At Jussara Lee in the meatpacking district, the pint-size owner guided me to her ring display case. Though she gushed over the smoked-quartz crystal rocks, I preferred the rings carved from dark Canela wood with a yellow quartz by Camila Sarpi. After going to college in Maine, I have a weakness for the Mother Nature look. The stone was polished and certainly gorgeous, but I wanted for something a bit more classic-looking. 11 Little W. 12th St., nr. Ninth Ave.; 212-242-4128.
The rings sold at Tina Tang were pretty tame—cocktail rings are supposed to be garish, not subtle—except for the shiny sterling-silver “Starburst.” Its bulbous, jutting rods looked like a spiky sea urchin—a cute, albeit young look. Even though the cheap price tag was tempting, I could already see the ring tarnishing at the bottom of my jewelry box. 49 Greenwich Ave., at Charles St.; 212-645-6890.
The limited-edition ring by Floridian designer Patrice at Eye Candy was reconstructed from different pieces of vintage jewelry. Its huge size, nearly reaching my knuckle, was a definite conversation starter. But the combination of synthetic cat’s-eye, a star ruby, and 24-karat gold-plated band was way too gaudy. I would have preferred any of the originals that went into making it. 329 Lafayette St., nr. Bleecker St.; 212-343-4275.
Jacob & Co.
The shopgirl at Jacob & Co. advised me to browse until I found the ring that called out to me. After squinting into countless glass cases, I found a stunning 4.95-carat baguette-diamond ring that looked straight out of To Catch a Thief. With an eighteen-karat-white-gold band and two diamond loops, the ring was dazzling enough to wear with anything. Granted, the diamonds were large, but they were restrained by Jacob’s standards. 48 E. 57th St., nr. Park Ave.; 212-719-5887.
At Darling, I spent 30 minutes raking my fingers through a drawer stuffed with costume jewelry. Finally, I fished out one of the more ornate versions, dipped in eighteen-karat gold with a sizable green stone. Though Darling’s shopgirl couldn’t explain much about the quality of the stones, she did rave about how all of the rings were inherited from Woolworth’s 1997 closing. And at only $10, I wouldn’t mind polishing it up with a little soap and water. 1 Horatio St., at Eighth Ave.; 646-336-6966.
Ten Thousand Things
Amid display tables dusted with delicate jewels, I was surprised to discover such a chunky ring at Ten Thousand Things. The eighteen-karat gold piece with a 25-millimeter amber stone was immense—I wouldn’t need to wear any other jewelry. And the amber’s coloring was fascinating, changing from ruby red to a deep blue when held into bright light. But, unfortunately, the ring felt too bulky on my finger. 423 W. 14th St., nr. Washington St.; 212-352-1333.
Boucher made up for its meager selection of cocktail rings with its color selection: Its only style came in green, pink, blue, or gray. I preferred the multicolored ring, done in freshwater pearl, tourmaline, and sterling silver, but I was worried that the hanging pieces would snag my black satin clutch. Plus, I was surrounded by teenage girls doing Sex and the City impressions, so I hightailed it out of the store. 9 Ninth Ave., nr. Little W. 12th St.; 212-206-3775.
The whopping 48.28-carat, rectangular green-tourmaline ring at David Webb was the prettiest stone I’d seen all day. For a second, I considered a career switch to investment banking. Then I noticed the eighteen-karat yellow-gold setting which seemed very Joan Collins. Though the gold’s hue was too mature for me at 23, I’d love this ring in a few decades. 789 Madison Ave., nr. 67th St.; 212-421-3030.