South Sea Pearls


The allure of South Sea pearls is legendary. From the 1800's, Australia was the primary source of the world's largest, most voluptuous and most valuable natural pearl, the South Sea pearl. The Australians knew their pearls would be highly sought after, and they successfully pioneered the South Sea cultured pearl industry by coaxing the sensitive oyster into yielding a cultured pearl.

South Sea cultured pearls range from 10.0 to 15.0 mm, but larger examples can reach up to 20.0 mm. Only cultured pearls from the Pinctada Maxima possess the beautiful transparency and color overtones with rainbow hues ranging from white pink to silver pink to dark gold.

Originally exclusive to Australia, South Sea cultured pearls are now farmed in Indonesia, Burma, and the Philippines. However, the characteristics and quality of pearls from these regions can vary greatly. Australian oysters and ocean conditions are generally credited with producing the largest and finest quality pearls. Australian pearls can throw fancy colors including red gold which is extremely rare and highly regarded. Indonesia and Burma produce mainly white to yellow and also gold, while the Philippines produce mainly yellow and gold.

The Pinctada Maxima oyster is rare and will not survive outside the small area of its natural environment, making it extremely difficult to cultivate. Highly labor intensive, farms are by necessity situated in remote locations. To protect the wild natural stocks of oysters in Australia, the government strictly enforces production quotas. Not every Pinctada Maxima will produce a pearl and each oyster can grow only one pearl at a time. Good quality, 10.0 to 15.0 mm pearls usually take two years to grow. Larger pearls are generally found after the fourth or sixth year of the farming cycle.

What sets South Sea cultured pearls apart is the unique beauty of their nacre. As with all natural South Sea pearls, it is the quality and thickness of nacre that gives the pearls incredible luster that will last for generations. In high quality pearls, nacre thickness tends to be at least 3.0 mm and in many cases will reach over 6.0 mm.

Quality and rarity are the defining factors in determining the value of the finest South Sea cultured pearls. Pearl luster and color are the primary influences on a pearl's quality. These attributed are determined by the pearl nacre so, the finer the nacre the better luster and color and the valuable the pearl. All of USA Jewels pearl strands are of exceptional luster and arrive in your store with a guarantee that the luster and color are natural, not enhanced by artificial means.

The meticulous matching required to create an extraordinary strand can take up to a decade. Constructing such a precious piece is a process with no room for compromise. USA Jewels offers uniform and graduated strands to maximize customer choice.