What Are Baroque Pearls?

Baroque pearls freshwater pearls

What Are Baroque Pearls?

The traditional image of pearl jewellery is one of perfectly round white spheres. Baroque pearls (in our opinion) are much more interesting! They take many years to form and come in a variety of shapes and sizes, and no two are exactly alike. In short, traditional pearls are round and everything else can be called baroque.

The resurgence of pearl jewellery has largely come from a more contemporary attraction to natural shapes and forms. Rather than being rigidly restricted to traditional spherical pearls, we believe that these differences are to be celebrated.

The Subtypes of Baroque Pearls Explained:

Within Baroque Pearls there are several different subcategories. All with their own qualities:


The word Keshi comes from the Japanese word for poppy. Keshi pearls are gorgeous. They are typically formed by older mussels, which result in a slower growth of the pearl. Because of this they tend to have some of the highest lustre and iridescence. They are formed without a nucleus which causes them to grow in very varied and unique shapes. We embrace this variety in our Dot stud earrings.  We feel showcasing these pearls on a simple stud really lets their beauty shine!


Fireball pearls take their name from the comet-like tail which trails behind a fairly spherical body. We love jewellery pieces which use the fact that these pearls have a clear “direction” enhance the overall design.


As you might expect these pearls resemble grains of rice! Small, elongated ovals.


A not so pretty name for a very pretty variety of pearls! Potato pearls grow as short ovals, but with one end slightly larger than the other, like a squashed egg shape. This slight asymmetry attracted us to use them in our Mia earrings, where we drill them sideways to showcase this subtle quality.


Also called button pearls or flat pearls. Coin pearls have round disk-like shapes. They are formed by the pearl farmer inserting a small disk as a nucleus into the mussel.


Also called stick pearls. Biwa shaped pearls originally take their name from Lake Biwa in Japan. However these days, most “Biwa” pearls (like the vast majority of all cultured freshwater pearls) are grown in China. The terms now generally refers to highly elongated shapes, rather than the place of origin.


Another fairly obvious name! This type of baroque pearl tapers at one end to a point. We use teardrop baroque shapes on our drop earrings (like Isla and Mimi), where the slim and more vertical design suits the elegant teardrop pearl shape.


Somewhat confusingly baroque is a subcategory of all baroque pearls. These tend to be relatively oval in shape and more uniform than Keshi pearls, but still beautifully varied. We use baroque pearls in almost all of our hoop and drop earring designs. From Olivia, which showcases a single large baroque pearl and can be worn everyday through to Arabella, with up to 9 large baroque pearls suitable for special events and weddings. We love baroque pearls!

As you might imagine the subtypes listed above often cross over. A pearl could be part one type and part another, for example a short biwa pearl might be called a large rice pearl, or a fireball pearl with a finely tapered tail might be classified as teardrop. You get the idea!

And this is just a selection of the different shaped pearls which now exist. You can get cross shaped pearls, and even heart shaped pearls! The list goes on.

Look at this way, if all people were exactly the same our lives would be numbingly predictable. Similarly if all pearl jewellery only featured the same round balls it would become repetitive and boring. I hope that in reading this you can understand why we are fascinated by baroque pearls and why we think they make such strikingly beautiful pieces of jewellery.

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