What are Baroque Pearls and Why are They so Alluring?

What are Baroque Pearls and Why are They so Alluring?

What does Baroque Pearl Mean? Nature's Unique Creations

Okay, let's start with answering what baroque pearls actually are. Baroque pearls are known for their stunning distinctive and irregular shapes, setting them apart from the traditionally priced and praised round pearls that you most commonly see in classic jewellery.

Unlike standard round pearls, which are prized for their perfect symmetry and smoothness, baroque pearls are celebrated for their unique contours and textured surfaces.

Baroque pearls are formed when the mollusk's internal shell process is disturbed, leading to the development of pearls with free-form shapes and often complex, rippled textures. 


The RAW Baroque Pearl Earrings on texture gold vermeil hoops

The term "baroque" comes from the Portuguese word barroco, meaning "coarse and uneven pearl", a term reflecting the pearls' intricate and varied forms. This natural variability means that each baroque pearl is one of a kind, which in my opinion is so part of their charm.

Baroque pearls can range from subtly off-round to highly abstract shapes, including twists and bulbous forms that appeal to those who appreciate jewellery that stands out from the conventional.

Baroque pearls can be found in both freshwater and saltwater environments. Freshwater baroque pearls, often cultivated in lakes and rivers, tend to exhibit a wider variety of shapes and colours, while saltwater baroque pearls are typically sourced from oysters in seas and oceans and are highly valued for their lustre and size.

Baroque Pearl necklaces

Stunning Baroque pearls on simple gold chain, no two are the same

Their distinctive beauty makes baroque pearls a favourite among jewellery designers, who seek to create striking, conversation-starting pieces that highlight the natural and unrefined beauty of pearls, as well as reflect the uniqueness of the person, who wears them.

Whether featured in necklaces, earrings, bracelets, or rings, baroque pearls offer a touch of the unusual and a connection to the raw beauty of nature, making each piece truly unique.

Historical Popularity of Baroque Pearls

Baroque pearls have fascinated jewellers and aficionados for centuries, with their allure deeply rooted in history. Their distinctive, irregular shapes have made them a symbol of wealth and status since ancient times, yet it was during the Renaissance that they first properly surged in popularity.

Image from Wikimedia Commons: Victoria and Albert Museum Jewellery 11042019 The Canning Jewel Merman Baroque pearl 19th century

Renaissance Splendour

During the Renaissance, a period marked by a renewed appreciation of art and beauty from the 14th to the 17th century, baroque pearls became particularly prized among European nobility. Artists and jewellers of the time celebrated the natural beauty of these pearls, incorporating them into highly elaborate pieces that combined them with gold, precious stones, and enamels.

These creations often featured baroque pearls as the bodies of angels or animals in pendants and brooches, highlighting their unique shapes. The Renaissance's focus on artistry and individual expression made the unique qualities of baroque pearls especially desirable.

17th and 18th Century Royal Courts

In the 17th and 18th centuries, baroque pearls maintained their status among the European elite. The pearls adorned the garments and jewellery of kings and queens, signifying not only wealth but also a connection to the divine. Notably, portraits of Queen Elizabeth I of England often  show her adorned with baroque pearls, which were often used to convey a sense of majesty and purity (see the image further below).

20th Century Revival

Image from Wikimedia Commons of a René Lalique design featuring a baroque pearl


A significant revival occurred in the early 20th century, particularly during the Art Nouveau and later the Art Deco periods. Designers of the Art Nouveau era, such as René Lalique, used baroque pearls to enhance their organic, flowing jewellery designs that mimicked natural forms and structures. The Art Deco period, with its emphasis on bold, statement pieces, also saw a resurgence in the use of baroque pearls, as their unusual shapes provided a stark contrast to the geometric lines typical of the era.

Modern-Day Resurgence

The RAW Sardinia Necklace featuring a large stunning baroque pearl

In recent years, baroque pearls have seen another resurgence in popularity as modern jewellery lovers and designers alike seek unique and statement-making pieces. The trend towards personalised, distinctive and more unique jewellery has made baroque pearls a favourite once again, as each pearl offers a one-of-a-kind aesthetic that appeals to how unique and special every person is.

Historical Figures and Their Baroque Pearls

Queen Elizabeth I of England

Image from Wikimedia Common, image of the Armada Portrait of Queen Elizabeth I

Queen Elizabeth I's love for pearls is well-documented in her numerous portraits, where she is often depicted wearing lavish dresses adorned with pearls. Among these, baroque pearls were particularly favoured for their unique shapes and were often sewn onto her gowns or used in her elaborate necklaces and headpieces. One notable piece was the "Armada Portrait," where she wears a large, pear-shaped pearl earring, and layers of strings of pearls and pearl head pins.

