Do Mood Rings Work?

How a Mood Ring Indicates Your Emotions

A deep blue mood ring color is associated with feelings of peace and calm.
Christian Vierig / Getty Images

Mood rings surfaced as a fad in the 1970s and have remained popular ever since. The rings feature a stone that changes colors when you wear it on your finger. In the original mood ring, the color blue was supposed to indicate the wearer was happy, green when she was calm, and brown or black when she was anxious.

Modern mood rings use different chemicals, so their colors may be different, but the basic premise remains the same: the ring changes color to reflect emotions.

Relationship Between Emotion and Temperature

Do mood rings really work? Can a mood ring tell your mood? While the color change can't indicate emotions with any real accuracy, it can reflect temperature changes caused by the body's physical reaction to emotions.

When you're anxious, blood is directed toward the body's core, reducing the temperature at extremities like the fingers. When you are calm, more blood flows through the fingers, making them warmer. When you're excited or have been exercising, increased circulation warms your fingers.

While the temperature of your finger (thus the color of the mood ring) may change in response to your emotions, fingers change temperature for any number of reasons. So it's not uncommon for a mood ring to provide erroneous results based on factors such as the weather or your health.

Thermochromic Crystals and Temperature

The stone of a mood ring consists of a thin, sealed capsule of crystals which change color in response to shifts in temperature covered by a glass or crystal gem. These thermochromic crystals within the encapsulated layer twist in response to changes in temperature, reflecting a different wavelength (color) of light with each change.

When Black Means Broken

Old mood rings turned black or gray for another reason besides low temperature. If water gets under the crystal of the ring, it disrupts the liquid crystals. Getting the crystals wet permanently ruins their ability to change color. Modern mood rings don't necessarily turn black. The bottom of newer stones may be colored so that when the ring loses its ability to change color it's still attractive.

How Accurate Are the Colors?

Since mood rings are sold as novelty items, a toy or jewelry company can put whatever they want on the color chart that comes with the mood ring. Some companies try to match the colors to what your mood might be for a given temperature. Others probably just go with whatever chart looks pretty.

There's no regulation or standard that applies to all mood rings. However, most companies use liquid crystals that have been engineered to display a neutral or "calm" color at around 98.6 F or 37 C, which is close to normal human skin temperature. These crystals can twist to change colors at slightly warmer or cooler temperatures.

Other mood jewelry is also available, including necklaces and earrings. Since these ornaments aren't always worn touching the skin, they may change color in response to temperature but can't reliably indicate the wearer's mood.

Experiment With Mood Rings

How accurate are mood rings at predicting emotion? You can get one and test it yourself. While the original rings sold in the 1970s were expensive (about $50 for silver-tone and $250 for gold-tone), modern rings are under $10. Collect your own data and see whether they work for you!