the waters off Australia coasts, Pinctada Maxima, the oysters that
grow South Sea pearls, are the largest and rarest oysters in the world.
These special oysters produce the most beautiful nacre and the smoothest
pearls. Pinctada Maxima oysters only exist in a small area known as
'the South Sea', which includes the Indian Ocean around Northern
Australia, Southern Indonesia and the Southern Philippines. With the
world’s cleanest coasts, north Australia is the area that produces the
loveliest South Sea pearls.
Sizes and Shapes of South Sea Pearls
South Sea pearls are the
largest pearls in the world. Due to the thickness of nacre produced by
their shells, the South Sea pearl is also famous for the variety of
unique and desirable shapes often found. The shapes of South Sea pearls
include round, teardrop, semi-round and baroque. Each one is unique
product of nature.
The Rarity of South Sea PearlsPinctada Maxima oysters are the
rarest oysters in the world. They only exist on an extremely limited
number of shell beds found in the warm tropical seas sometimes referred
to as the South Sea. Pinctada Maxima oysters are solitary and sensitive.
They won't survive in densely populated communities. The oyster shell
beds are located in deep waters of extremely remote locations. South Sea
pearl oysters produce thick nacre surrounding pearl nucleus only when
they are presented with ideal natural conditions.
The Australian government
has a strict control over production of pearls. Each oyster is issued a
license number. Only a limited number of oysters are cultivated each
year. South Sea pearls require the most labor intensive cultivating process of all pearls.
Colors of South Sea Pearls
South Sea pearls come with a
wide range of beautiful colors: white, silver, cream, yellow gold and deep
gold. They also display a special overtone color including gold, pink, blue or
green. Dark blue South Sea pearls are very rare and they can be called
"black pearls". The colors of South Sea pearl are totally natural.
Distinctive Characteristics of South Sea Pearls
South Sea pearls are
distinguished from all other pearls by their magnificent thick natural
nacre. The nacre produces an unequaled luster - a luster that not only
delivers shininess as with other pearls - but a complex luster which
resembles a soft creamy voluptuous appearance which changes mood under
different light conditions.
Value of South Sea Pearls
Due to the extremely thick
nacre of South Sea pearls, their quality is similar to a natural
pearl's. The fineness of nacre has big impact on the value of South Sea
pearls. Other factors such as pearl size, shape, color also determine
the pearl's value.
Five factors need to be considered when buying South Sea pearls: pearl luster, size, shape, color and surface.
How to buy South Sea Pearls
Luster is the most important factor in determining a pearl’s value. A
pearl’s luster gives the pearl iridescence and depth. Luster is
determined by the thickness of pearl nacre. Very lustrous pearls have a
deep-mirror like surface and bright shininess. Pearls with low luster
look dull. South Sea pearls possess a thick, creamy nacre and are famous
for their rich and silky luster.
Shapes of South Sea pearls include round, teardrop, semi-round,
circle, oval and baroque. Perfect round and teardrop shapes are
extremely rare and are the most valuable. Though other shapes are less
valuable, they do have their own unique appeal. Baroque pearls, for
instance, are popular for their uniqueness, size and casual character.
The general rule is: the cleaner the surface, the more valuable the
pearl is. Flawless South Sea pearls are very rare and they command a
high price. As pearls are a natural creation, they tend to have some
natural imperfections. When buying South Sea pearl jewelry, examine the
pearl surface carefully.
Most common sizes for South Sea Pearls are 9-15mm. South Sea pearl
farmers have begun to cultivate smaller pearls down to 7mm to capture
more of the Japanese market. South Sea pearls in 15mm-20mm are very rare
and they are extremely valuable.
Body colors of South Sea pearls include warm white, silver, cream,
yellow and sparkling gold. Overtone colors include pink, blue and green.
Combinations of the most beautiful and rarest colors such as white-
pink, silver- pink and gold are the most south-after colors. South
Sea pearls in these color ranges command a top price in the market.