Pearl Shape

Different Shapes of Pearls

What is the Best Pearl Shape?

There is no shape that is better than another. The best pearl shape is the one that suits you and your style. However, round pearls are the most valuable because of their rarity. What is the first form that comes to mind when we talk about pearls? While most of us think of the classic round pearl, there are actually other shapes to choose from. Pearls come in a wide variety of colours, and the same goes for shapes. Because of this, there is always something for everyone!

Pearl Types and Their Shapes

near round to round pearl necklaces in black in white photo filter

Akoya Pearls

  • Depending on the thickness of the nacre, most Akoya pearls are round to near round.
  • Baroque shaped strands with thin nacre are considered low quality Akoya.

South Sea and Tahitian Pearls

  • Rarely in perfect spherical shape. The larger the pearl gets, the more likely it is becomes off-round shape.
  • Semi-baroque shapes such as ovals, drops and buttons.
  • Baroque or freeform pearls, unique and the most affordable.

Freshwater Pearls

  • Mostly in baroque shapes like rice, petal and potato shapes.
  • Nowadays there are also bead-nucleated pearls in near round shape, which are much cheaper than saltwater pearls of similar size and quality.

Types of Pearl Shapes

Round Pearls

All farms hope to grow more round pearls by using round bead nucleus. But most of the time only 5-10% of the harvest can be qualified as round shapes. Regardless of the high price, this spherical pearl is in high demand, especially among pearl experts.


Spherical pearls with a variation of less than 2% in diameter fall into the "round" category. They roll in a straight line on a flat surface. This is the most expensive shape, provided it has an adequate coating of nacre.

Off-Round Pearls

Pearls that are not round, but look spherical to the eye, are called off-round or near-round pearls. Since this shape is closest to round, its value is higher than the rest of the shapes and lower than the rounds.

Unlike round pearls, off-round pearls deviate more than slightly when rolled on a flat surface. These pearls look round especially when they are set in jewellery or assembled into a necklace. Therefore, they are popular among pearl lovers because they are cheaper compared to round pearls.


Semi-Baroque Pearls

Shapes that are obviously not round or slightly irregular are called semi-baroque. These include oval, drop, and button-shaped pearls.


Oval Shape

Oval has an elongated or oblong round body, sometimes in symmetrical form, which is quite rare. This pearl shape looks great in a variety of jewellery settings, such as pendants, earrings, or simply as a necklace.

Drop Shape

Drops are usually refer to teardrop or pear-shaped pearls. They are rounded at one end and pointed at the other. Teardrop has an elongated body, while pear has a "fatter" body. The smoother and more pleasing the shape of a drop is, the higher its value.


Button Shape

The button-shaped pearl has one flat side and a rounded one on the other, with a width greater than the height. Width sizes beyond 15mm are commonly used for making earrings, as they look big but are lighter than the large round pearl. Some button pearls look "plumper", which are usually made into a necklace.

Circled Pearls

Pearls with one or more ring-like grooves around the body fall into this category. These circles are usually formed on off-round, semi-baroque and baroque shapes. They are more commonly seen in South Sea, Tahitian, and freshwater pearls.

Nowadays, circled pearls are very popular among pearl lovers because of their circular grooves and affordability. Whether they are used in a pair of dangling earrings or made into a simple necklace, they will definitely add a touch of uniqueness to the design.


Baroque Pearls

Baroque pearls are completely irregular in shape, also known as freeform. They are just as affordable as the circled pearls, and often make a more interesting jewellery design than round pearls do. Therefore, these freeform pearls are very popular with jewellery designers.


Saltwater Baroque

South Sea and Tahitian Pearls in freeform are more valuable than freshwater pearls because of their rarity. Usually, these saltwater baroque pearls are sold undrilled unless they are intended for necklace making. They can be drilled after the new owner decides on the design.

Freshwater Baroque

The majority of freshwater cultured pearls are tissue-nucleated, so most pearls are in small or large semi-baroque and baroque shapes. Few popular shapes are petals, potato and rice pearls. However, some are nucleated with flat disc or large round beads to culture coin shapes and fireball.


Learn More About Pearls

Hope that this information has been helpful to you and has broadened your understanding of the different forms of pearls. If you'd like to learn more about pearls, visit our pages on pearl colours and types. There is so much more to discover about these beautiful gems!

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