South Sea Pearls refers to pearls from Pinctada maxima – a large oyster also called the silver-lip or yellow-lip (gold-lip) oyster depending on the color of its shell lip. They are extensively cultured in areas of the Indian and Pacific Oceans, including Myanmer, Indonesia, Philippines, and Northern Australia.
The color of south sea pearls is white to golden. Their sizes are normally large than 9mm, sometimes can reach 19mm.
South Sea Pearl is very precious. Its beauty and gorgeous luster honor its reputation as "the queen of pearls".
Luster and Nacre
Luster and Nacre are important factors of evaluating South Sea pearl price. Judge luster see Luster and Nacre
White South Sea pearls have a lower luster potential than Akoya pearls and Tahitian Pearls.
South Sea pearls today should have a nacre thickness of at least 1mm of the radius. The nacre thickness can be measured in the X-ray photograph or by roughly estimating from the drilled-hole.
South Sea pearls are graded for imperfections of the percentage of the surface area. South Sea pearl have a long cultivation period from 1.5 to 2 years. Therefore only few South Sea pearl are perfect surface without any blemishes. The price of those perfect south sea pearls will be as high as thousands dollars per piece.
The color of South Sea pearls varies depending on which oyster the pearl comes from. The oyster in Northern Australia is silver-lip oyster which tends to produce white south sea pearls with silver overtone.
The gold-lip oyster which is commonly found in sea area of south-east Asia, round Indonesia, Thailand and Philippine produces yellow or creamy South Sea Pearl.
Among those colorful south sea pearls, white, pink and golden South Sea Pearls are most valuable. Creamy one is for a lower price. For their overtone, silver, pink overtone can be more valued than overtone of bluish-gray or green.
Culturing a good pearl is really ambivalent and difficult. If want to have a perfect round pearl, this pearl would not be stayed in the oyster for too long, otherwise, it will grow to be irregular. But if the pearl stay in the oyster for a short time, its nacre will be too thin to make the pearl high quality.
Since South Sea Pearls will stay in the oyster for such a long time, we can't even know how it will grow to be before harvest. And their shapes are much more various than Akoya pearls'.
South Sea pearl can be round, off-round, oval, drop, pear, button, acorn, triangle, circle and baroque.
Sometimes, if you want to buy a South Sea pearl with limited budget, you need to be willing to compromise on the shape; after all, a round and perfection South Sea pearl is so rare. Its price may be far high beyond your budget.
South Sea Pearls generally range in size from 9 to 19 mm. Until now, the world's largest round South Sea pearl is 24 mm.
Because the big size of South Sea pearl, the graduated strands aren't normally sold in 1/2 mm increments as Akoya pearls. The different between the largest one and the smallest one is around 2mm on one strand. But you can ask your jeweler to customize your own strand. After all, a strand of beautiful South Sea pearls can be very expensive and deserve a special service.
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