As stated by GIA, the seven standard pearl shapes that are recognized worldwide by pearl professionals are as follows:
• Round – Appears round to the eye.
• Near-round – Appears almost round to the eye. Some might be slightly out-of-round, elongated, or flattened.
• Oval – Symmetrical, rounded oblong shape.
• Button – Symmetrical, flattened or slightly flattened circular shape. Can be a high-domed or low-domed button.
• Drop – Symmetrical, rounded pearl shape. Can be a long or short drop.
• Semi-baroque – Non-symmetrical, off-round, slightly irregular oval, button, or drop.
• Baroque – Non-symmetrical shape with a noticeably irregular appearance.
For any shape other than the seven above-mentioned standard shapes, the shape may actually be just described as it appears (i.e. cross, coin, bar shaped, etc).
The shapes described here also can be considered to be of three major categories (spherical, symmetrical, and baroque). Round and near-round pearls represent spherical pearls whereas those pearls that look the same on each half of the pearl characterize the symmetrical pearls. The baroque category would encompass the irregular shapes – baroque or semi-baroque. Pearls that have one or more grooved or ridged rings around the surface are described as “circled” pearls – which can be a descriptor for circled near-round or circled drop pearls.
A pearl that is nicely shaped or symmetrical will be more valuable compared to one that is of irregular shape. In general, round is the most valuable pearl shape. Round pearls are the most rare and difficult to find. Coupled with the power of tradition and continued strong consumer demand over time contribute to the popularity and higher price of round pearls. Jewelers and pearl suppliers may spend several years to assemble a finely matched strand of pearls.
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