Many consider the Queen of Gems to be  the South Sea Pearl.  In North West of Australia, in the warm waters off the coast of Broome, the Pinctada Maxima oyster which produces these pearls is considered to be ideal.

Voluminous, feminine and warm, pearl connoisseurs go nacres about these types of pearls because while  diamonds may be forever the white south sea  is just so flattering to a woman's beauty. 

Just take one look at the girl with the Pearl necklace, congress women Nancy Pelosi, (photo top of the page)  wearing her unconventional pearl necklace strand, and you get the picture.  As thick as a rope,  this pearl strand consists of contrasting combinations of  White, Golden and  Black Tahitian Pearls  of 11-14mm diameter. . One of the most powerful women in the United States, Nancy is known for her spectacular south sea pearl necklaces.

Non-drilled keepsake pearls are also available in the marketplace. But they don't come cheap. One large, perfectly round gem pearl of 12 millimeters can cost several thousand dollars.

Obscenely plump, they  come in extra large sizes and a variety of shapes. The chart below shows the wide range of  shapes.  As you move from left to right  the pearls become less expensive.

How the Name - "South Sea Pearls" Originated

 "La Pearl'  of  the "South Seas" is a deceptive description  especially in reference to those pearls farmed in Australia's -  "South Seas".  In the warm waters around Broome, in West Australia  the finest white pearls in the world are produced but this geographical location is actually  nowhere near the South Seas!

 Australia is a gem paradise wonderland, both on and offshore and enviable host on shore to  Gem Opals and Argyle Pink Diamonds !

The "south sea" misnomer can be traced back to the iconic founder of Mikimoto pearls, Mr Mikimoto (Mikimoto was not to many people's surprise the first to discover the pearl culturing technique). 

Kokichi Mikimoto thought Broome in Australia, might be a good location for pearl farming. Yep, he was definitely  right on the money there! You see, Mikimoto considered anything south of Japan, as the "South Seas". And so that is how the name "South Seas"  from South Sea Pearls stuck.

Mikimoto  was responsible for perfecting the cultured pearling technique in Japan and then successfully marketing  them to the world but not the actual  discovery. Mikimoto  changed the course of pearl history  in developing the technique and then stamped his own name onto pearls in the process.  There was now an affordable realistic alternative to Rare Natural Pearls.

The Pearl Islands

The following ar some of the world's finest producers:

  • Arafura Pearls, Elizabeth Bay, Northern Territory
  • Arrow Pearl Co., Beagle bay, Western Australia
  • Atlas South Sea Pearl Ltd, Waigeo Island, Indonesia
  • Autore Pearling, Quondong Point, Western Australia
  • Blue Seas Pearling Co, Dampier Peninsula, Western Australia
  • Cygnet Bay Pearls, Dampier Peninsula, Western Australia
  • PT Autore Pearl Culture, Lombok, Indonesia

( Autore Magazine, New World Order, author, date, unknown)

The Shades of Pinctada Maxima

The species of oyster and the environment in which they grow are the main factors behind determining a pearl's color and complexion.   Australia Produces the Best White Sea Pearls in the World and that's exactly  why Australia doesn't have much competition for their white cultured pearls. They can ask whatever prices they want for these high quality beauties.

This  queen of of the sea  is  highly coveted for their rich varied colors.  Pearls from the Pinctada Maxima oyster come in shades of white, ivory, silver, blue, yellow and rich gold.

Pearls from the Pinctada margaritifera oyster, referred to as Tahitian or Black Pearls come in the shades of aubergine, blue, green and grey, all with various hues. Very rarely  ever true Black!

Every pearl reflects color in a different way, either boldly on the surface or hinting at color  from underneath the nacre. This pearl quality is called Sheen and  often displays  beautiful iridescent overtones, oh baby - especially in the Pinks and Greens.

South Sea Pearl Sizes

The pinctada maxima oyster is the largest species of pearl producing oyster. Measured in millimeters, they commonly range form 9 - 20+ mm with the majority falling within the range of 10 - 17 mm.  Above 17 mm? Hmmmm...pure Pearl Orbcentities!

With this pearl size  does matter. Indonesian, Myanmar pearls and the Silver Lip of Tahiti are the largest species of mollusk cabable of producing pearl.

In contrast, the Akoya oyster which produces the Japanese Akoyas, tops out at 10mm, the White  Pearls from Australia, the black pearls from Tahiti (the primary island of French Polynesia) and the golden pearls from Indonesia and Myanmar have a minimum size of 10mm and a maximum of 20mm!

It is rare to to find ah...south sea  pearls smaller than 10 mm and larger than 16 mm.Though the pearl is  rare, the irregularly shaped baroque pearl can reach sizes up to 40-mm or more.

All types of pearls are generally measured using what is called a milli gauge which can measure the pearl within 0.01m accuracy.

In recent years the market has seen an increase in sizes under 10mm. These smaller pearls, 8 millimeter and 9 millimeter pearls are used in "baby south sea pearl necklaces." The comparison chart below shows the size range of white south sea pearls from Australia and Black Tahitian Pearls. 

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