Pearls have been worn by royal women for centuries, and many pieces of jewelry featuring white stones have been passed down through generations. But why are pearls so popular among aristocratic and wealthy families? Many famous women in the spotlight have worn pearls in the past, from Princess Anne to Margaret Thatcher.
Queen Elizabeth II and the Queen Mother attend the funeral of Diana, Princess of Wales, outside Westminster Abbey. Photo: Anwar Hussein Getty Images
“Pearls are traditional for Queens going back one thousand years — there has never been a Queen who didn’t wear pearls,” Leslie Field, author of The Queen’s Jewels, tells PEOPLE. “They were rare, beautiful, and lustrous and the more you wear them, the more lustrous they become.”
These women’s pearls were worn not only for aesthetic reasons but also to let the world know about their personalities, background, and personal life.
Since the Ptolemaic dynasty in ancient Egypt, pearls have been associated with class, elegance, and sophistication, worn by royalty to signify their status. The tradition was then passed on to the French monarchs through the Holy Roman Empire, who brought it into fashion during the Middle Ages and subsequently spread across Europe. This is when the British Empire adopted the style.
Queen Elizabeth I was often depicted in portraits festooned in pearls. Photo: Getty Images
The Queen's three-strand pearl necklace was a gift from her father, George VI, when she was young. Throughout her life, Queen Elizabeth II was rarely seen without her pearls. Interestingly, she made an identical necklace at the same time, and later, she got a third necklace. A third necklace—also a three-strand pearl strand—was given to her by the Emir of Qatar in 1953.
Portrait of Queen Elizabeth II of Great Britain. Photo: Ranald Mackechnie
Her Majesty is understood to wear the three necklaces in rotation. It's the necklace she feels is appropriate—she wants to wear pearls every day, just like her mother and grandmother had done before her. The Queen’s father, King George VI, gave her a thin platinum chain, to which he added two pearls for each birthday. She also gives each of her daughters and granddaughters a pearl for their birthdays every year so that by the time they are 18, they will have enough pearls to make a necklace. Queen Elizabeth II wouldn’t wear a diamond necklace to a charity lunch — it is simply traditional that a lady would wear pearls during the day.
Women in the Royal Family can wear diamond wedding rings normally during the day, but other diamond jewelry can only be used on special occasions. Members of the royal family cannot create a flashy feeling for others. etiquette expert Myka Meier said that members of the royal family can wear pearls, topaz, and other jewelry during the day, but they must not touch diamonds, and the public must not feel that the royal family members are too extravagant. Members of the royal family cannot wear diamonds during the day and must wear them after 6 pm.
The Royal Family wears pearls to represent the aristocratic virtues of liberality, magnificence, and generosity. Compared to the dazzling but aggressively sharp diamond, the round shape and gentle luster of pearls better embody a woman's gentle refinement and otherworldly independence.
Queen Elizabeth wearing Bahrain earrings to a concert in 2015. Photo: Chris Jackson
The Queen is most often shown wearing pearls, usually wearing one of her sublime pearl necklaces with a matching pearl brooch and earrings.
Formed by chance within the shells of mollusc, natural pearls are rare miracles of nature that have fascinated humans since ancient times. The Greeks believed they were formed from the tears of the gods. In Hindu culture, pearls are associated with the moon, symbolizing wisdom and purity. In Chinese tradition, a pearl is placed in the mouth of the deceased as protection to ease their journey to the afterlife. It’s interesting how significant pearls are across world cultures. They’re a symbol of subtle elegance, and people can relate to that wherever they are from.
During the Renaissance, due to pearls’ rarity and high value, these sea jewels were associated with wealth and high social status. For Queen Elizabeth I, who was keen to portray the image of the Virgin Queen, pearls represented purity and chastity, as well as a visual symbol that conveyed her extreme wealth and power.
However, pearls were not strongly associated with mourning until the reign of Queen Victoria. She was just 42 when she lost her beloved husband, Prince Albert, in 1861, and the Queen rest of her life - nearly 40 years - was spent in mourning. Thanks to her, strict rules were established around mourning ceremonies.
Of course, such rules are no longer strictly followed. Few people wear this jewelry today to mourn. However, pearls, with their soft, delicate luster and association with purity, are still considered an appropriate choice.
The Duchess of Cambridge attends Prince Philip's funeral. Photo: Chris JacksonGetty Images
Pearls are always in style.
Royals have been known to wear their classic pearl jewellery pieces for decades and even across multiple generations.
The perennial appeal of pearls among royals is partly due to the way that, not unlike diamonds, they cast a gentle and kind light on all that surrounds them and flatter complexions.
They are versatile, blending in with different styles of dress for different occasions.
There is also something discreet and understated about pearls, their true value not glaringly obvious, and often known only to the wearer.
Yet for those who know how to look closely at precious jewellery, high-quality, lustrous pearls are highly valued.
Whether for members of the royal family or ordinary people, the emotions entrusted by jewelry are always the same moving. It also shows how important the status of pearls is in the eyes of the British royal family.
From ancient times to the present, pearls have always shown women's taste. Shakespeare once said: “Pearls are silent, but they can move women's hearts more than any language.”
Today, pearls have already entered the homes of ordinary people, and even become the jewelry that women must have in their lives. It is not difficult to find that pearls are the most popular darling in the jewelry industry.
Genevieve also wrote in the book Elegance
"Among all the jewelry in the world, the most suitable for all kinds of clothing, and the indispensable accessory in every woman's wardrobe - is a string of pearls." Pearls and women seem to be a pair. A woman who loses pearls, no matter how gorgeous she is Appears dull. In terms of fashion, pearls have never been lost.
People like pearls probably because they make women of every stage wear a different charm. Prestige, holiness, beauty, and fashion have always been synonymous with it.