Prior to the 20th century, there was no such thing as costume ring jewelry or designer cocktail rings. In the first 20 to 40 years of the 20th century, some of the first mass produced costume rings were prizes at carnivals, in candy machines, and in Cracker Jacks. Costume rings also became popular children’s collectibles as prizes in cereals and Ovaltine. Five and Dime stores, Sears, and Woolworth’s also sold costume rings for children, women, and men.
In the late 1940s or early 1950s, in the boom time of US designer made jewelry, designer cocktail rings became fashionable. Many were unsigned and made by obscure companies like Century Jewelry of Attleboro, MA. Only a few designers made signed rings; namely Avon, Sarah Coventry, Coro (Vendome), Monet, Trifari, and Vargas. Designer vintage costume rings and vintage cocktail rings were most commonly sold with necklaces, bracelets, and earrings (part of a parure) and were rarely sold individually until the 1960s and 1970s. As not many rings were made by any designer, finding vintage designer signed rings in good condition is a challenging task today.
The vast majority of 1950s and 1960s vintage rings in the US were imported from Europe; namely West Germany, Austria, Italy, Spain, and Portugal. The diversity and unique character of vintage European rings makes them collectible and very valuable to vintage jewelry collectors.