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The Wide World of Pearls, Our 53rd Issue: How Do Pearls Get Their Shape?


Pearl Quote of the Week: "All art is autobiographical; the pearl is the oyster’s autobiography." -  Frederico Fellini


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How Pearls Get Their Shapes


How Do Pearls Get Their Shape?

Ever wonder how pearls grow inside an oyster and come out of their shell perfectly round?

Do they do that all the time? Are all pearls round? No, they sure aren't!

Turns out the most popular, iconic and timeless pearl shape of all time (round) is also the most RARE. Which also makes them the most valuable (and expensive!).

There are a myriad of other pearl shapes out there to choose from including:

  • Near-Round
  • Off-Round
  • Button-Shaped
  • Drop-Shaped
  • Baroque
  • Circled Baroque
  • Free-Form Baroque

So how do oysters create ALL this variety??

Pearl producing mollusks are usually nucleated with perfectly round mother-of-pearl bead nuclei - this is to help the mollusk create a round pearl. The nucleus is inserted into the mollusk, which proceeds to envelop the irritation in a pearl sac.

The pearl sac will take the same shape as the bead nuclei (i.e. round), but variations and irregularities often occur inside during pearl formation.


Drop-Shaped Pearls are Very Popular

These gorgeous smooth Drop-Shaped Freshwater pearls are the 2nd most popular pearl shape out there today. The Drop pearl can be varying degrees of tear-drop, oval and barrel shaped. They're known for being a very romantic shape. 


As the mollusk begins to coat the nuclei with nacre, the muscles of the mollusk's soft body gently contract and release, which causes the forming pearl to begin rolling inside the pearl sac. This rolling rotation is by no means perfectly consistent in one direction; instead, as the muscles do their work the pearl is continuously turned in many different directions as it forms. 

Interruptions in this formation process causes variations in the pearl's nacre. 

Irritants, sudden changes in temperature and environment, even a parasite infection … this and more can be the reason why a pearl’s formation is disrupted.

Any slight imperfection in the nacre layers then gets “stacked” on top of with successive microns-thin layers of nacre, creating bumps, ridges, knobs and finally, influencing the pearl's final shape.

Learn more about Pearl Shapes


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Featured Pearls

 Weekly Featured Product: Pink Freshwater Pearl and Diamond Pendant


Pink Freshwater Pearl Dangling Diamond Pendant

This exquisite 14K gold pearl pendant features a beautiful 8mm Gem quality pink Freshwater cultured pearl with very high luster.

The pendant also features 0.19 carats of SI clarity diamonds. 

  •  Comes with a complimentary matching chain
  • Includes Certificate of Authenticity


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