Pearly Whirly Pearl Fact – Are All Pearls Round?

Did you know…that pearls come in funny shapes?

Shape Categories

They sure do! Here at the shop, we have cases full of crazy looking pearls.

There are Biwa pearls that are cross or ‘X’ shaped. Originally farmed in Lake Biwa, Japan (hence the name), these awesome pearls are now found all over.

Chocolate Freshwater Biwa Pearl Cross Pendant


Keishi pearls happen when the pearl rejects the nucleus during the culturing process. Keishi pearls are cool because they are as close as a cultured pearl can get to a natural pearl, since they no longer have any evidence that they were created by man. They are often called by their nickname, “potato chip pearls” because they end up being mostly flat. But don’t let that unappealing name fool you – the flat surface reflects lights amazingly well, creating even more luster than traditional round pearls.

Freshwater Keishi Pearl Bracelet with Mabé Clasp
This double strand keishi pearl bracelet with a mabe pearl clasp showcases just how beautiful irregularly shaped pearls can be.

You can also find stick pearls and coin pearls, which look exactly as they sound. Rice pearls are small and oval in shape (like a grain of rice). Seed pearls are amazing because of their teeny tiny size. “Nugget,” or potato pearls, are chunky, off-round pearls. Ring pearls occur when the oyster didn’t rotate the pearl quite right in its’ shell while it was being formed, creating indented rings around the middle of the pearl.  Some enterprising pearl farmers have even developed pearls shaped like hearts!

Mabé pearls are pearls that form against the side of the oyster or clam’s shell. The pearl farmer will then chip them off of the side of the shell, freeing the gorgeous and unique pearl for jewelry use. These can appear found like a traditional pearl, only flat on the back, or they can be more baroque in shape. “Baroque” is the umbrella category that all these funny-shaped pearls fall into, which we use to describe any pearl that doesn’t quite fit any of the descriptions above. Check out our Aphrodite Collection for some examples of how these seemingly-strange pearls can actually be quite beautiful!

All of these funky, twisty, wobbly shapes look amazing after we turn them into a beautiful piece of jewelry. They certainly do make a unique fashion statement!

Of course, at Pearls International we still carry classic round pearls, and there is just no denying how lovely they can be!

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