Pearls can get a bad rep for being old-fashioned. Simply the mention of them and you’re likely imagining a single strand worn by your grandmother. But celebrities like Ariana Grande and Emma Stone have recently made the case for pearl engagement rings, and if we're being honest, the timeless stone has never been chicer.
"Pearls are among the more, if not the most, delicate choices for an engagement ring," James Allen gemologist Lorraine Brantner tells Brides. "Pearl rings are not very common, so it is an easy way to stand out and get people talking about your engagement."
Meet the Expert
Lorraine Brantner is a gemologist and sales manager at James Allen. Founded in 2006, James Allen is the largest privately held online diamond and bridal jewelry retailer in the world.
What Do Pearl Engagement Rings Symbolize?
Pearl engagement rings symbolize beauty and purity, and many of them are incredibly rare. Brantner adds, "Their organic and lustrous beauty has symbolized the moon and its power and their subtle sheen hints towards purity." They are considered “the Queen of gems" and centuries ago were once only reserved for royalty. Pearl is also the birthstone for the month of June.
Types of Pearl Engagement Rings
Just like other gemstones, there are plenty of types of pearls to choose from for your engagement ring. For starters, there are natural and cultured pearls, with the latter requiring human intervention to form. Natural pearls are extremely rare and incredibly costly. Brantner offers, "There are different types of pearls, some rarer and more sought after than others, so the species and size can affect pricing. Pearl rings can be rather affordable at just a few hundred [dollars] and go into the thousands."
Here, the four main types of cultured pearls, which are most commonly used in jewelry.
- Freshwater Cultured Pearls: Per Brantner, freshwater pearls are typically the most affordable option—and the most commonly produced. These pearls are formed in freshwater lakes, rivers, and ponds, and come in a range of shapes and sizes.
- Akoya Cultured Pearls: Slightly more expensive than freshwater pearls, Akoya pearls are also quite common in fine jewelry. "They have a white base color with a subtle iridescent rose glow," describes Brantner.
- South Sea Cultured Pearls: An even more luxurious option, South Sea pearls are mostly sourced from Australia, Indonesia, and the Philippines. Branter says, "If you like the richness of an all-gold pearl search for a South Sea."
- Tahitian Cultured Pearls: Tahitian pearls get their name from the French Polynesian island Tahiti, as they are primarily formed there. Sometimes referred to as "black pearls," they showcase "hypnotic and moody colors."
What to Look for in a Pearl Engagement Ring
There are plenty of pearl engagement rings that feature standalone pearls—after all, this lustrous gem looks beautiful on its own!
But, if you're still hoping to sport some bling on your ring finger, there are ways a simple pearl can be jazzed up. "Tapered baguettes or round diamonds on the sides is a very classy way to show off your pearl and add extra sparkle to your ring," says Brantner. "You can also mix and match shapes of diamonds and complementary gemstones like multi-colored sapphires to create a ring as unique as you are!"
How to Care for a Pearl Engagement Ring
Since pearls are organic material, they are more susceptible to damage compared to diamond rings. Per Brantner, "The fine coating on the surface of a pearl, called nacre, is very thin and once worn away cannot be replaced or repaired. Pearls should always be 'last on, first off' and gently wiped with a clean jewelry cloth and safely stored away from other jewelry items that could cause scratches."
Avoid storing your pearl engagement ring, and other pearl jewelry, in air-tight containers for long periods of time, as this can cause damage.
Ready to say "yes!" to a pearl engagement ring? Peruse our favorite 18 pearl engagement rings in every style and budget.
Master Jewelry Shop Natural Diamond Pearl Engagement Ring
Consider this Ariana Grande's ring for the minimalist bride. Here, a large natural pearl is put on full display, although it is off-set by a dainty bezel-set diamond.
SHOP NOW: Etsy, was $219, now $175
Kataoka Winter Pearl Ring
If this bauble looks familiar it's because you've seen it on Emma Stone's finger. Her fiancé, Dave McCary, proposed to the actress with this gorgeous snowflake-like pearl ring in November 2019.
SHOP NOW: Catbird, $4,780
Tiffany South Sea Noble Pearl Ring
This ring was made for the timeless bride. Set in platinum and surrounded by a halo of round brilliant diamonds, the button-shaped South Sea pearl is on full display.
