What Do Mood Ring Colors Mean?

Mood rings have fascinated people for decades with their purported ability to reflect our emotions through colorful changes. But how exactly do these chameleon-like rings work? And what do the different colors actually mean?

Let’s unlock the secrets behind the mood ring phenomenon.

A Brief History of Mood Rings

Mood rings first surfaced in the 1970s as a fad jewelry item that claimed to reveal a wearer’s emotional state through reversible color changes. They were invented in 1975 by Joshua Reynolds and Maris Ambats, who worked with a New York specialty store called Bonanza to bring them to market.

The original mood ring was made of a heat-sensitive liquid crystal sealed underneath a stone, usually a clear quartz. As the temperature of your finger changed, the liquid crystals would shift colors. A builtin metal band under the stone was said to detect subtle variations in your body temperature and reflect the color most associated with your mood.

At the height of their popularity in the 70s, millions of mood rings were sold. Retail prices often exceeded $45, which would be equivalent to almost $300 today. The rings spawned numerous copycat items like mood necklaces and mood flowers. Their fame was fleeting, however, and mood rings faded from popularity in the late 70s.

In the early 21st century, mood rings saw a revival in popularity. Modern mood rings still rely on heat-sensitive liquid crystals but now come in an array of styles. The color chart meanings have also been updated to be more nuanced.

How Mood Rings Work

The technology behind mood rings is surprisingly simple. Thermochromic liquid crystals inside the ring shift colors based on temperature changes. When you wear a mood ring, the metal band conducts heat from your finger to the liquid crystals, altering their structure and light-reflection properties.

In their relaxed state, the crystals reflect a green or blue color. But when they are heated even a few degrees, they start to twist and reflect different wavelengths of light, causing an apparent color change.

Standard mood ring liquid crystals switch between colors at precise temperature thresholds. For example, green at 82degF, blue at 77degF, purple at 74degF, and so on. The ambient temperature, skin temperature, blood flow to your fingertips, and other factors all influence the liquid crystals to hit those color-change points.

Common Mood Ring Color Meanings

While mood ring vendors assign specific emotional meanings to each color, these interpretations are more for fun than based on science. Here are the most common mood ring color meanings:

Black – Tense, stressed

The black color appears when your mood ring is cooling down from a warmer temperature or has been exposed to very cold ambient temperatures. Black is seen as reflecting high stress, anxiety, or nervousness.

Blue – Relaxed, calm

The default blue or blue-green mood ring color denotes a balanced, relaxed state free from emotional extremes. This is considered the “baseline” reading.

Green – Normal, neutral

Green is closest to blue on the mood color wheel and also indicates a calm, centered mood lacking intense emotion. It is thought to be the most “normal” state.

Yellow – Happy, cheerful

Bright golden yellow on a mood ring is tied to optimism, joy, and happiness. Yellow shows an upbeat mood driven by active passion or excitement.

Brown – Bored

A brown or murky brown mood ring color is interpreted as boredom or apathy. Brown implies a mild negative mood state due to lack of excitement or interest.

Purple – Passionate, loving

Purple or violet generally denotes passion, romance, and creative flow. It reflects love, sexual excitement, intuitive energy, or inspiration.

Gray – Sad, anxious

The color gray indicates sadness, grief, or anxiety. It points to a negative mood state brought on by loss, disappointment, or worry.

Factors That Affect Mood Ring Colors

Many variables can alter your mood ring colors beyond emotions alone. This explains why the colors do not always align with internal states:

  • Ambient air temperature – Colder environments lead to black/gray while hotter ones cause yellow/brown.
  • Blood circulation – Better circulation makes fingers warmer and mood rings more yellow.
  • Skin thickness – Thicker skin mutes the heat reaching mood ring crystals.
  • Finger size – Larger fingers retain more heat than smaller fingers.
  • Hydration – Dehydration reduces blood volume and makes fingers cooler.
  • Physical activity – Exercise warms the body and fingers, shifting colors.
  • Stress hormones – Stress can constrict blood vessels in the extremities.

Mood ring color changes reveal more about your physical state than emotions. But they can still be an amusing way to track shifts in body temperature throughout the day.

There is no scientific proof that mood rings can accurately reflect or detect your emotions. The enthusiastic color meanings promoted by mood ring companies are more for entertainment.

That said, some limited research suggests finger temperature does correlate to some extent with mood. But the effects are inconsistent and unreliable. Mood rings are better thought of as novelty jewelry rather than effective mood detectors.

Modern mood rings remain popular as fun fashion accessories. While they do react to shifts in body temperature, the claimed emotional color meanings should be taken with a grain of salt. Mood rings can provide amusement but their actual “reading” depends on many physical factors.

In the end, mood rings offer a novel way to watch your body heat change throughout the day. But only you can know what emotions you are actually feeling inside.