Pearls can get a bad rep for being old-fashioned. Simply the mention of pearls and you’re likely imagining a single strand worn by your grandmother. As of late, however, pearl engagement rings have become modernized in a way that makes them incredibly cool and chicer than ever. Considering how everything in fashion comes back again, pearls endure through the ebbs and flows of trends, making them the perfect candidate for an engagement ring that is both timeless yet modern and most importantly, one-of-a-kind.
Classic and elegant, pearls are considered “the Queen of gems” and the oldest-known gem worn as jewelry by a Persian princess, dating back to around 520 B.C. How’s that for timeless? They’re synonymous with beauty and purity, many of which are incredibly rare. If you’re considering a pearl engagement ring, you’ll need to be privy to the various types of pearls on the market.
Natural pearls are extremely rare and incredibly costly—don’t expect to find one that doesn’t come with a hefty price tag. Many are already harvested, so prepare for a diligent search. More commonly, there are cultured pearls which are grown in pearl farms, saltwater pearls like the Akoya pearl which are grown in Japanese and Chinese waters, freshwater pearls which are grown in, yep, you guessed it, freshwater lakes, rivers, and ponds (predominately in China), and imitation pearls which are typically a coated glass bead. It’s also important to realize that while pearls are often round and bead-like, not all come this way. Some pearls are pear-shaped or misshapen (known as baroque pearls), which make for pieces of jewelry that are anything but cookie cutter.
Myriad pearl engagement rings are on the market with options ranging from super simple to diamond-adorned to contemporary. If you’re already considering a pearl engagement ring, we figure something less than standard is up your alley in terms of design, like a conceptual trio of cultured pearls inlaid with glistening diamonds on a yellow gold band or a trapezoidal arch of white diamond pavé over a grey Tahitian pearl in 18K recycled gold.
More of a traditionalist? An Art Deco diamond ring flanked by two cultured pearls on each side is stunning in a platinum diamond band. Or, consider a cultured Akoya pearl with a diamond halo set on a diamond white gold band. Simply gorgeous.
If you think a pearl engagement ring is for you, peruse our edit of 52 styles ahead. There’s no doubt one suited to your style and budget. Get inspired!