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Common Pearl Shapes



The shapes of pearls are varied and because they are organic gems they have many interesting shapes. It is said that no two pearl necklaces are the same. This reason is partially due to fact that the shape of each individual pearl is slightly different just like a snowflake.

Under normal circumstances the pearl is created and resembles the irritant used to nucleate the oyster/mollusk. So presuming the irritant is visually round then there is a good chance the finished product will in turn be visibly round. There are however other influences which include the position where the pearl develops in the shell. This resulting position can cause distortions in the creation of the pearl.

There are three described shapes which experts use in terms of categorizing Pearls:

Spherical: This is a description for round or nearly round in shape. This is the most popular shape on the market today. Akoya pearls are usually round because of the round nucleus. Freshwater Orient are round because they are selected from among so many for their shape. Tahitian pearls and South Sea pearls may be round or baroque, but the round are more valuable.

Symmetrical: Is the mirror image shape where each half is identical to the other half.

Baroque: These are not Symmetrical but are irregular and unique in shape. Many beautiful baroque pearls with incredible colors are found in the Tahitian pearls. It is truly an abstract form from Mother Nature and a unique treasure. No two are identical.

Baroque pearls tend to have thick nacre and often have high luster and displays of orient. Often times Baroque pearls are described by the terms ringed or circled. These are shapes as described and are perfectly natural. These can be used as adjectives in describing these incredibly unique natural gems.

The lustrous beauty of Baroque pearls has become very popular in recent years, and many enjoy having a necklace that no one else will ever have.


There are a number of other descriptions used to describe the shape of pearls:

Visually Round: These are the AAA quality pearls in the greatest demand and are the rarest. The shape is considered spherical.

Near-round: These are AA+ quality pearl and are also spherical however not perfectly. They are very slightly off round and sometimes can pass as round to the untrained eye. They may be slightly flat or oblong on certain small parts of the pearl.

Drop: This is also a symmetrical AAA quality shape and as the name describes it appears like a drop of water or a pear. Depending on its size, the pearl can be short and stumpy or long and elongated.

Button: This AA+ quality Pearl is also a symmetrical shape and is flat on one or more ends. This is where it gets its name. Buttons are popular for pearl earrings as the flat size is hidden on the backside of the post.

Oval: This AAA quality Pearl is a symmetrical shape and is narrow at two ends with a wide center.

Semi-baroque: This unrated baroque shape has quite unique characteristics in that even though is may look like drop, button or oval, it is not symmetrical due to it unusually skewed appearance.

Although the lustrous beauty of Baroque pearls has become very popular, the majority of consumers continue to desire the Spherical or Symetrical shape. The shapes of pearls have a major influence on the overall value and the grading of the pearls, which is the reason that pearl jewelry should be described in such complete detail. Be wary of any retailer not providing complete detailed descriptions of their Cultured Pearl Gems.





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