Pearl Engagement Rings: The Complete Guide

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Courtesy of Kay Jewelers / Design by Michela Buttignol

Pearls get a bad rap for being old-fashioned. The word itself is practically synonymous with 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 the timeless stone has never been chicer.

What Is a Pearl?

Pearls are a unique gemstone formed inside a shelled mollusk, such as an oyster or mussel. The gemstone is best known for its glistening iridescent outer covering. 

"Pearls are among the more, if not the most, delicate choices for an engagement ring," says gemologist Lorraine Brantner. "Pearl rings are not very common, so it is an easy way to stand out and get people talking about your engagement."

Not only are pearl engagement rings an eye-catching look, but they also have a special meaning connected with them. It's been said that pearls symbolize wisdom, integrity, and loyalty, all of which are important in your relationship with your partner. "Their organic and lustrous beauty has symbolized the moon and its power, and their subtle sheen hints towards purity," adds Brantner.

Meet the Expert

  • Lorraine Brantner is a gemologist and sales manager at James Allen. Founded in 2006, James Allen is the world's largest privately held online diamond and bridal jewelry retailer.

Interested in learning more about this nontraditional engagement ring stone? We've laid out the pros, cons, and everything in between.

Keeping scrolling to learn if a pearl engagement ring is right for you.

Pros and Cons of a Pearl Engagement Ring

Pearls are an attractive and elegant choice for your engagement ring. Due to the gemstone's nature and rarity, pearls haven't always been a popular choice for engagement rings until recently, so you can be sure that your ring will stand out from the rest. Additionally, the versatile color of the stone allows it to pair beautifully with any metal of your choosing.

There are some drawbacks to the gemstone. Pearls may also lose their luster as the years go on, and they are incredibly soft, ranking between 2.5 and 4.5 on the Mohs scale of hardness. Most unconventional engagement ring stones, such as sapphires and rubies, start at an 8, and traditional diamonds have the highest ranking with a 10. For this reason, you will have to take extra care of your pearl engagement ring to prevent any potential damage or scrapes.

What to Look for in a Pearl Engagement Ring

  • Where should I shop for a pearl engagement ring? Despite their rarity, pearls can be found at a variety of jewelers. For more choices, try looking outside of traditional engagement rings and search for your ring where you may find heirloom pieces and fine jewelry.
  • What is the typical cost of a pearl engagement ring? "Pearl rings can be rather affordable at just a few hundred [dollars] and go into the thousands," says Brantner. Natural pearls are extremely rare and incredibly costly. "There are different types of pearls, some rarer and more sought after than others, so the species and size can affect pricing."
  • What stones best complement a pearl engagement ring? "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 multicolored 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 than diamond rings. "The fine coating on the surface of a pearl, called nacre, is very thin and, once worn away, cannot be replaced or repaired," says Brantner. "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."

Types of Pearls

There are four types of cultured pearls commonly used in jewelry. Below is a description of each.

  • Freshwater: Typically the most affordable option—and the most commonly produced—these pearls are formed in freshwater lakes, rivers, and ponds, and they come in a range of shapes and sizes.
  • Akoya: 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: An even more luxurious option, South Sea pearls are mostly sourced from Australia, Indonesia, and the Philippines. "If you like the richness of an all-gold pearl, search for a South Sea," says Brantner.
  • Tahitian: 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," according to Brantner.

Ready to say "yes!" to a pearl engagement ring? Peruse our favorite pearl engagement rings in every style and budget.

01
of 28

Master Jewelry Shop Natural Diamond Pearl Engagement Ring

pearl engagement ring

Courtesy of Etsy

Consider this ring for the minimalist bride. Here, a large natural pearl is put on full display, although it is offset by a dainty bezel-set diamond.

02
of 28

Kataoka Winter Pearl Ring

pearl engagement ring

Courtesy of Catbird

If this bauble looks familiar, it's because you've seen it on Emma Stone's finger. Her husband, Dave McCary, proposed to the actress with this gorgeous snowflake-like pearl ring in November 2019.

03
of 28

Tiffany South Sea Noble Pearl Ring

pearl engagement ring

Courtesy of Tiffany & Co.

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.

04
of 28

Kay Jewelers Cultured Pearl Ring With Diamonds

pearl engagement ring

Courtesy of Kay Jewelers

If you're interested in a three-stone engagement (a lá 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.

05
of 28

M Collection Akoya Cultured Pearl Ring

pearl engagement ring

Courtesy of Mikimoto

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.

06
of 28

James Allen 14K White Gold Freshwater Cultured Pearl and Diamond Vine Ring

pearl engagement ring

Courtesy of James Allen

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.

07
of 28

KatKim Pearl Crescendo Ring

pearl engagement ring

Courtesy of KatKim

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.

08
of 28

LoveRingsDesign Pearl Engagement Ring Set

pearl engagement ring set

Courtesy of Etsy

This ring set is proof 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.

09
of 28

Zales Cultured Freshwater Pearl and Diamond Accent Ring in 14K White Gold

White gold engagement ring with pearl and diamond accent

Courtesy of Zales

Between the split shank band, brilliant freshwater pearl, and the swooping diamond pavé accent, this is not a ring you'll get tired of looking at. Pair with a simple diamond pavé wedding band to keep this the center of attention.

10
of 28

Delfina Delettrez Pearl Piercing Diamond Ring

Gold band with two pearls and diamond

Courtesy of Delfina Delettrez

Two pearls are better than one when it comes to this unique bauble. A glamorous quirk, the larger white pearl is topped with a petite diamond.

