South Sea Pearls
South Sea pearls are the largest and rarest pearls in the world. The largest are in the range of 20mm. The pearls have a luminous soft inner glow. Natural South Sea pearls have been dated as far back as the 1500's. Recently, these large pearls have enjoyed a resurgence as a result of successful culturing techniques.
South Sea Pearls at a Glance
Natural South Sea pearls were found in the sandy shallow waters inside of large oysters harvested for their shells as well as for food. These pearls were found only in a handful of the harvested oysters. As these oysters became depleted in shallower waters, diving techniques were invented and used to delve into deeper waters. In the 1950s the first Australian pearl farm was established to culture these large pearls.
Now, South Sea Pearls are still the largest of the cultured pearls in the fine jewelry market. New techniques have facilitated culturing of beautiful pearls. In addition to Australia, Indonesia and the Philippines are now successfully culturing South Sea pearls.
White and golden are the two natural colors of South Sea pearls. Some experts also consider Tahitian black pearls as a subcategory of South Seas. However, since they come from different regions of the world and a different host oyster, we separate the two. Of the two colors, golden South Sea pearls are more prized.
South Sea pearl value is determined by several value factors. The first and foremost is the appearance of the South Sea pearl. These factors include color, luster, shape and surface quality. Nacre thickness and how well the pearls are matched in a finished jewelry piece are also important.