and corresponds to an average, warm body temperature.


When you’re relaxed and calm, warmth flows to your hands, and your mood ring turns blue. In some rings, a deep blue hue can indicate a heightened calm state. If you encounter this color, you might want to note what you were doing to see how you can recreate that state.


The warmer you get, the more the color change gets close to violet or other shades of purple. This color change can indicate heightened passion, excitement, or high energy.


On your mood ring, red means high levels of excitement. This excitement can be evoked by passion and arousal or fiery anger and shock.

Amber or Yellow

Yellow is a color popularly associated with anxiety and apprehension, which remains true for mood rings. Yellow or amber shades can indicate anxiety, mixed emotions, or an unsettled feeling.


Your ring will turn brown when you’re nervous or worried about something.


Gray is a rare color on the mood ring. It represents an unsteady mental state when you’re stressed, uneasy, nervous, or strained.


Your mood ring will turn black when you’re in a state of heightened stress, anxiety, or tension. In this state, your body temperature is at its lowest. 

💡 Take Note: Mood rings also turn black if broken and no longer functional. Plus, water exposure can disrupt the crystals, turning the ring black and non-functioning.

Mood Ring Color Meanings: Chart

Here is a table showing the different mood ring colors and their meanings. Recall that not all mood rings follow these colors and meanings. Check the individual chart for your ring to know what colors match right.

VioletExcitement, high passion, or high energy
RedHigh excitement, like in anger, shock, or passion
GreenUnstressed, calm
BlueHeightened calm, a lovable state
Amber or yellowNervousness, mixed emotions
BrownWorried or nervous
GrayStrained, stressed, on edge
BlackHeightened stress or anxiety

Frequently Asked Questions About Mood Rings

Here are our answers to popular questions people have about mood rings.

What does brown mean on a mood ring?

Brown is a color close to yellow on the mood ring. It corresponds to nerves, anxiety, or worry. When you’re in the beginning stages of stress, your ring will turn brown.

Can you put clear nail polish on a mood ring?

Yes, you can. If your finger reacts with your mood ring’s metal, you can put some clear nail polish on it to reduce the reaction rate. However, you’ll need to reapply the nail polish as it chips over time.

Why can’t mood rings get wet?

Water is notorious for destroying mood rings. If water seeps into the liquid crystal, it can do irreparable damage, turning your ring unresponsive. Your ring might turn black, never changing color again.

Why is my mood ring always black?

If your ring is always black, it might be damaged. Your ring will get damaged if exposed to moisture, extreme heat for long periods, or even while trying to get it resized. 

Take care of your ring by keeping it in a cool, dry place and taking it off when your hands are wet.

Are mood rings harmful?

Mood rings aren’t harmful, no. As long as the ring is made with safe metals, it’s safe for wearing and won’t hurt you. It might turn your finger green if made with copper, but that’s a harmless physical reaction.

Do mood rings expire?

Mood rings don’t last forever. After a couple of years, your ring will turn black and won’t respond anymore. 

Some older rings from the 1970s have stones still functioning today, but modern stones have short lifespans. To reduce the risk of your ring going bad quickly, keep it dry and away from high temperatures. 

Wear Your Heart on Your Finger

Mood rings hold a bit of whimsy and can make a wearer more conscious of their emotions. They may not predict our feelings with a lot of accuracy, but that doesn’t make them any less fascinating.

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