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5 Pearl Bead Shapes and What They Say About You - The Bead Traders

5 Pearl Bead Shapes and What They Say About You

When you think about pearls, a strand of perfectly round, white gemstones is likely the first thing that comes to mind. While the spherical variety may be the most sought after and valuable option, pearls form in a wide range of different shapes. And many people prefer shapes other than round because they are more unique and make it possible to create or wear jewelry pieces that are truly one-of-a-kind. In addition, round pearls tend to be the most expensive, so choosing ones in other shapes often enable one to enjoy the beauty of pearls without breaking the bank.

If you are interested in learning more about different pearl bead shapes, you’ve come to the right place. Keep reading to discover the many shapes in which pearls can form.


Round pearls are the most popular option. They are also the rarest and most expensive. Despite what you may have been led to believe, most pearls do not form in a perfectly spherical shape. Instead, they tend to be more irregular. Large round pearls are especially rare because the longer a pearl is left to form, the more likely it is to take on an irregular shape. Large pearls are highly prized and fetch incredibly high prices. If you are drawn only to perfectly round stones, you are someone who enjoys classic beauty and timeless elegance.


Also known as off round, semi-round pearls are almost perfectly spherical, but not quite. To the untrained eye, they may appear completely round. However, they have slight irregularities that make them less valuable than truly round ones.


Oval pearls–also known as pear or rice pearls–often occur as the result of two pearls forming inside the same mollusk joining together. These gems are rounded on both ends but have elongated middles due to the two pearls that connect to form them.


Unlike most other types of pearls, coin pearls are relatively flat. They have a roughly circular shape and are relatively flat on both sides. Flat pearl coins are unique and work well for making things like pendants. They come in a rainbow of colors and they tend to be rather affordable.

baroque pearls close-up


Baroque pearls are those that are irregular in shape. Many freshwater and saltwater pearls are classified as baroque because they are asymmetrical. Though they do not carry as much value as round or more symmetrical stones, plenty of people love them because of their one-of-a-kind nature. Their affordability is a huge perk, too, for anyone who loves pearls but doesn’t want to spend a fortune on perfectly spherical stones.

How Pearls Form Their Shape

Various freshwater pearl shapes occur largely as a result of the type of irritant used during the culturing process. Cultured pearls are made by placing an irritant inside a mollusk. The irritant becomes the nucleus of the pearl and gets coated by layers of a substance known as nacre.

Cultured round pearls are made by a spherical bead as the irritant. To form other shapes, mantle tissue is commonly used instead of a round bead. This results in irregularly shaped pearls instead of perfectly round ones.

Making Jewelry with Various Shapes of Pearls

Various pearl shapes can be used to create all sorts of jewelry styles. Round and semi-round stones, for example, are perfect for capturing the timeless elegance of a pearl necklace. Baroque and other irregularly shaped pearls are beautiful in more modern pieces. Oval-shaped pearls are perfect for making earrings and coin pearls make beautiful bracelets and pendants.

pearl farming vietnam


Round pearls may be the most recognizable option, but these unique stones form in all sorts of different shapes. Whether you are trying to save a bit of money or you prefer one-of-a-kind pearls, choosing a shape other than round could be the perfect option.

Keep in mind, too, that pearls are lovely when paired with other semi-precious gemstones. Consider pairing pearls with black onyx or crystal quartz. Feel free to get creative and see which stones look best together.

At The Bead Traders, we have the pearl beads you need for your next jewelry-making project. Our collection includes several shapes, sizes and colors so you shouldn’t have any trouble finding something that’s perfect for your next design. Check out our assortment of freshwater pearl beads today!

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