South Sea Pearls
The world’s finest White South Sea pearls are cultivated in Australia. They are mainly produced in the tropical waters along the North West coast of Australia. Indonesia and the Philippines also produce the magnificent natural gold South Sea pearls. South Sea pearls are generally much larger than other pearl types and have a unique lustre quality, therefore they command the highest price of all pearls.
The South Sea pearl is produced by the saltwater silver lipped oyster, Pinctada maxima. This oyster is much larger than the Japanese oyster up to 30 centimetres or more in diameter which means they can produce the largest pearls in the world. It is a wild oyster species. South Sea pearls are cultivated for longer periods and as a result, have much thicker nacre coating than other pearls. Only one pearl is grown in each oyster.
Australian South Sea pearls are famous the world over because of their exceptional lustre and amazing iridescent white to creamy colours. The colour of the pearl is depicted by the colour of the mother of pearl lining inside the shell of the Pinctada maxima oyster. Silver lipped generally produces pearls with white, silver, aqua and blue overtones. The rarest and most expensive colour of South Sea pearl is white with pink hue, but the silvery-white is also in high demand and very expensive.
The gold lipped varieties develop cream, champagne, vanilla and gold pearls and are generally from Indonesia and the Philippines.
Six basic shapes are defined at production; round – a perfectly round sphere, near round – very slightly imperfect shape, drop – teardrop, oval, egg shaped, button – dome or disc shaped, baroque – irregular or free formed in shape with no symmetry, circle – parallel bands or rings around the pearl circumference.
South Sea pearls start at 8.0mm in diameter. The average size is 9.0mm – 14.0mm. South Sea pearls over 16.0mm in diameter are considered to be rare. In the rarest of cases South Sea pearls have been known to exceed 20.0mm.
|Australia, Indonesia, Philippines
|Silver lipped oyster, Black lipped oyster, Penguin oyster
|8.0mm – 20.0+mm
|White, ivory, silver, cream, champagne, gold
|Round, near round, drop, baroque, circle