The pearls symbolise Elizabeth’s chastity and connect her to Cynthia, the Greek goddess of the Moon, who was a virgin and therefore seen as 'pure'. Further pearls symbolised the 'divine right of kings', the doctrine that asserts that a monarch is not accountable to any earthly authority, be it parliament or pope, because the monarch's right to rule is derived from divine authority.


Empress Sisi of Austria

Image from Wikimedia Commons of Empress 'Sisi' of Austria with her famous hairpins

Empress Elisabeth of Austria, famously known as Sisi, was another royal figure renowned for her enchanting beauty and her exquisite taste in jewellery. She possessed a famous hairpin designed by the court jeweller Köchert, which featured large baroque pearls set amidst diamonds, resembling a delicate feather. This hairpin not only reflected her sophisticated style but also her penchant for personalising her appearance with striking and innovative pieces.

Marie Antoinette

Image from Wikimedia Commons of Marie Antoinette 

The French queen Marie Antoinette also had an affection for baroque pearls, which featured prominently in her collection of personal jewellery. One famous anecdote involves a lavish pair of diamond and pearl bracelets she purchased, which contained some of the largest baroque pearls seen at the time. These pearls later became a part of her legacy, symbolising the excesses of the monarchy before the French Revolution.

Duchess of Windsor

Image from Wikimedia Commons of The Duchess of Windsor, Wallis Simpson

Fast forwarding to the 20th century, the Duchess of Windsor was known for her unconventional style and love for statement jewellery pieces. Among her collection was a striking necklace featuring a series of large baroque pearls, artfully integrated into a diamond and onyx setting. This piece highlighted how baroque pearls could be incorporated into modern jewellery designs, showcasing their versatility and enduring appeal.

Coco Chanel

Image from Wikimedia Commons of Coco Chanel

Coco Chanel, the pioneering French fashion designer, was instrumental in popularising costume jewellery in the 20th century, and baroque pearls  as well as classic round pearls were a staple in her collections. She often mixed real pearls with faux ones and didn’t hesitate to include baroque pearls for their distinctive, less formal look.

Chanel's endorsement of these pearls as part of everyday fashion democratised and rejuvenated their appeal, blending them with both haute couture and ready-to-wear ensembles.

The Timeless Allure of Baroque Pearls

Baroque pearls, with their unique shapes and organic beauty, are more than just jewels; they are a testament to nature's artistry. Each pearl, with its individual contours and textures, tells a story of the sea and waterways, making them a compelling choice for those who value uniqueness and personal expression in their adornments.

For the modern woman, baroque pearls symbolise not just elegance, but a bold defiance of the conventional. In a world that often prizes uniformity, the distinctiveness of baroque pearls serves as a reminder of the beauty in imperfection and the strength in standing out. This makes them a perfect emblem for female empowerment—a celebration of the inherent, unique beauty found in each of us.


RAW Copenhagen Jewellery your go to indie jewellery brand for funky and feminine jewellery designs made sustainable and where custom fitting is free of charge, check out the many beautiful beaded gemstone and pearl chokers, pearl earrings or bracelets

The RAW Sisterhood Necklace featuring a stunning big freshwater baroque pearl 

Furthermore, the versatility of baroque pearls makes them an excellent addition to any jewellery collection, transcending their traditional use as ornaments for special occasions. Whether it’s dressing up a casual outfit for an everyday look or adding an unexpected twist to evening wear, baroque pearls adapt effortlessly. They encourage personal style and creativity, allowing you to weave a bit of luxury into daily life.

Embrace baroque pearls for their history, their beauty, and their power to express individuality. Let them not linger in the shadows of a jewellery box, reserved for rare moments. Instead, let them shine regularly, as a celebration of everyday elegance and a statement of your personal style and uniqueness.

Invite these natural wonders into your wardrobe and discover how their irregular beauty cannot only complement but also transform your ensembles. Baroque pearls are not just jewels; they are an attitude, a statement, and a way to connect to the timeless narrative of style and sophistication.

Want to check out all RAW's baroque pearl designs? The check out the entire pearl collection here:

RAW's Pearl Collection

I hope you enjoyed learning more about the fabulous gem that baroque pearls are.

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