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.
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 been popular ever since that time. 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 is 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 is flowing through the fingers, making them warmer. When you're excited or have been exercising, increased circulation warms your fingers.

Thermochromic Crystals and Temperature

Mood rings change color because the liquid crystals in them change color in response to temperature. In other words, the crystals are thermochromic. The stone of a ring has a thin layer of crystals or a sealed capsule of them, with a glass or crystal gem on top. When the temperature changes, the crystals twist and reflect a different wavelength (color) of light.

Although the temperature of your finger, and thus the mood ring, does change in response to your emotions, your finger changes temperature for a lot of other reasons, too. Your mood ring will give erroneous results according to the weather and your health.

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.

When Black Means Broken

Old mood rings, and to some extent new ones, 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 made so that they 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.

Experiment With Mood Rings

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