SHOP NOW: Tiffany & Co., $5,600
Kay Jewelers Cultured Pearl Ring With Diamonds
If you're interested in a three-stone engagement (alá Meghan Markle!) but not satisfied with diamonds, turn to this white gold ring from Kay Jewelers. The trio of cultured pearls is completely unexpected while small diamond accents add a touch of bling.
SHOP NOW: Kay Jewelers, $349.99
M Collection Akoya Cultured Pearl Ring
Inspired by the letter M, this Mikimoto ring boasts an 8.5mm Akoya cultured pearl and a polished 18K white gold band. But there is more than meets the eye when it comes to this masterpiece: If you look closely you'll notice small diamonds atop the prongs.
SHOP NOW: Mikimoto, $2,800
James Allen 14K White Gold Freshwater Cultured Pearl And Diamond Vine Ring
Diamonds and pearls elegantly combine to form this enchanting ring. From the diamond-studded vine motif to the stunning freshwater, this bauble is contemporary and romantic.
SHOP NOW: James Allen, was $670, $502
KatKim Pearl Crescendo Ring
We can't decide what we like most: The 5mm Akoya pearl floating inside four diamond pavé prongs or the wrapping 18K gold band. Either way, this delicate KatKim ring is lovely to look at and undoubtedly unique.
SHOP NOW: KatKim, $2,730
LoveRingsDesign Pearl Engagement Ring Set
This ring set is proof that you don't need to choose between pearls and diamonds. The timeless pearl engagement ring is accented by a diamond pavé band, and both are available in white, yellow, and rose gold.
SHOP NOW: Etsy, was $699, now $629.10
Jemma Wynne Prive Tahitian Pearl and Diamond Ring
Who says your ring has to showcase a white pearl?! Turn to this unique piece by Jemma Wynne that pairs a shiny Tahitian with a bezel-set, caret-cut diamond, all resting on a 18K yellow gold band.
SHOP NOW: Jemma Wynne, $5,250
Zales Cultured Freshwater Pearl and Diamond Accent Ring in 14K White Gold
Between the split shank band, brilliant freshwater pearl, and the swooping diamond pavé accent, this is a ring you'll get tired of looking at. Pair with a simple diamond pavé wedding band to keep this the center of attention.
SHOP NOW: Zales, was $949, now $749.99
Delfina Delettrez Pearl Piercing Diamond Ring
Two pearls are better than one when it comes to this unique bauble. A glamourous quirk, the larger white pearl is topped with a petite diamond.
SHOP NOW: Farfetch, $930
Wouters & Hendrix Gold 18K Yellow Gold Emerald & Pearl Ring
Colored gemstones are having a major moment right now—why not pair them with a pearl? Perfect for a bride searching for a timeless engagement ring with a fun twist.
SHOP NOW: Farfetch, $723
Jemma Wynne Prive White Pearl and Pavé Diamond Ring
With a ring like this, there is no need for a wedding band! We love how the rhodium band contrasts with the bright white pearls.
SHOP NOW: Jemma Wynne, $2,835
Paloma Picasso Olive Leaf Pearl Ring
Inspired by an olive branch, this romantic Tiffany & Co. ring displays a freshwater pearl in a stunning sterling silver setting. Simple, yet elegant.
SHOP NOW: Tiffany & Co., $495
J. LUU Diamond and Pearl Open Ring Yellow Gold
Pearls are well-suited for open rings. But the bold style is given an upgrade through petite diamonds on either side of the band.
SHOP NOW: J. LUU, $475
Zales Cultured Freshwater Pearl
Perfect for the vintage-inspired bride, this ring features a freshwater pearl flanked by a white sapphire and a trio of diamonds on either side. Nothing short of elegant!
SHOP NOW: Zales, was $499, now $389.99
Cultured Pearl Diamond Band Ring 14 Karat Yellow Gold Fine Jewelry
While this ring may be vintage, it is still modern in its own right. Three lustrous pearls alternate between two bezel-diamonds on a 14K yellow gold band.
SHOP NOW: 1stdibs, $475
Nadine Aysoy Elle Et Lui Morganite Ring
When this ring rests on your hand, both the pearl and morganite stone appear to sit between your fingers, creating a unique look. The unexpected style is made traditional by the help of diamond halos surrounding both stones.
SHOP NOW: Nadine Aysoy, $8,530
Mateo 14K Gold Pearl & Diamond Half Moon Ring
This beautiful and geometric ring in 14k gold, cultured pearl and diamonds, is inspired by Wassily Kandinsky's painting, Floating.
SHOP NOW: Mateo, $700