For a perfume marketed towards 16 year old females1, White Diamonds doesn’t really smell like a 16 year old girl.
In my opinion, a teenage girl has many phases, and her perfume wardrobe needs to reflect this. Her options should include at a minimum something deliciously sweet (Pink Sugar with its scrumptious brownie note), something fresh (Light Blue’s airy, lemony saltwater spray), and something absolutely irresistible yet innocent – like the sadly-discontinued Amethyst from Floris London with its aromatic funfair of lemonade, strawberry and romantic jasmine.
And yet, White Diamonds from Elizabeth Taylor doesn’t fit into any of those categories, or anywhere in-between them, despite being marketed to this delicate group. Instead this 1991 celebrity scent broke away from the pack entirely, moving dangerously close to the inhospitable cliffs of Grandmotherly Perfumes, and yet somehow ended up in the Fragrance Hall of Fame in 20092. Don’t ask me how, because I don’t know.
Fiercely floral, White Diamonds became popular over its decades on store shelves, and still appears in many gift sets around the holidays. Heck, I’ve even seen it at Target as a Christmas tree ornament, which is a far cry from its introductory price of $200/ounce3! It was Liz’s third fragrance, but not quite her last. Just last year, three after the actress’s death in 2011, parent company Elizabeth Arden introduced the latest flanker, a fresher version of the original named White Diamonds Lustre4.
So what makes this seemingly unappealing perfume so popular? That’s what I set out to discover in this review. I received a bottle of the scent last year and have been too intimidated to wear it, but for the sake of giving it a chance I bit the bullet and sprayed it.
Heavens, it wasn’t good, and I was left scratching my head in wonder.
Despite a gorgeous bottle – or rather, cap – the scent inside is simply too much. Maybe it’s because I’m a teenage boy and not the targeted audience, or perhaps it has to do with my taste in general, but I couldn’t get past the soapy, powdery, heavy florals that make up this ferocious beast. It smelled sweaty, like an unwashed body in a bed of flowers – and it’s not as romantic as it sounds.
The bottle in my possession is a modest 15mL, but as anybody who has tried White Diamonds will know, that’s more than enough. Even one spray of the eau de toilette is long-lasting and projects like nobody’s business. The golden cap with its silver jewels comes off to reveal a glass bottle that appears naked and awkward. The box seems fitting for a budget piece, not a luxury such as this.
As for the smell… God, I just couldn’t get past it. There’s something to be said about scents that are classic: not all of them are great. White Diamonds’ top notes explode in clouds of nose-burning, over the top jasmine and orange that calls to mind Clinique’s Aromatics Elixir or any other old-woman perfume you’ve tried. It is also soapy to the point that I want to spray it on my hands and lather up – heaven knows the germs would die. It is, however, not awful – there’s nothing particularly disgusting about it – but not a single person I’ve asked could tolerate this perfume.
In its heart and dry down you will find that White Diamonds is a mix of sandalwood and nail varnish. This accord is synthetic and reeks of chemicals that can’t be good for you.
Verdict: I think that if you are curious about White Diamonds you will not have trouble finding a cheap bottle of it (as little as $4 on eBay5), but I wouldn’t waste my time on it. Unbearably dated, White Diamonds has nothing going for it besides a pretty bottle cap. If you’re having trouble seeing for whom such a perfume would be appropriate, imagine your second grade teacher with her hair teased, too much red lipstick and bright eye shadow. That’s the proper audience for this perfume, not 16 year olds. A modern woman should look elsewhere for her signature perfume. As for me, I shall give it credit for being a long-lasting survivor from a different era; an era of high heels, brown suits, and pearls that have dulled with age.