Pearls have always been cherished for their beauty and elegance. A pearl's shape is one of the key factors that determine its value. Here is a guide to the most popular pearl shapes to help you choose the perfect one for you.
What are pearls?
Pearls are organic gems formed inside oysters and other mollusks. They are composed of calcium carbonate in the form of aragonite or calcite, which is secreted by the mollusk as a defense against irritants.
The type of pearl you will find inside an oyster depends on the species of mollusk. The most common types of pearls are salt water pearls (Akoya, Tahitian, South Sea) and freshwater pearls. Read our article on freshwater vs saltwater pearls to lear more
Also, there are 2 types of pearls based on their origin: natural and cultivated pearls. The difference here is very subtle, check out this article to know the details.
How pearls are formed?
Natural pearls are formed when an irritant (usually a piece of sand) enters the oyster and the oyster secretes a nacre around the irritant to protect itself. Cultivated pearls are created when farmers insert a nucleus made of mother-of-pearl into the oyster, which then secretes nacre around it.
The type of nacre (calcium carbonate) used to form the pearl, as well as the amount of time the pearl is left to grow, will determine the final shape of the pearl. For example, pearls that are grown for a longer period of time tend to be more spherical, while pearls that are grown for a shorter period of time tend to be more irregular in shape.
Pearls that are grown for a longer period of time tend to be more spherical, while pearls that are grown for a shorter period of time tend to be more irregular in shape.
How pearls are graded?
The shapes of pearls are not the only factor that determines their value. Pearls are also graded on the following factors:
- Size: The bigger the pearl, the more valuable it is.
- Colour: The rarer the colour, the more valuable the pearl is. Black pearls are the most valuable, followed by white pearls.
- Surface quality: pearls with few blemishes are more valuable than pearls with many blemishes.
- Lustre: pearls with a high lustre are more valuable than pearls with a low lustre.
- Nacre thickness: pearls with a thick nacre are more valuable than pearls with a thin nacre.
Now that you know all about pearls, it's time to explore the pearl shapes!
What shapes do pearls come in?
Pearls can come in a wide variety of shapes, from the classic round pearl to more irregular baroque pearls.
Round pearls are the most classic and sought-after shape. They are perfectly symmetrical and have a very high lustre. Akoya pearls are the most common type of round pearls.
Baroque pearls are pearls with an irregular shape. They can be oval, pear-shaped, drop-shaped or any other asymmetrical shape. Baroque pearls are less expensive than round pearls and are often used in creative pearl jewellery designs.
Semi-round pearls are pearls that are not perfectly round, but are more rounded than baroque pearls. Semi-round pearls have a good lustre and are more affordable than round pearls.
Button pearls are small, flat pearls with a smooth surface. They are often used in strand pearls necklaces and bracelets.
Keshi pearls are a type of freshwater pearl that is completely spherical with a very high lustre. They are very rare and therefore, very valuable.
Coin pearls are flat, disk-shaped pearls with a smooth surface. They are named after their shape, which resembles a coin. Coin pearls are often used in Pearl strands and bracelets.
What determined pearl shape?
The pearl shape is determined by the shape of the oyster's or mollusk's shell.
Round pearls are formed in round oysters, such as the Akoya oyster. The oyster's shell has a round shape, which results in a round pearl.
Baroque pearls are formed in irregularly-shaped oysters, such as the Tahitian black-lipped pearl oyster. The oyster's shell has an irregular shape, which results in an irregular pearl.
Button pearls are formed in flat oysters, such as the freshwater mussel. The oyster's shell has a flat shape, which results in a flat pearl.
Coin pearls are formed in oysters with a thin, flat shell. The oyster's shell has a thin, flat shape, which results in a thin, flat pearl.
What forms can be baroque pearls?
Baroque pearls can be any irregular shape, including oval, pear-shaped, drop-shaped or any other asymmetrical shape.
How to choose the perfect pearl shape for you?
The best way to choose the perfect pearl shape for you is to figure out what style of jewellery you want to create. If you want a classic look, then round pearls are the way to go. If you're looking for something more creative and unique, then baroque pearls are a great choice. And if you want something in between, then semi-round or button pearls are a good option.
How to style different types of pearls shape?
Round pearls are the most versatile and can be styled in many different ways. They can be worn as stud earrings, pendants, necklaces, bracelets or even rings.
Baroque pearls are best suited for creative jewellery designs. They can be used as accent pearls in necklaces, bracelets and earrings. They can also be strung together to create unique pearl strands.
Button pearls are best suited for stranded pearls designs. They can be used to create pearl necklaces, bracelets and earrings.
Coin pearls are best suited for stranded pearls designs. They can be used to create pearl necklaces, bracelets and earrings.
Keshi pearls are best suited for solitaire pearl designs. They can be worn as stud earrings, pendants or rings.
Read our pearl styling guide here!
With so many different types and shapes of pearls, there's sure to be the perfect type of pearl for you!
Whatever shape you choose, make sure the pearls have a good lustre and are well-matched in size and colour. And most importantly, have fun!
We hope you enjoyed this guide to pearl shapes. For more pearls tips and information, check out our other articles here