Baroque pearls are pearls with an irregular non-spherical shape. Shapes can range from minor aberrations to distinctly ovoid, curved, pinch, or lumpy shapes. Most cultured freshwater pearls are baroque because freshwater pearls are mantle-tissue nucleated instead of bead nucleated. Cultured saltwater pearls can also be baroque, but tend to be more teardrop-shaped due to the use of a spherical nucleation bead.
Baroque pearl, pearl that is irregularly or oddly shaped. Pearl formation does not always occur in soft-tissue areas, where the expanding pearl sac grows regularly because it encounters no appreciable resistance. Pearl cysts are sometimes lodged in muscular tissue, for example, where, unable to overcome the resistance of tough muscle fibres, they assume irregular or unusual shapes.
Baroque pearls were highly prized by Renaissance jewelers, who saw them not as misshapen products of sea mollusks but rather as unique and exquisite natural forms. They were often used in pieces of jewelry to form the bodies of figures. A superb example is a piece from the 16th century known as the Canning Jewel (Victoria and Albert Museum, London), in which a large baroque pearl is used for the torso of a sea figure having the body of a man and the tail of a fish, the whole mounted in enameled gold set with pearls, rubies, and diamonds.
Ever Since I was a little boy I would watch my mother and grandmother open a big black metal box that contained the jewels they had inherited or purchased through the years. There was one item that I always wanted to hold in my hand. It was string of pearls that my mother called her baroque pearls. She pronounced it the English way, barock. My Scottish friend Graham Walker with whom I attend many of the Early Music Vancouver concerts also pronounces it as barock,
I told Rosemary that for the all-woman performance of many of our favourite Vivaldi works this December 23 at the Chan (including the magnificent Gloria in D major, RV 589) I wanted her to wear my mother’s pearls. We looked and we looked. They were gone! I suggested that perhaps we had forgotten that we may have left them in our bank box. Rosemary’s text from the bank, “They are here,” was a relief and most satisfying.
My wife and two daughters Ale and Hilary (in their 40s) and our 15-year-old granddaughter will be sitting all on a row on the 23 savouring the Gloria which has been part of our family tradition for our Nochebuena (Christmas Eve) dinner since 1971.
In fact we first heard the Pacific Baroque Orchestra for the first time in 1996 at Ryerson United Church when they performed that work with the Elektra Women’s Choir. This time around it will not only be the chorus and soloists but the orchestra, too will all be women!
Since Rosemary and I lived in Mexico City from 1968 to 1975 (and I had lived there off and on since 1955) we knew all about baroque churches with their elaborate gold leafed retablos (altars and altar pieces).
In Mexico we learned of an even more intricate and elaborate form of the baroque and this was in the difficult to spell word Churrigueresqe named after Spanish architect architect and sculptor, José Benito de Churriguera (1665-1725). The style was important in Spain until the 1750s but was copied and elaborated with even more complication by Mexican architects.
You can bet that on December 23 while we listen to "the women" our memories will be of flickering lights in complex gold leafed Mexican retablos.