Miss America aficionados: The day you've been waiting for is finally upon us. September 13 marks the glitzy, glorious night of the Miss America 2016 pageant. But before we find out who gets the crowning glory, it's time we cleared up an infamous Miss America crown-based myth: Is the Miss America crown real diamonds?
Over the years, addicts and adversaries of the coveted beauty pageant have coined many crown-based conspiracy theories. The opulent headgear itself has gone through many style alterations as well, from a Statue of Liberty–resembling crest that crowned the very first Miss America, Margaret Gorman, in 1921 to the luxurious regalia of the 1930s model to the glittering four-pointed model that many of us recognize today.
Along with their beauty tips and workout techniques, inquiries about the crown's authenticity are the questions most often referenced by Miss America's champions. Perhaps part of the reason the crown is shrouded in so much mystery is because past beauty queens have offered different explanations. Heather Whitestone, Miss America 1995, said that "although these aren't real diamonds, it's very expensive," as reported by the Herald Journal. Miss Louisiana 2014 Lacey Sanchez, however, told The Acadiana Advocate, "Kids are brutally honest... I usually get, 'Is your crown made of real diamonds?' I say, of course, 'Yes, it is.'"
Well, funnily enough, the answer isn't actually yes or no: It's both. The original Miss America crown is beautiful, diamond-encrusted, and would allegedly set you back around $200,000. Unsurprisingly, due to its worth equating to a small suburban house, the original crown isn't what you see on the heads of beauty queens during their state rounds. Instead the real crown is kept under serious lock and key, is heavily guarded, and rarely leaves the confines of the safe except for national television broadcasts.
Instead, the crowns carted around from day to day are simply some very good replicas. According to David Talarico, Vice President of William Schoppy Inc. (an organization involved in the making of the Miss America crown in earlier years), the replica would glitter and sparkle like its authentic doppelgänger, but would instead be constructed of cast white metal, plated with sterling silver, and decorated with rhinestones. This is what you see on the head of the crowned beauty queen these days.
Fancy a slice of the diamond-spangled pie yourself? Unfortunately, even getting your hands on a former beauty queen's replica crown could work out decidedly pricey. Former Miss America Heather Whitestone valued her replica crown as costing around $1,000 back in 1995.
That being said, The Best Crowns has been manufacturing Miss America crowns since 1921, and on-site prices range from $25 to $425. Presumably, the Miss America organizers invest in custom pieces, but at these prices, I have to ask pageant lovers: What are you waiting for, your highness?