For centuries, the natural South Sea pearl have been regarded as the prize of all pearls. The discovery of the most prolific South Sea pearl beds in especially Indonesia and the surrounding region, such as, North Australia in the early 1800’s culminated in the most indulgent era of pearls in Europe during the Victorian era.
This type of pearl is distinguished from all other pearls by its magnificent thick natural nacre. This natural nacre produces an unequalled luster, the one which does not merely deliver “shine” as with other pearls, but a complex soft, intangible appearance which changes mood under different light conditions. The beauty of this nacre which has endeared the South Sea pearl to expert jewelers with discriminating taste over the centuries.
Naturally produced by one of the largest pearl bearing oysters, the Pinctada maxima, also known as Silver-Lipped or Gold-Lipped oyster. This silver or gold-lipped mollusc can grow to the size of a dinner plate but are highly sensitive to environmental conditions. This sensitivity adds to the cost and rarity of South Sea pearls. As such, Pinctada maxima produces pearls of bigger sizes ranging from 9 millimeters to as much as 20 millimeters with an average size of around 12 millimeters.
Attributed to the nacre thickness, South Sea pearl is also famous for the variety of unique and desirable shapes found. On top of those virtues, the South Sea pearl also has an array of colors from cream through yellow to deep gold and from white through silver. The pearls may also display a lovely “overtone” of a different
color such as pink, blue or green.
Nowadays, as is the case with other natural pearls, the natural South Sea pearl has almost disappeared from the world pearl markets. The vast majority of South Sea pearls available today are cultivated on pearl farms in the South Sea.