Different Types of Pearls and Their Shapes

Different Types of Pearls and Their Shapes

The classic white pearl necklace is the most popular type of pearl jewelry in the world. But that's not all there is to these precious gemstones.

Pearls come in an array of colors, shapes, and sizes, meaning there is a pearl out there meant for you based on your preferences. How cool is that? 

Below, you will discover almost every type of pearl in the world. So if you want to know what kind of pearl necklace, earrings, or bracelet to treat yourself, you are in the right place!

Basic Information About Pearls

Natural vs. Cultured Pearls 

Firstly, what is the difference between Natural vs. Cultured Pearls?

Natural Pearls occur in pearl-bearing oysters without human interference. Have you ever dreamed of finding an oyster washed up on the beach shore and finding a pretty pearl inside? That's precisely what we mean by natural pearls. 

However, Cultured Pearls are grown in oysters artificially by a human inserting an irritant and then placing them back in the water. The oyster's "living condition" is then monitored to ensure they are optimal for pearl formation. 

A lot of people, however, mistakenly think cultured pearls are not genuine. To clarify, both natural and cultured pearls are 100% genuine pearls. The only difference is cultured pearls need a little help from some humans. An oyster with no human help has a 1 in 10,000 chance of growing a pearl.  

While we are clarifying things, let's discuss the difference between fresh and saltwater pearls.  

Freshwater vs. Saltwater Pearls 

There are a few differences between Freshwater Pearls and Saltwater Pearls, such as where they are found, their colors, durability of the pearl, shapes, sizes, and price.  

A primary difference between Freshwater Pearls and Saltwater Pearls is their location. Freshwater Pearls come from oysters found in freshwater bodies of water, compared to saltwater pearls that are, well, found in saltwater oysters. 

But are there differences between the pearls themselves? Yes, there are! 

Freshwater pearls come in soft hues like white, cream, purple, pink, and peach. 

Saltwater pearls are the right choice if you're looking for bolder colors! They come in exotic colors such as green, blue, peacock, and deep black. However, Freshwater pearls have a much wider variety of colors. This is because freshwater pearls are commonly dyed in various colors, but these colors are not natural. Saltwater pearls are not commonly dyed because they are a more rare type of pearl. 

Additionally, Freshwater pearls are less durable, more commonly available, and relatively inexpensive than saltwater pearls. As a reminder, Saltwater pearls are more expensive since they are more of a rare pearl to find and more difficult to cultivate. 

Different Types of Pearls and Their Shapes

Pearl Types

There are five main types of pearls: Akoya, Tahitian, Freshwater, South Sea, and Sea of Cortez pearls. Let's dive into their details now!

  • Akoya Pearls are some of the Saltwater Pearls we talked about above. They are minimalistic-looking gemstones most popular amongst jewelry enthusiasts. If you've been dreaming of buying or researching a classic white pearl necklace, you probably have been seeing Akoya pearls.
  • Tahitian Pearls are on the opposite end of the spectrum. They're available in exotic deep blue, green, grey, and black shades. Bold in colors, Tahitian pearl jewelry is a statement piece. 
  • Freshwater Pearls Naturally Colored are perfect for those who like a little color in their pearls. Famous for their soft pink, peach, and lavender hues, they might be your perfect pearl. 
  • South Sea Pearls come in two variations; Golden and White. They're rare, and you've probably seen the big pearls in a necklace. Their high value makes them expensive too. 
  • Sea of Cortez Pearls are vibrant Mexican pearls that come in exotic shades of mauve, peacock, violet, green and more! They come from the famous rainbow-lipped saltwater oysters. Their retail value is high, so do your research beforehand if these pearls are indeed what you’re looking for. 

If you're still reading this, congrats! You’re one step closer to owning the perfect pair of pearls.

Pearl Shapes

It might be surprising to discover that not all pearls are perfectly round or round at all. In fact, that's the rarest of all shapes. Pearls, too, have their fair share of imperfections. 

Pearls come in five main shapes: perfectly round, semi-round, button, baroque, and circle baroque. 

  • Perfectly Round Pearls are rare and, therefore, the most valuable of all shapes. Fun fact: a pearl is considered perfectly round if it can roll smoothly in all directions. They're often found in Akoya pearls. 
  • Semi-Round Pearls may seem 100% round to the untrained eye, but they have imperfections. For those of you who are on a budget but want that classy white pearl, this shape might be your perfect match.
  • Button Shape Pearls are commonly found in Freshwater pearls. Their surfaces are flattened or slightly 'squished,' making them an ideal choice for pearl earrings. So, pay attention to the button pearl's surface if you're purchasing pearl earrings!
  • Baroque Pearls represent about 40% of the pearls in the world. These pearls are irregular in shape but relatively high in lustre. So they're sure to grab everyone's attention! This shape can be found in stunning black Tahitian pearls.
  • Circled Baroque Pearls get their name from the circles that run up and down the surface of the pearl. First introduced by Tiffany's & Co. in the 70s, it's been dubbed 'Circles of Love.' 

Parting Thoughts

No two pearls are the same; each comes with its unique characteristics. We hope this article will help you make an informed decision. 

Want to explore the different types of pearls? Check out DezLin's extensive range of pearls, which includes Akoya pearlsFreshwater Pearls, Edison's 9MM+ Pearls, and more!

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