Pearl Engagement Rings?
By Ashley Bailey , Wednesday, August 02, 2006
|Pearl Diamond Ring
How quickly we forget.
Once upon a not so recent time, pearls were apt to be as much a choice of an engagement stone as diamonds.
No, these were not Mikimoto cultured pearls.
These were natural pearls that came from a variety of places such as the Persian Gulf, Australia and Venezuela. Some of these betrothal pearls came from the rivers and streams of North America where in 1857 - a decade before the mammoth diamond finds in South Africa—a chance discovery of a giant pink pearl in a New Jersey mussel for which Tiffany's paid several hundred dollars sparked a nationwide pearl rush.
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|South Sea Pearl Diamond and Sapphire Right Hand Ring
Gradually, the pearl lost favor as an engagement stone, especially as the cultured variety replaced the natural. Would you want a synthetic diamond engagement ring? When Japanese cultured pearls were first introduced in large numbers in the 1920s, America's top jewelers felt they were fakes. They aren't, of course, but they aren't completely natural also.
In any case, the flood of cultured pearls set the stage for the almost e xclusive predominance of the diamond for nuptial purposes - especially when De Beers started placing fabulous stones on the ears and fingers and necks of Hollywood screen goddesses in the early 1930s.
Today the pearl engagement ring is hardly a memory. But a century ago it was a tradition.
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