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Standard styles and lengths

Symmetry (Shape)

Pearls come in eight basic shapes, Round, Semi-Round, Button, Drop, Pear, Oval, Baroque, And Ringed.

Perfectly round pearls are the rarest and most expensive, and are generally used in necklaces, or strings of pearls.

Semi-rounds are also used in necklaces or in pieces where the shape of the pearl can be disguised to look like it is a perfectly round pearl.

Button pearls are like a slightly flattened round pearl and can also make a necklace, but are more often used in single pendants or earrings where the back half of the pearl is covered, making it look like a larger, round pearl.

Drop and pear shaped pearls are sometimes referred to as teardrop pearls and are most often seen in earrings, pendants, or as a centre pearl in a necklace.

Baroque pearls have a different appeal to them than more standard shapes because they are often highly irregular and make unique and interesting shapes. They are also commonly seen in necklaces.

Ringed pearls are characterized by concentric ridges, or rings, around the body of the pearl. Pearls found attached to the inner surface of the shell are known as blister pearls or Mabe.

There is also a unique way of naming pearl necklaces. While most other necklaces are simply refered to by their physical measurement, strings of pearls have their own set of names that characterise the pearls based on where they hang when worn around the neck.

Necklace Names

Collar length Collar : A Collar will sit directly against the throat and not hang down the neck at all, they are often made up of multiple strands of pearls and are 12-13 inches long.   Choker length Chokers : Pearl chokers nestle just at the base of the neck and are 13-16 inches long.
Princess length Princess : The size called A Princess is the "classic" pearl necklace size and comes down to or just below the collarbone and are 16-20 inches long.   Matinee length Matinee : A Matinee of Pearls falls just above the breasts at 20-26 inches long.
Opera length Opera : An Opera will be long enough to reach the breastbone or sternum of the wearer and is most suited to evening ware, they are 26-36 inches long.   Rope length Rope : A Pearl Rope is any length that falls down further than an opera, over 36 inches long.


Necklaces can also be classified as uniform, where all the pearls are the same size, graduated, where pearls change in size from large in the center to several millimeters smaller at the ends, and tin cup, where pearls are generally the same size, but separated by lengths of chain.