When we think of pearls, the image that instantly comes to mind are gleaming white, perfectly spherical gem. Challenging this very idea is the exquisite imperfection of the baroque pearl. While every pearl is unique, the organic shape of baroque pearls makes them especially unique, because each one is distinctive and special in its own way.
CEO of Pearls of Joy and pearl expert, Kevin Canning when talking about baroque pearls described them as “every single pearl being unique, like a snowflake.” Baroque pearls, with their irregular shapes, shining luster and dazzling colors, are not only fascinating, they are also the definition of flair!
Freshwater Baroque Pearl Necklace, Pearls of Joy
Baroque pearls are not a different type of pearl. They refer to the pearl shape rather than its variety. Included under the baroque category are all pearls that are not classically and symmetrically spherical. Therefore, baroque pearls can be found amongst Akoya, South Sea, Tahitian and Freshwater pearls.
The word baroque comes from the Portuguese “barroco,” which translates to “oddly shaped pearl.” The word was used by Portuguese pearl merchants who sourced natural pearls from different parts of the world and then exported them to the rest of Europe, during the 16th and 17th centuries.
Natural pearls, by and large, are baroque or irregular in shape. Finding a perfectly symmetrical natural pearl was akin to finding a needle on a haystack. However, the advent of bead-nucleated cultured pearls in the late 19th century, and especially Mikimoto’s search for the flawless round pearl, pushed the baroque gems to the sidelines. Only during the last thirty years has interest in baroque pearls re-emerged, with jewelry designers and pearl lovers both turning to these highly distinctive and very beautiful pearls.
Intensely vivid colours and overtones on baroque Tahitian pearls, Pearls of Joy
Apart from their unusual and individual shapes, baroque pearls are particularly loved for their luster and overtones. But the nature of both these characteristics in baroque pearls differs slightly from their perfectly spherical siblings. The natural curves and ridges of baroque pearls provide multiple different planes and angles at which light refracts from their nacreous surface, which in turn increases the amount of light reflecting back to the viewer. As a result, baroque pearls appear glossy, radiant and very lustrous.
The organic shape of baroque pearls and their interaction with light also creates stunning, multicolored overtones on these pearls. This phenomenon can be compared to the way light reflects off the different facets of a brilliant-cut diamond, shimmering and breaking into bright shards of color. Baroque Tahitian pearls, especially circlé, are valued for their deep and rich overtone colors including green, gold, pink, blue, aubergine and the much-coveted peacock. Baroque Akoya pearls also exhibit an array of natural overtone colors ranging from pink, blue and even gold.
Freshwater Pearl Necklace, Pearls of Joy
There is absolutely no doubt: baroque pearls are more affordable than symmetrical ones. This is because while round cultured pearls make up between 5 -10 % of any given pearl harvest of saltwater pearls, baroque pearls may account for almost half of it. The rarity factor makes round pearls always more precious and expensive, but baroque pearls perhaps better value for your money.
Nevertheless, jewellery set with baroque pearls has seen a tremendous increase is popularity. Baroque pearls sit at an important intersection of style and uniqueness. This is because the distinctively organic shape of these pearls sparks creative inspiration in breathtaking ways, making these pearls a firm favorite of jewelry designers and lovers alike. In addition they break the mold of the traditional look of pearls: white, round and graduated. With baroque pearls, unexpected is the norm. It is for this reason that today they are seen as pearls for the modern woman.
Featured Image: White Freshwater Pearl Necklace, Pearls of Joy
Reema Farooqui is a content writer who loves pearls and pearl jewelry. You can find her on her website The Culture of Pearls or on Instagram at @thecultureofpearls