You’ve seen those online lists featuring the world’s most expensive restaurant meals, right? The final, most expensive dish is always something made with precious metals or jewels…like a hamburger with gold flakes sprinkled on top, or champagne with diamonds floating at the bottom of the glass.

Well, those restaurants might seem to be innovating, but the idea of adding gems to a meal to up its value dates all the way back to the famous Cleopatra herself!

Back when she and Marc Antony were an item, according to the ancient Roman historian Pliny the Elder, she used to taunt him, saying that all his decadent feasts and displays of luxury were nothing compared to the lavishness she could exhibit. To prove her point, Cleopatra bet Marc Antony that she could spend 10,000,000 sesterces for one meal – the equivalent of about $500,000 today! Marc Antony scoffed at the idea, and accepted the bet.

The next day, Cleopatra had a sumptuous meal served to Marc Antony. When he commented that it was nothing more special than his daily fare, she called for the dessert course. Her servants placed a single dish in front of her, filled with vinegar. Cleopatra proceeded to take off one of her pearl earrings – which, supposedly, were the largest pearls in the world at that time – and dropped it into the vinegar. Once it had dissolved, she drank the concoction down…and won the bet.

While we certainly don’t advocate dissolving pearls to drink them today – especially not the gorgeous ones contained in our pearl jewelry – across the globe, it seems that consuming pearl powder is actually a popular trend.

Especially in Asia, pearl powder is sold as a health supplement. Mixed with water, yogurt, or honey, it is said to have anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties, as well as containing high levels of calcium and other minerals. Its most common use, however, is to improve the complexion.

But pearl powder is not only eaten – it’s also used by some hospitals in Asia to sprinkle on wounds to promote healing, and is a popular additive to cosmetics there, as well.

It does make you wonder – if Cleopatra already knew that pearls would dissolve easily in vinegar, and were safe to drink, was she already following a pearl powder beauty regimen? And if so, could that explain why she is still known as the most beautiful woman in all of history? If that’s the case, then maybe this whole pearl powder thing really is worth looking into…

Wondering what Cleopatra did with her now matchless earring? Legend tells us that it was cut in two, and each half was placed on an ear of the statue of the goddess Venus in the Pantheon in Rome.

Well, it’s no surprise to us that pearls add a touch of elegance and luxury to any occasion – even a lavish feast given by an ancient Egyptian queen. Pearls have always been considered the gem of royalty. To adorn yourself in the same way Cleopatra did, check out our collections of gorgeous pearl earrings, luxurious pearl necklaces, and elegant pearl bracelets today!