Pearls are pretenders. There; I said it. Their glossy, incandescent exteriors fail to reveal the true madness of their conception: an irritant (actually usually a PARASITE, not a grain of sand, as the pearl lobby would have you believe) embeds itself into the soft bits of a shelled creature—oyster, mussel, clam—and as a defense mechanism, a fluid is dispensed to combat the interloping element. The fluid coats the nascent nuisance, it hardens and layers develop into what is called nacre. The end result that most people are familiar with: a glowy little orb that looks like it fell from heaven, when it was, in fact, formed in the cold, dark nether regions.
But here am I to ask you a pressing question: Have you ever seen a baroque pearl? A fancy name for something that bears more than passing resemblance to a mutant, baroque pearls are pearls that have been THROUGH IT while forming. No clean and even layers of nacre here! I would argue that baroque pearls better reflect the process: If a villainous parasite takes up with you, wouldn’t you want to show how you defeated them??
The best part of baroque pearls: Like clouds, people like to see shapes in their lumpy exteriors. And since pearls are used in jewelry, designers create fascinating little pieces of art from them.
They are weird as heck and I love ‘em.
I shall now rate some particular favorites:
Someone in the comments on Instagram described this little guy as “solidified chewing gum” which, like, if you’ve never thought jewelry descriptions can be poetry, hopefully that changes your mind. He looks like one of those Pixar monsters that’s horrifying, but also so cute you would die for him. I would quite literally throw myself in front of a bullet for this little weird-eyed, snake-tailed (?) guy. (posted by @littlegemhunter)
Excuse my language, but what the fuck is going on here?? The description compared it to Edvard Munch’s “The Scream,” but I immediately recognized that it is obviously a pearl recreation of that scene in Talented Mr. Ripley when Jude Law and Matt Damon go to that jazz club and Jude Law invites Matt Damon up to sing with him and he’s like, real tentative and terrified but also totally in love with this guy so of course he goes. Anyhow. (posted by @lydiacouterille)
Listen, I know I said I’d die for the chewing gum guy up there, but humans are fickle, ok? Now that I’ve seen this suspicious squirrel who absolutely does not want you to see that he is holding a juicy nut, I realize that I would die for him and him alone. I will protect your nut!! (posted by @laelius.antiques)
Nope. I don’t want whatever weird enchanted poisoned apple shit this guy is trying to sell me. I can confidently say this will give me nightmares. Someone should write a horror movie about him. Is it a possessed child? A fallen angel? Wait: Now that I look closer, is he holding someone’s eyes that were perhaps recently plucked out? I’m changing my score to -100/10. (From Wilson Brothers)
Okay, this is a really cute concept, so, you know, points for that. But the execution leaves a bit to be desired. First off: It’s way bigger than it looks. Can you image walking into a meeting with this thing staring at people? (Actually, now that I’m spitballing, maybe that’s a good way to get ahead at work. “Don’t mess with Jenn, I think she keeps people’s souls in that weird walrus brooch…”) Second: Yes, yes, the whole point is that baroque pearls are “natural” and have “interesting characteristics” but sometimes those characteristics can look like tumors. (from Mousson Atelier, Co. Ltd.)
According to the British Museum (and why should I not believe them?), the idea of using a baroque pearl’s shape to help form the anatomy of a piece started in earnest in the 1550’s. I can only imagine what people were doing with these things before that. Eating them, probably. If you want “real” “facts” and “to learn” “educational” “information” about this stuff, I’m sorry, you are in the wrong place. Literally just go to the British Museum’s website and read their whole spiel. I’m here for one thing and one thing only: to admire this guy’s chest-to-waist ratio. The Kardashians WISH. (from the collection at the British Museum)