Although comparing diamonds and pearls is like comparing apples and oranges, we find ourselves asking, what do women prefer? They feel so different, and it is hard to pit them against each other— but we will try. First, let’s dive into what sets the two classic stones apart, the pros and cons, and ultimately what is the better choice for women.
Both pearls and diamonds have long enriched histories and have been coveted as valuable stones for hundreds of years. Jewels date back 7,500 years, and while now they can be easily purchased through retailers such as The Pearl Source, they once were so rare they were reserved only for the royals. On the other hand, diamonds don’t have quite as long of a history. One of the oldest diamonds known, the Beau Sancy Diamond, is only about 500 years old. Pearls were also harder to come by, making them incredibly rare and valuable. Mining efforts were increased to grow the number of diamonds available, whereas pearl diving was incredibly dangerous.
One of the most expensive pearl legend stories is about the great Cleopatra. Desperate to impress Rome with Egypt’s wealth, Cleopatra bet Marc Antony that she could host the most elaborate banquet in history. She took a pearl from one of her large earrings and crushed it, dissolving it into a goblet of wine and drank it. It is estimated the pearl would be worth 28.5 million dollars today.
Pearls and diamonds may be the hardest to compare in the beauty category as they are both well-loved for different attributes. People are drawn to diamonds for their ability to sparkle and catch the light. The rock is cut to enhance the diamond’s brilliance so that it refracts and reflects light to appear sparkly.
In contrast, pearls are loved for their luster and pearlescent qualities. That comes from light interacting with crystals in the pearl’s nacre and reflecting it to the eye. They are opaque in comparison to the diamond’s transparency. Both gems are available in a variety of colors, sizes, and shapes, although they naturally come in a broader range of colors.
They are unique in the fact that no two beads are exactly alike, which makes them extremely special. Both gems are natural, but they are sourced a little more naturally than diamonds, which are mined from rocks. They come out of oysters, ready to be polished and can be immediately used in jewelry, whereas diamonds must be cut, cleaned, and polished before becoming jewelry available.
There is a reason why pearl jewelry has always been prevalent in fashion and on-screen— because it conveys a classic, elegant look. Pearls have fluctuated in the fashion world over the last 100 years, as most trends do. They first rose to popularity in the 20th century after they started to become more accessible. Coco Chanel was a prominent designer that started incorporating pearls into her styles and brand and often promoted them as a must-have accessory. In addition to iconic designers, actors like Audrey Hepburn were often seen rocking the classic accessory both onscreen and off. The popularity of the pearl did drop for a while in the late 20th century.
However, in the past year, pearls have been a breakout trend. Designers are once again turning towards the classic gem to incorporate into jewelry. A strand of pearls is still seen as one of the most iconic pieces of jewelry.
Diamonds have not seen the same rise and fall of popularity and have been in constant favor of the public. De Beers began a marketing campaign in the 1930s; however, that propelled diamonds into the stone to turn to for engagement rings. To this day, diamonds are the classic gemstone people turn toward to complete their engagement ring. A pair of diamond studs are also seen as a staple piece of jewelry.
In general, a high-quality pearl will be cheaper to purchase than a high-quality diamond of the same shape and size. Before, when pearl diving was dangerous and rare, its value was extremely high. Scientists have figured out how to grow pearls in oysters, and their value has gone down on the market. There are still a few variations of beads that carry high demand and cost like the South Sea pearls, which are still incredibly expensive.
Diamonds are rare because of the supply in the diamond industry. The stone themselves are not limited to mine, but the industry creates a scarcity of them to maintain the higher value and price tag. Colored diamonds, however, are much rarer, with red, blue, and pink diamonds being the most unique in the world. The most expensive pearl necklace ever auctioned was designed for Elizabeth Taylor, and it was named La Peregrina. In 2011, it was sold for 11.8 million dollars. The Pink Star is the most expensive diamond auctioned off at 71 million in 2017.
The Final Outcome:
From a fashion standpoint, there are more creative advantages in styling pearl jewelry. It was one of the standout jewelry trends in the past year, and I appreciate the accessibility of the gem. Designers and brands have utilized the pearl and incorporated it into modern styles and in different accessories. I consistently turn to a pair of pearl hoops or a pearl embellished headband to amp up my look. Although diamonds are considered more valuable, I am going to go out on a limb here and argue that Marilyn Monroe should have turned to the gem of the sea instead of her iconic musings.