White South Sea Pearl

All You Need To Know About South Sea Pearls

When we think of pearls, the first thing that comes to mind is a woman’s necklace. Pearls are often called “nature’s perfect gem,” and they have been around since ancient times, present in medicine or as symbols of status. Nowadays, pearls are sought after for their beauty and rarity, but people often do not know where they come from. One of the most popular types of pearls is the "South Sea” pearl. But what makes them so special? Where do they come from? Read on to find out.

Where Do They Come From?

South Sea pearls are formed in what is called the “South Sea oyster”, hence the name, also known as the Pinctada Maxima. The oyster itself has two types, the white-lipped oyster, and the gold-lipped oyster. They can be differentiated by looking at the patterns and colors visible on the interior edges of the oyster. The cultivation of these pearls isn’t an easy task, as the oysters are not only rare but also very sensitive creatures. Due to this, not only are South Sea pearls some of the rarest pearls in the world but also offer the most expensive varieties of cultured available. South Sea pearls are revered worldwide for their smooth, satiny glow that offers a soft sheen over the pearl and is, in general, larger than the average pearl.

As for location, the native habitat of the South Sea pearl is in the South Sea situated between the southern coast of China and the northern coast of Australia. The water there is clean and pure and hosts heavy masses of plankton, which is the Pinctada Maxima's favorite food source. Thanks to this oyster-friendly environment, the Pinctada Maxima living there can work faster at producing thick layers of nacre around manually inserted nucleus beads, which eventually results in highly lustrous pearls. The surgical implantation process for Pinctada Maxima is not needed when it’s around half-formed. The processes of nucleation can take place up to three times.

As of today, the areas cultivating the South Sea pearls are scattered through the Pacific and Indian oceans, the Philippines, Australia, Indonesia, and Myanmar.


South Sea pearls are, as mentioned, larger than regular pearls. The reason for this is that the Pinctada Maxima can grow up to 12 inches in diameter, and is by all standards, a large oyster. This allows pearl farmers to implant beads larger than the ones used for regular-sized oysters, such as the Akoya pearl. Around the time of harvest, the Pinctada Maxima can produce a pearl ranging in size from 9mm to 20mm. Usually, a pearl found in the South Sea will easily be 12mm in size. 


One might be surprised to find out that out of all harvested South Sea pearls, only around 10-30% is nearly, or even fully, round. But that does not mean that the rest are discarded or treated as less. Baroque and drop-shaped pearls are high in demand and well-loved by jewelers and collectors. Jewelry is often designed to accommodate their unique shape and is often a way to buy a beloved jewel while keeping an affordable price range.


There are two dominant types of Pinctada Maxima: the White Lipped oyster, and the Gold Lipped Oyster. The White-lipped oyster produces a South Sea pearl with a silver and white hue as well as that with blue overtones. The Gold Lipped Pinctada Maxima produces champagne-colored and deeper gold-colored varieties of the South Sea pearl. After they are harvested, all South Sea pearls are washed and cleaned since their natural color is quite rich itself. In many events, the Golden South Sea pearl is more expensive than the White South Sea pearl, as it is said to look more dramatic.

How Valuable Are They?

Being one of the rarest varieties of pearls, these uniue and beautiful pearls are highly sought after. It can sometimes take several years to grow a Pinctada Maxima big enough to harvest. Also, because of their high demand, it is quite common for South Sea Pearls to sell for thousands of dollars per gram. The White South Sea Pearl has always been more valuable than the Gold South Sea Pearl, except for in some cases.

What Are They Used In?

South Sea pearls are often used in various pieces of jewelry. Necklaces, bracelets, rings, pendants, and earrings are some of the most popular. They are also used in cosmetics and other fashion accessories like purses and special clothes.

What Are Their Uses?

Apart from collecting or simply adorning yourself with them, South Sea Pearls are used to make unique art pieces with lots of symbolic meanings. Butterflies with lots of South Sea pearls glued to them are very rare works that were only recently made available to the public. These butterflies represent transformation into an enlightened state with the help of love and compassion. It is often said that when one buys a piece like this it is like giving love. South Sea pearls are often used to represent creation and life. They are also associated with the sun, as it is known to be made up of many layers of nacre, making it very hard.

Where Can You Buy South Sea Pearls?

South Sea pearls are most often available at jewelry stores or pearl dealers. However, due to their rarity and high cost, most people just aren’t able to afford them. Online, however, there are many sellers ready to sell you South Sea pearls for a reasonable price.

Overall, South Sea pearls are a wonderful type of pearl that has been given extra care and attention from growing to harvesting. They are rare and considered even more valuable than regular cultured pearls, as they take a longer time to grow, and are difficult to produce. The South Sea pearl is also known to be the pearl with the most variety out of all pearls, so if you are looking for something truly unique, these pearls are for you.


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