Pinctada maculata ("Pipi" pearls)

Pinctada maculata (Gould, 1850)

Distinguishing Characteristics

P. maculata is the smallest of the Pinctada genus. The shell measures barely over 5 cm in length, and the pearls are at most 8 mm in diameter. Nacre color ranges from white to golden and brown. The "pipi" shell is used in Polynesia as a delectable source of food.
fetch?id=350611&d=1371412496.jpg - Pipi shell with natural blister

A "Pipi" shell with a natural blister in it. Notice the characteristic golden color of the inner shell.
Ecology and Habitat
P. chemnitzii is found on the Northern coast of Australia and in the South and East China Sea. It is also native to the Japanese owned Ryukyu Islands.

P. maculata in Pearls
Known locally in the Cook Islands as "pipi", which means "small" or "baby". These tiny pearls are some of the only natural pearls still used today. They are often incorporated with black pearls (Pinctada margaritifera) from the Cook Islands into jewelry pieces that highlight the unique local treasures of the region.

Deeper golden body color commands higher prices in the pearl market. Pearls are light golden, however, with a range from champagne to deep yellow-gold.
Common SynonymsP.pica (Gould 1852)
P. radula (Reeve 1857)
P. pitcarnensis (Jameson 1901)
P. panasesae (Jameson 1901)
P. mauritii (Jameson 1901)
Popular NamesPolynesia: pipi
Primary SourceAbundant in Cook Islands and French Polynesia
Other geographical locationsIndo-pacific zone: Polynesia, Philippines, Papua New Guinea, Torres Strait, Melanesia
P. maculata in pearlsTiny golden pipi pearls from the Cook Islands are used as natural pearls

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