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Queen of The Sea - The South Sea Pearl


Natural Pearl
Jun 22, 2004
South Sea pearls are considered by many to be the queen of all pearls. These pearls are some of the largest, most valuable pearls in the world. They are produced exclusively by the white-lipped oyster (Pinctada Maxima). South Sea pearls grow as large as 22mm, with an average size of 15mm. They have a longer than average culturing time averaging 3 years, and thus have a very thick coating of nacre – from 2-6mm.

Although South Sea pearls are much more valuable than their Akoya counterparts they do not possess the same mirror-like luster. Instead South Sea pearls are known for their satiny, warm luster. This is, of course, due to the sheer depth of the nacre.

Because of the long culturing process that these pearls endure, it is very rare to find perfectly, or near perfect, clean South Sea pearls. A strand of large perfect pearls will typically retail for upwards of $150,000, and wholesale for more than $50,000.

Australia is the main source for these queen-gems. Many other countries have tried to successfully culture these pearls, but the quality has yet to reach that of the Australian South Seas. I would like to point out, however, that Jewelmer of the Philippines has been consistently producing very high quality Golden South Sea pearls. I was fortunate enough to view their pearls at an auction in Hong Kong and was pleasantly surprised to see how quickly they have been able to achieve such quality.