Miranda Otto’s style a Zelda Spellman in Netflix’s The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina has been described by Halie LeSavage in Glamour as “… dark-spirited with an austere flair. She wears only navy and black, in vintage-inspired, conservative silhouettes. ‘Zelda’s into severe, dark, tailored, strong,’ Otto says. ‘She definitely wears her clothes from a time before synthetics were invented. She’s a lady.’”
Head of Costume for the show, Angus Strathie, comments on Aunt Z’s look in Hollywood Reporter:
“Zelda’s clothes are very much ‘30s, ‘40s and ‘50s because there’s a timeless elegance to that,” Strathie says, adding that she also wears a lot of furs because he likes the idea that something died in the process of dressing her.”
The static cigarette rings where very popular in the 1920’s like the silver one on Sunset Boulevard. They were simple and small. It wasn’t until the adjustable tension version that came out in the 1930’s where we start seeing the longer rings like Zelda’s.
Invented in 1934 and patented by George J. Gailey in 1936, this cigarette ring holder design was designed to keep tobacco and tar stains off your fingers. It was classified by the U.S. Patents office as “human necessities” and “smokers' requisites.” Also to note, this patent was first filed on Halloween 1934, Sabrina’s birthday... ooo-ooo-ooo.
In those days, people were real smokers, those pack-a -day types. You could smoke almost anywhere, so it was pretty easy. You know when you pull out your phone when you have nothing to do for a few minutes or seconds while you wait for the elevator, or to cross the street, or catch a bus? In those days, you’d pull out a cigarette instead of a phone. There was no such thing as “light” or “low tar” cigarettes. Cigarettes also didn’t have filters until 1936, when R.J. Reynolds started adding cork filters to Viceroy.
With smoking packs of filterless ciggies as many times as day we we pull out our phones today, those cigarettes left yellow brownish stains on your fingers if you did it often enough. Having fingers stained with a brownish yellow tinge was a common indicator of a smoker, that was found to be déclassé.
For those who wanted to smoke with class, elegance and without the worry of staining their hands, this cigarette holder was an easy option (instead of quitting, right?). It kept your hands more free than a regular cigarette holder that would you have to hold with two or three fingers like a pen. Cartier even used this cigarette holding technology and released one in 14k gold; there’s one currently listed on eBay.
The Hollywood Reporter furthers states that, “Sabrina’s aunts… are several hundred years old. Each has amassed quite the wardrobe.” This makes sense of the decades-long range of clothes, and the quintessential golden smoking ring that is almost constantly on Zelda’s finger throughout the show.
The clasp prong ring holder was patented in 1934, and made popular again in 1950 with the movie Sunset Boulevard with Norma Desmond’s tiny silver cigarette ring, Miranda Otto’s Aunt Zelda and her cigarette ring stole scenes in every episode. Women smoking and the feminine accessories that became popular in the 1920’s was culturally tied to the Women’s Suffrage Movement. Once women (white women) were given the right to vote, the asserted their equality and power through fashion and behavior. Smoking, riding bikes without a chaperone and dancing til dawn in speakeasies were a part of their statement that they could express themselves how they wished.
I’m not saying: “smoking is cool, let’s all start smoking tobaccy ciggies again…” I do think we can all agree that Aunt Zelda’s little cigarette ring was a little “glamorously distracting.”
If one were to get one of these rings, one may not even be using it for tobacco cigarettes. There are herbal cigarettes, some that are even a little “witchy” used as ceremonial or alternatively therapeutic, such as Holy Smokes. This little accessory captured my attention during the show, just as the silver telephone dialer did in when I saw Breakfast at Tiffany’s for the first time. What is that odd little thing, and how can I get one?
After poking all over the internet searching for THE ring, I have finally found it (links and pics below), as well as some history, interesting vintage and antique pieces as well as affordable and accessible options.
History of the cigarette holder ring
I came across this French silver and gold ring style cigarette holder that sold for £200 at auction. This novel exquisite ring is described as “of textured vine or twig form. Two cast silver monkeys, one in top hat and tails, smoking a gold cigar, the other with cap and basket, selling a gold light, standing on gold, faced leaves with textured and incised decoration. A split shaft forming the trunk or stem with a cast monkey sliding lock, smoking a gold pipe.” It looks that the split shaft design was common in fine European jewelry, but hadn’t been officially patented for mass market production until the 1930’s.
Cigarette holders are known to go back as far 1875 when they were first designed by Fabergé as royal gifts from The Romanov (paywall) to each other and to international heads of state. Made from precious metals and exquisitely bejeweled, cigarette holders were a fashion accessory of the wealthy.
A Token of Elegance: Cigarette Holders in Vogue presents 125 images from the cigarette holder collection of Chinese-American art collector Carolyn Hsu-Balcer, a trustee of the China Institute (New York).
Patent and specification design drawings for the pronged cigarette ring:
Under $20, Lady Retro Smoking Ring Holder Small Hand Shelf Cigarette Holder - as worn by Aunt Zelda in The Chilling Tales of Sabrina
This version of the ring holder has the same two prong adjustable cigarette clasp with the same hands design as seen on the show.
Finger Ring Size: US 5.5, 16mm, inner ring diameter: 0.63", inner ring perimeter: 1.7"
Adjustable cigarette grip, suitable for cigarette diameter 0.2" - 0.3"
Colors: Gold and Silver
2. $14, Hands Free Finger Cigarette Holder Ring Smoking Holder
This one doesn’t have the adjustable ball to tighten the tension on the cigarette, but it does come in two different ring sizes for your forefinger. This elegant smoking ring is about $14.00 on Amazon and comes in 16mm and 17mm sizes, and in gold (brass, actually) and silver.
It should fit past the first knuckle on your forefinger, so I advise to size down.
Don’t know your size? Check this ring size chart.
Antique Smoking Rings
3. Cartier 14k gold smoking ring, $1,488.21 USD ($1,950.00 CND)
Antique (approximately 100 years old)
14k yellow gold cigarette holder by Cartier
Designed in the style of a ring, the cigarette holder comprises of a band to fit the finger extending from this is a split post with an adjustable holder at the end
Hallmarked on the inside of the shank is Cartier 14k and two numbers 512 and 537
Total weight of 3.12 grams
Excellent vintage condition
Listed on eBay Canada
4. Ornate 1970's Gold Cigarette Holder, $1,165.00 USD
From the seller:
It is beautifully crafted out of 14k yellow and white gold, and is in incredible condition given its vintage age. It is not worn on a finger, but rather the oval "ring" shape is for gripping between two fingers. The bottom half consists of two prongs that are tension-held by a sliding coil. The coil is slid up to release the prongs and insert a cigarette, then slid down to hold the cigarette in place.
Material: yellow and white gold
Measures: 22 x 66 mm
Thought to be handmade.
Only one available.
Made to order craftsmen ring
5. Silver Smoke Ring by NIVO, $85.00
Class it up with this vintage inspired smoking ring. Inspired by Norma Desmond's cigarette holder from the film Sunset Boulevard.
Handmade item, made to order
Materials: .925 sterling, silver
One final bitchslap before closing out. Thanks for reading!
< EVERYTHING BELOW THIS LINE IS WORK IN PROGRESS>
US Patent: https://patents.google.com/patent/US2042891A/en?assignee=George+J+Gailey
Patent Application: https://patentimages.storage.googleapis.com/ad/fd/fb/f2398a9ecd4046/US2042891.pdf
Sunset Boulevard: on Amazon,
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