South Sea pearls are among the largest commercially harvested
pearls in the world. They are currently cultured in areas throughout the Indian
and Pacific Oceans, primarily in Australia, the Philippines, Indonesia and
Myanmar. The average size of a South Sea pearl is 13 mm, with most harvests
producing a range of sizes from 9 mm to 20 mm. The South Seas lie between the
northern coast of Australia and the Phillipines. These waters are the native
habitat of a large oyster known as Pinctada maxima. This oyster grows up to 12
inches in diameter, and can be nucleated with a much larger bead than other
saltwater oysters such as the akoya.
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South Sea Pearls Come From Two Varieties
Of Pearl-Producing Mollusks
There are two varieties of Pinctada maxima, the silver-lipped
and the gold-lipped. The two are distinguished by their distinct coloration of
the outer edge of the interior. This type of shell is also known as
mother-of-pearl, and is responsible for the coloration of the cultured pearls
produced, therefore the name. Unlike the akoya oyster, the South Sea oyster
will only accept one nucleation at a time. The oyster is nucleated when it is
only about half developed, from 4.7 inches to 6.7 inches in size, or about 24
months old. Although the South Sea oyster will only handle one nucleus at a
time, this oyster (like the Tahitian pearl producing Pinctada margaritifera)
can be nucleated up to three times over the course of many years.
The Exceptional Lustre our South Sea Pearls Exhibit
Shine - As
in all things, true beauty comes from within, so the virtue rated above all
others in a South Sea pearl is its lustre and shine. Lustre is the result of
light reflected from the pearl’s surface combined with its deep inner glow
South Sea pearls are made up of many fine layers of a
crystal-like substance called nacre, comprising organic and inorganic materials
secreted from within the living tissue of the oyster. The quality and thickness
of nacre gives a pearl both its radiance and its deep glow. The combination of
light reflecting on the pearl’s surface and light refracting between each layer
of nacre within the pearl is what makes this gem unique.
Shine has the magic to minimize other imperfections and is
considered the soul of the pearl.
Surface - There
are two essential aspects to be considered when assessing the surface of a
pearl: blemishes and grain.
The surface of a pearl is essentially its skin. Because South
Sea pearls have layers of lustrous nacre built up over time, a flawless surface
is extremely rare. As pearls are a gift of nature from a living mollusc, the
most beautiful and valuable pearls may still have slight imperfections which
appear in the form of small blemishes. These naturally bestowed ‘beauty marks’
characterise each pearl as an individual creation.
The pearl grain refers to the composition of the pearl's skin
and its structure. The tighter the structure of the pearl, the less evident is
its grain. The grain will appear as slight ripples on the pearl's surface.
In cases where the grain is only just visible, it will give the pearl a
slightly fractured appearance. As these fractures become larger and more
evident, they will appear as "cracks" within the structure of the
- South Sea pearls come in a variety of shapes, making them an
incredibly difficult gem to classify without a professionally trained eye. A
product of nature, each pearl is individual and unique. The major categories of
South Sea pearl shapes are; round, near round, drop, button, baroque and
circle. With the exception of round and near round pearls, there is a variation
of different types within each shape category. However, to simplify pearl
shapes, some general principles can be applied.
Shade - The
species of oyster and the environment in which they grow are the main factors
behind determining a pearl’s colour and complexion. South Sea pearls are highly
coveted for their rich, varied colours. Pearls from the Pinctada maxima oyster
come in shades of white, ivory, silver, blue, yellow and rich gold. Pearls from
the Pinctada margaritifera oyster (referred to as Tahitian or Black pearls)
come in shades of aubergine, blue, green and grey, all with various hues.
Each pearl reflects colour in a different way – boldly on the surface or
hinting at hues from within layers of nacre.
focus on pearl-ﬁrst design and excellent craftsmanship, our signature jewelry
pieces are at the forefront of design and use only the ﬁnest materials, natural
gemstones and diamonds to highlight the individual beauty of every pearl.