11
of 28

Wouters & Hendrix Gold 18K Yellow Gold Pearl Emerald Ring

pearl engagement ring

Courtesy of Farfetch

Colored gemstones are having a major moment—why not pair one with a pearl? It's perfect for a bride searching for a timeless engagement ring with a fun twist.

12
of 28

Paloma Picasso Olive Leaf Pearl Ring

pearl engagement ring

Courtesy of Tiffany & Co.

Inspired by an olive branch, this romantic Tiffany & Co. ring displays a freshwater pearl in a stunning sterling silver setting. Simple yet elegant.

13
of 28

J. LUU Diamond and Pearl Open Ring Yellow Gold

Diamond and pearl open ring in yellow gold

Courtesy of J.Luu

Pearls are well-suited for open rings. But the bold style is given an upgrade through petite diamonds on the band.

14
of 28

Zales Cultured Freshwater Pearl

Pearl, white sapphire and diamonds in rose gold band

Courtesy of Zales

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!

15
of 28

Mateo 14K Gold Pearl & Diamond Half Moon Ring

mateo ring

Courtesy of Mateo

This beautiful and geometric ring in 14k gold, cultured pearl, and diamonds, is inspired by Wassily Kandinsky's painting "Floating."

16
of 28

Angara Princess Diana Inspired Freshwater Pearl Ring

Angara Princess Diana Inspired Freshwater Pearl Ring

COURTESY OF ANGARA

Inspired by the grace and elegance of Princess Diana, this engagement ring is a showstopper. A floral-esque halo of prong-set diamonds surrounds the center freshwater cultured pearl. 

17
of 28

Zales Cultured Freshwater Pearl and Diamond Accent Tri-Sides Ring

Zales Cultured Freshwater Pearl and Diamond Accent Tri-Sides Ring

COURTESY OF ZALES

This sophisticated pearl is highlighted by trios of eye-catching diamond accents on either side. The ring is crafted in 14K gold.

18
of 28

Kay Jewelers Cultured Pearl Ring

Kay Jewelers Cultured Pearl Ring

COURTESY OF KAY JEWELERS

Set in an intricately made 10K yellow gold band, this cultured freshwater pearl certainly makes a statement. It is accompanied by a center row of bezel-set round diamonds with rows of diamonds above and below.

19
of 28

Catbird Birth of Venus Ring

Catbird Birth of Venus Ring

COURTESY OF CATBIRD

This pearl engagement ring bursts with beauty. The design is reminiscent of the infamous Sandro Botticelli painting "Birth of Venus," making it a one-of-a-kind stunning piece. The Akoya pearl is set in a 14K yellow gold band.

20
of 28

Maui Divers Jewelry Hawaiian Heirloom Fresh Water Pearl Ring

Maui Divers Jewelry Hawaiian Heirloom Fresh Water Pearl Ring

COURTESY OF MAUI DIVERS JEWELRY

This unique freshwater pearl has a peachy tint to it. It is held in an intricately crafted 14K rose gold band.

21
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Mateo 14k Gold & Diamond Pearl Sphere Ring

Mateo Gold & Diamond Pearl Sphere Ring

COURTESY OF MATEO

Less is more with this cultured pearl ring. Held in a 14K gold diamond pavé band, this pearl embodies class while remaining chic.

22
of 28

Jared Cultured Akoya Pearl Engagement Ring

Jared Cultured Akoya Pearl Engagement Ring

COURTESY OF JARED

This cultured Akoya pearl is highlighted in a halo setting surrounded by diamonds. It is a dazzling way to style a pearl while still having some shine.

23
of 28

Etsy Vintage Pearl Engagement Ring

Etsy Vintage Pearl Engagement Ring

COURTESY OF ETSY

Inspired by romantic eras of the past, this vintage-style ring holds all of the timelessness of eternal love. This Akoya rose gold pearl is paired with a diamond band that comes in both yellow gold and platinum.

24
of 28

Delfina Delettrez Two In One Diamond and Pearl Ring

Delfina Delettrez Two In One Diamond and Pearl Ring

COURTESY OF FARFETCH

This modern take on a traditional pearl ring comes from Delfina Delettrez, a part of the iconic Fendi dynasty. Two pearls are held on a pierced band with a 0.05ct white diamond in the center.

25
of 28

Capucinne Pearl Engagement Ring

Capucinne Pearl Engagement Ring

COURTESY OF CAPUCINNE

A single pear-shaped pearl stands alone on this minimalist engagement ring, but if you love this ring and want a bit of shine, no worries. You can custom design it with a gemstone of your choosing.

26
of 28

Angara Golden South Sea Pearl Bypass Engagement Ring

Angara Golden South Sea Pearl Bypass Engagement Ring

COURTESY OF ANGARA

This Golden South Sea cultured pearl is truly a treasure. Two prong-set diamonds flank the golden pearl. The stones are set in a 14K rose gold band.

27
of 28

Etsy Pearl Engagement Ring

Etsy Pearl Engagement Ring

COURTESY OF ETSY

Art deco intersects with class in this handcrafted pearl ring with a woven designed band.

28
of 28

David Yurman Petite Solair Bypass Ring

David Yurman Petite Solair Bypass Ring

COURTESY OF DAVID YURMAN

This Toi et Moi ring is an ode to everlasting love with two cultured Akoya pearls surrounded with pavé diamonds. The 18K yellow gold band features David Yurman's iconic cable design.

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