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  • Definitions of Pearl Types

    I want to purchase some loose pearls and wanted to ask for clarification on the definitions used to describe pearls. I've been looking primarily at Tahitians, but a lot of the vocab applies to any type of pearl.

    Is this the order of roundness (from round to less round)?
    ROUND > NEAR ROUND > OFF ROUND > OVAL >DROP > SEMI BAROQUE

    What exactly does "circled" mean? Is it referring to the circled groove (ring) in the pearl or is it more of a circle/band of color(s) on a smooth pearl surface?

    Baroque- does this mean any odd shape or mainly pearls with an innie or an outie on top? How does this differ from a drop?

    Do drops always have a smooth surface or can they also have uneven surfaces (rings around the pearls, not pits)? This question goes hand in hand with the one above it.

    Will definitions vary by the seller (something tells me yes... )?

    Thank you!

  • #2
    Circled: groove(s) around the pearl.

    Drop: symmetrically drop shaped. Could be smooth, could be circled.

    Baroque: not symmetrical around any axis, as in freeform baroques. I see the term used more generically to mean non-round, non-near-round, non-drop, non-oval pearls -- in other words, interesting shapes. Can be circled.

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    • #3
      Thank you PDs. Maybe that is why I'm getting confused. I have seen a lot of baroques that look like drops with circular grooves around them.

      How does the term "short" apply to pearls? Does it mean that there are grooves on a pearl, but the pearl is still considered somewhat spherical (compared to elongated), and that the grooves tend to be on one tip of the pearl?

      Is there a term for the color bands that go around the pearls (with no grooves)?

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      • #4
        This is to elaborate on my post in another thread. Amti, you're correct, not all sellers will be familiar with these definitions, but I hope the info will be helpful to you and others.

        A detailed summary of Shape Classifications: (from GIA Pearl Grading Manual)

        Spherical

        Round, appears round to the eye

        Near round, appears almost round to the eye. Some might be slightly out-of-round, elongated or flattened.

        Symmetrical

        Oval-symmetrical, rounded oblong shape.

        Button- symmetrical, flattened or slightly flattened, circular shape. Can be a high button or low button.

        Drop-symmetrical, rounded, pear shape. Can be a long drop or short drop.

        Baroque

        Semi-baroque-non-symmetrical, off-round, slightly irregular oval, button or drop shape.

        Baroque- non-symmetrical shape - will have a noticeable irregular appearance.

        For any shape other than the seven standard shapes, describe the shape as it appears-bar, cross or coin, for example.

        Some pearls have one or more grooved or ridged rings around the circumference. If the grooves extend around the entire circumference of the pearl, describe it as a circled pearl. Use the shape category along with the circled modifier-for example, circled drop.
        Pearls are also commonly described as nugget, rice, bar, coin, ripple, keshi, petal, roundel; that's all I can come up with right now, but I'm sure others will recall what is in common usage.
        Pattye


        PatriciaSaabDesigns.etsy.com

        facebook.com/PatriciaSaabDesigns

        SO MANY PEARLS, SO LITTLE TIME----

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        • #5
          I have also found that some people classify circled pearls as pearls that have bands of color on a smooth surface, too. I haven't run across that a lot, but I have seen it recently. If you're looking at a picture online of a lot of similar pearls and you're looking for something specific, most people don't have a problem taking some pictures of some that they have that meet your description to let you pick. I do this just about every time I buy a pearl from Etsy.

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          • #6
            Sellers usually elaborate if a pearl shows multi-colors or bands of color on a relatively smooth surface; I'm not aware of any term for that; "short" means whatever the seller wants it to.
            Pattye


            PatriciaSaabDesigns.etsy.com

            facebook.com/PatriciaSaabDesigns

            SO MANY PEARLS, SO LITTLE TIME----

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            • #7
              Thank you all so much. I felt like I knew what the terms meant but wasn't 100% sure.

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              • #8
                VERY helpful; many thanks to all!
                Cathy

                CathyKeshi

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                • #9
                  I would assume that 'short' refers to the length of the pearl...so a 'short' circled drop would be more squat than a 'long' circled drop. Probably you'd use it if you had quite a few to sell and it wasn't worth measuring each and every one of them ... sort of a general description?
                  https://www.instagram.com/pearlzaustralia/?hl=en
                  https://www.etsy.com/shop/pearlzaustralia

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