Pearl Shapes

How the shape of the Pearl Affects its value

Pearls naturally come in various shapes.  The most valuable shape of a pearl is a perfectly round sphere.  Other shapes include near-round, oval, drop or “tear drop”, baroque, button, semi-baroque and circled. Generally, the more symetrical the shape, the more valuable the pearl.  After round pearls, semi-round and then oval are most valuable.  The more free form irregular “baroque” pearls are the least valuable and most common shape of the pearl.

Baroque Pearls: Baroque pearls are the most common and, all other factors being equal, are the least expensive. However, creative jewelers can often design impressive peices with baroque pearls as their centerpeice. Mabe Pearls: Mabe pearls are usually more difficult to cultivate than baroque pearls, but easier than drops or spheres.  Mabe pearls are usually made into earrings or rings with the flat back part (visible here) cut away. Drop Pearls: Drops: A finely shaped drop pearl like this one can be very valuable.  They are used in earrings and pendants.  Generally, though demand and price are greater for rounds and near rounds. Round Pearls:  Round: This is usually the most coveted and valuable shape of pearl.  The closer to perfectly spherical, the more valuable it is.

Mabe: Mabe pearls are cultured pearls that are grown on the inside of the oyster’s shell rahter than in the tissue of the oyster like most cultured pearls.  This gives them an exceptional luster, but requires that they be cut off the shell in order to be harvested.  Once cut, they are “finished” by adding a backing.  Because of the way they are grown, they naturally have a flat side.  Therefore, they are more commonly used in rings and earrings (or other jewelry in which they are “set”) versus made into beads and strung on a necklace or bracelet.  Mabe pearls are generally less valuable than other types of cultured pearls because they are not round.

Keshi: Keshi pearls are the smallest saltwater cultured pearls.  They usually occur as accidents during the process of culturing and are valuable despite their small size if their color and luster are strong and beautiful.