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5 pearl shapes you have never heard of

5 Pearl Shapes You Have Never Heard Of

The beauty of pearls has fascinated us for millennia. There are seven quality factors that the Gemological Institute of America uses to grade pearls. This article will focus on one many take for granted: pearl shapes. What is the shape of the pearl? Keep reading to uncover the world of pearl shapes.

What Are The Names Of The Shapes Of Pearls?

What are 7 basic pearl shapes? Pearls come in seven basic shapes: 

  • round
  • near round
  • button
  • drop
  • oval
  • semi-baroque
  • baroque

All of which fall into three main categories according to the GIA: spherical, symmetrical, and asymmetrical. 

The culturing process has made round pearls much easier to achieve, and they’re the most recognizable and popular shape. 

What Are Odd Shaped Pearls Called?

However, pearls can assume an almost infinite variety of forms primarily due to the shapes of the nuclei and their positions inside the mollusk. We want to show you some of the not-so-common and desirable shapes of pearls.

Pear-Shaped Pearl

One of the most famous pearls is the pear-shaped Hope pearl. A pear-shaped pearl is formed like a pear terminating to a point and either flat or rounded at the lower end. 

pear-shaped Hope pearl pearl shapes

The Hope pearl’s origins are unique. By 1839, a London banker, Henry Phillip Hope, had a vast collection of gems, one of the most famous being the Hope pearl. 

It was one of the largest known pearls at the time and is described in his published catalog of the Hope collection as an oriental pearl of an irregular pear shape weighing 1800 grains or 450 carats. 

It’s two inches long, four and a half inches at its broadest point, and three and a quarter inches at its narrowest. The smaller end is capped with an arched crown of red enameled gold set with diamonds, rubies, and emeralds.

Where is the Hope pearl now? Well, it’s typically tucked away in a private collection, but in 2005, for the first time in 150 years, it was paired with the Hope diamond in the Smithsonian. Yet another treasure owned by Philip Henry Hope, and you may have heard of it.

Another impressive pearl collection belongs to the Dresden Green Vault. One of the highlights is a merry chef whose body is made from a pear-shaped pearl enclothed in a green and black enameled suit featuring diamond, silver, gold, and iron. 

Another is a sea unicorn whose body is a very large baroque pearl with a tail of gold-colored fish scales. Diamonds and rubies surround it, depicting the ancient Greek myth of Perseus and Pegasus saving Andromeda from a sea monster.

Monster Pearl

Speaking of monsters, have you ever heard of a monster pearl? 

A monster pearl is described as a very large irregular or globular pearly mass resembling an animal or adapted to form the head, trunk, or other parts of an animal. 

One very fine example is housed in the British Museum. Described as a pendant, the sea dragon’s tail in one side of the body is made from a large pearl mass. 

The other side is chased with a cartouche and enameled in blue, green, lavender, and ruby red. The wings are set with pearls, baroque pearls are suspended from the pendant chain and underbelly.


keshie pearls pearl shape
keshie pearl shapes

Another interesting form of pearl is the keshie. Keshie pearls are named after a Japanese term for poppy because that’s what they look like. They’re highly irregular in shape and are a happy accident during the culturing process. 

Once the mollusk was nucleated, farmers found that there were other smaller, flatter, and vivid pearls forming. 

Keshie can come in freshwater. But the saltwater caches are particularly desirable. They form when a mollusk is nucleated with a bead and returned to the water. 

The mollusk spits out or expels the bead, and in the process takes on some other kind of irritant, and a saltwater keshi is formed. They come in many different colors as well. Consider them like snowflakes, and no two are ever alike.

Winged Pearls

A lot of pearl shapes are named after things in nature, like animals, plants, and food. One example is winged pearls. 

winged pearls pearl shapes
winged pearl shapes

They are elongated, resembling a wing or part of a wing. They have been found in the Mississippi Valley, along with dog tooth pearls which, as you can probably guess, look like dog teeth. 

Dog tooth pearls are often combined to make beautiful brooches that look like flowers. The chrysanthemum brooch is a great example.

Pearl Cluster

The last in our pearl shapes list is the pearl cluster. 

A pearl cluster is made up of two or more baroque pearls united in a single nacreous coating, showing, however, that they are still separate pearls. 

Southern Cross pearl pearl shapes

The most famous example is the Southern Cross. It’s an unusual cluster of pearls that consists of nine attached pearls forming a Roman cross about one and a half inches long. Seven of the pearls form in the body, while the arms are formed by one pearl on each side.

According to George Frederick Coons, a self-educated gemologist and mineralogist, the pearl was discovered on March 26, 1883, in Western Australia by a boy named Clark.

Clark delivered the cross to his employer in three distinct pieces but swore the cross was all in one piece when he found it. Apparently, when Clark turned it in, the right arm was absent. 

Ultimately, the new owner paid some 10 or 12 pounds for a replacement pearl, and then, with the aid of diamond cement and a skillful artist, this celebrated gem was transformed into a perfect cross. 

Conclusion On Pearl Shapes

Pearls come in a wide range of shapes, each with its unique appearance and value. While round and traditional shapes are the most popular, there are many lesser-known pearl shapes that can add an unusual and distinctive touch to your different pearl shapes jewelry collection. You can find pearl jewelry at our crystal shop. What is your favorite pearl shape of the lot? Hope this article about lesser-known pearl shapes can enlighten you.

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