Pearl Guide

South Sea Pearls

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South Sea Pearls Defined

A South Sea pearl is pearl produced by the Pinctada maxima mollusk. They are currently cultured in areas throughout the Indian and Pacific Oceans, primarily in Australia, the Philippines, Indonesia and Myanmar.

South Sea Pearls - Among The Largest In The World

South Sea pearls are among the largest commercially harvested cultured pearls in the world. 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...

Mabe Pearls

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Mabe Pearls Defined
A Mabe pearl is a worked and assembled blister pearl (attached to the shell). It is typically of hemispherical shape and is grown against the inside of the oyster's shell, rather than within its soft tissues. Natural blister pearls are commonly found in nature.

Cultured Mabe Blisters on their shells. Photo courtesy of Dr. César Lodeiros and his research team in Ecuador.

Are Mabe Pearls Rare?
Mabe pearls are not considered rare or highly valuable, except those grown in...

Keshi Pearls

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Keshi Pearls Defined
A keshi pearl is a non-beaded pearl formed by accident, as a by-product of the pearl culturing operation.

Akoya Keshi Pearls

How Keshi Pearls Are Formed
Keshi pearls are formed when the oyster rejects and spits out the implanted nucleus before the culturing process is complete, or the implanted mantle tissue dislodges and forms a separate pearl sac without the nuclei. These pearl sacs eventually produce pearls without a nucleus.

Keshi Pearls Can have Salt or...

Today's Market for Tahitian Pearls

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Tahitian Pearls, The Early Years

Tahitian pearls retained popularity throughout the South Pacific as a gem of beauty and rarity, but the pearls were, for much of their early years, unheard of in Western markets.

Jean-Claude Brouillet Starts a Tahitian Pearl Farm

It was not until businessman Jean-Claude Brouillet purchased a South Marutea atoll and started a Tahitian pearl farm in 1975 that Tahitian pearls began to infiltrate the world market.

Brouillet began working with a well-known...

Tahitian Pearl Farming

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Culturing Tahitian Pearls
By Josh Humbert of Kamoka Pearls (

Tahitian pearls are cultured in lagoons surrounded by atolls in French Polynesia using the Pinctada margaritifera mollusk (pearl oyster).

Collecting the Baby Oysters

Oysters start their lives as free-swimming plankton in the lagoon. After three weeks of swimming, they begin to grow shells and search for a surface onto which they can attach. Farmers set out collectors during strategic times of year (usually...

Kokichi Mikimoto

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Kokichi Mikimoto

Kokichi Mikimoto's contribution to the cultured pearl industry cannot be overstated. While he may not have single-handedly invented the industry, he played a pivotal role in its development and widespread acceptance of the Japanese akoya pearl. Born in Toba City, Japan, in 1858, Mikimoto's father sold noodles for a living. Little did he know that his passion for pearls would shape his destiny and revolutionize the world of jewelry.

Mikimoto's journey into pearl cultivation...

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