Pearl's shape is a factor in determining its quality and price. Pearl experts generally divide pearls into three main categories: Spherical, Symmetrical, and Baroque. However, smaller subcategories are useful in classifying different shapes commonly used in pearl jewelry. Following is a breakdown of the common shapes you'll find in our fine pearl jewelry and in other stores:
Round:This is the shape everyone thinks of when they think of pearls. However, perfectly round natural pearls are quite rare, and so they have the greatest value. The perfection of a round pearl is considered most suited to showing off a pearl's innate beauty. Although other shapes are not as rare and valuable, and many consider them not as beautiful, they can be quite unique when enhanced by creative setting design.
Near Round:This covers pearls that are round, but not perfect spheres. Near round pearls can be slightly flattened or elongated in shape. They are classified along with round pearls in the "Spherical" category.
Oval:Oval pearls have ends that are narrower than the center. They are classified by experts as "Symmetrical."
Drop:Drop pearls are shaped like a teardrop or a pear. They can be short and fat, or elongated. They make beautiful earrings and pendant necklaces, and are categorized, along with oval pearls, as "Symmetrical."
Button:Button pearls have a flattened, disk-like shape. They are often used in stud earrings, where the flattest side of the disk can be attached to the setting.
Baroque:Baroque pearls are the oddballs—they come in endless irregular shapes that don't fit in the other categories. They are considered the least valuable of all the pearl shapes. However, they can be highly lustrous and quite beautiful, especially when placed in a creative setting that enhances the unique shape. They are commonly found in more affordable pearl jewelry.
Tips for judging pearl shape
When judging pearls for shapes, take into account the type of pearl you are looking at. For example, expensive natural pearls are typically baroque, whereas cheap cultured pearls with thin nacre (pearl coating) are generally round. That's because natural pearls don't contain a round nucleus bead, and cultured pearl beads that are hardly coated with nacre don't have much of a chance to grow irregular. The typical shapes of five pearl types are described below to help you learn what degree of roundness to expect of pearls. They are listed from the most commonly round to the most commonly baroque.
Akoya pearls with thin nacre often round.
Akoya pearls with thick nacre frequently off-round, but round ones are available too. Baroque Akoya pearl strands are considered low quality.
South Sea cultured pearls are rarely perfectly round. As mentioned in surface quality. The larger the pearl grows to be, the more it will tend to deviate from round. Baroques are often regarded as a good alternative to the more expensive symmetrical shapes.
Natural saltwater pearl is usually baroque or semi-baroque. Round ones are extremely rare
Freshwater pearls, both cultured and natural are frequently baroque, especially if they are natural (reasons see nacre). Baroque freshwater pearls are considered desirable. Cultured off-round freshwater pearls are also readily available. They are normally much more affordable than saltwater pearls of similar quality and size.