Pearls – Why They Come in Many Shapes and Sizes

Unique, beautiful and mysterious, the timeless elegance and sophistication of pearls cannot be denied. From the traditional designs of single strand pearl necklace, to contemporary and modern designs that create a stir whenever they are worn, Linneys will have you wanting this jewellery classic.

How pearls are formed

These beautiful stones are formed when an irritant (tiny piece of coral, grit or a bead) enters an oyster, either naturally or with help from a pearl grower. The mollusc covers the irritant with epithelial cells, trying to create a smooth surface to avoid damage to its tender flesh. In doing so, the oyster forms a pearl sac. These epithelial cells deposit concentric layers of nacre around the intruder, layer after layer, carefully culturing a pearl.


Pearl size is one of the key factors affecting the value of pearls and also one of the first things to be noticed. Linneys Australian South Sea and Tahitian South Sea pearls are available in sizes ranging upwards from 8 millimetres. Grown for a minimum of two years, each pearl is allowed to develop a thick coating of nacre, increasing its strength and producing a superior quality product.

Any Australian South Sea pearl that exceeds 13 millimetres is prized for its rarity, making those in excess of 20 millimetres a truly exquisite treasure.

Pearl shapes

The shape of a pearl will not only affect the appearance but the price. We categorise our pearls as: round, near round, drop, oval, button, circle and baroque.

A pearl that is perfectly round in shape is rare and highly desirable, however, pearls of different shape will be more suitable for different styles and jewellery types.

Pearls shapes:

  • Round: perfectly round pearls are the rarest and most valuable shape.
  • Near-round: used for necklaces or in pieces where the pearl can be disguised to look round.
  • Drop: often used in pendants, pearl and diamond earrings or necklaces.
  • Oval: used as a stunning addition to pearls earrings and necklaces.
  • Button: used in pendants or pearl stud earrings where the flat back can be covered, giving it the appearance of a round pearl.
  • Baroque: valued for their unique and fascinating shapes.
  • Circle: these pearls have a concentric ridge around the centre of the pearl.

Pearl colours

The colour of a pearl is comprised of up to three elements: body colour, overtone and orient.

Bodycolour describes the dominant colour of a pearl, while overtone is a layering of translucent colour over the dominant shade. For example, a pearl may have a white bodycolour with pink overtones, a highly desirable combination.

Orient does not occur on every pearl and describes a rainbow iridescence that lies on or just below the surface. When choosing your pearl, colour is a highly personal preference. Demand for certain colours may mean they carry a premium, but Linneys offer a wide array of natural coloured pearls to satisfy every individual taste.

From bright whites, creams and golds to the iridescence hues of black Tahitian pearls, the colour of the stone is decided by the type of oyster in which the pearl is grown. Other influences include diet, water temperature and pollutants.

White, cream and black pearls tend to be the most popular, but silver, gold and pink pearls are striking. Tahitian black pearls are rarely true black, they throw off shades of green, purple, blue, grey, silver or peacock. The very best pearls have a metallic mirror-like lustre.

Why choose Linneys for pearl jewellery?

A champion of the local pearl market, Linneys are renowned for their masterful creation of fine and bespoke pearl jewellery. Taking creative inspiration from the beautiful Western Australian outdoors, the teams’ expert craftmanship ensures all pieces are carefully fashioned to the highest possible standard.

With more than 40 years’ experience, our team take pride in working with clients to discuss their individual diamond and pearl jewellery preferences in Perth – contact us today.