South Sea Pearl - Colour, Characteristics & Properties - TJC

South Sea Pearls

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South Sea pearls are coveted for their satiny lustre, exceptional quality, significant size, and an exciting process of cultivation. Luxurious South Sea pearls are often portrayed as the zenith of cultured pearls as they are one of the rarest and expensive pearls on the earth. These beautifully glossy pearls are gorgeously distinguished thanks to their large size. The lustre of these pearls is softer in appearance than that of the Japanese Akoya Pearls. South Sea pearls illuminate an impressive glow that seems to arise from within. What makes South Sea Pearls exceptional is their snow whitish, almost silver colour and the smoothness and roundness. These are the rarest pearls you will find in your jewellery collection.

Origin and Supply of South Sea Pearls

These snow white and golden honey pearls can be cultured in particular water conditions, so pearl harvesting is done in the southern part of the Equator between the Indian and Pacific Oceans. These luxurious pearls are mainly cultured in Australia, Indonesia, the Philippines, Myanmar, Japan and Thailand. Western Australia is known for its high-quality white pearls, while the Philippines are equally famous for their brilliant golden variety.

Facts about South Sea Pearls

  • It ranks 2.5 to 4.0 on the Mohs scale of hardness
  • South Sea pearls are not associated with any zodiac sign and don’t represent any star sign
  • Pearls are regarded as the symbol of virtue, chastity, serenity, and purity in the Christian tradition
  • Romans called pearls the tears of Venus, goddess of love, beauty, and desire.
  • These pearls are the traditional gift for the 30th wedding anniversary

Properties of South Sea Pearls

South Sea pearls are harvested from the white-lipped Pinctada maxima oyster. These oysters are comparatively larger than the oysters that are used to produce Akoya and Freshwater pearls. Hence the pearls produced by Pinctada maxima oyster is much larger. Due to the rarity and quality of this kind of oyster, cultivation of these pearls is much more difficult, making them more expensive. As these pearls are cultivated in warmer waters, they don't have the same reflective gloss as Akoya cultured pearls. On an average, a South Sea pearl requires 2 to 4 years to grow. Pinctada maxima oyster can produce up to 3 to 4 pearls in its whole life span. ...


The base and body colour of South Sea cultured pearls will appear close to pure white, buttery cream, or sparkling silver. These base colours can be influenced by hues of honey, tropical orange, and refreshing blue tones. Most of the South Sea pearls range between white and gold colours. These base colours are also influenced by secondary colours in some events; these secondary colours are known as the overtone. These cultured pearls can display overtones varying from rosy pinks, pastel greens, and baby blues.


Most coveted South Sea pearls come in round shape for which they are well known, but they may also come in baroque shapes that can be irregular or oblong in shapes, making them extremely beautiful and unique.


South Sea pearls display an excellent lustre. These pearls reflect bright and sharp contrasting light. These pearls have a clean or sometimes lightly spotted surface, allowing light to beautifully reflect through it.


South Sea pearls are largest in size as per other pearls. They grow typically to sizes between 9mm and 20mm. Their average size is about 12mm.

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What to remember while buying South Sea Pearls?

  • South Sea Pearls appear much more satin-y and softer than Freshwater pearls or Japanese Pearls.
  • Know where your pearl came from. Mostly, the south sea pearls are formed in Australia or Philippines.
  • South sea pearls are coveted for their gorgeous natural colours. Remember that all the colours on south sea pearls are natural. Sometimes you will see overtones of rose gold or yellow gold.
  • The smallest size you’ll find it in is 8-9mm and the maximum size you can naturally find them in is 16mm.
  • They came quite late to the jewellery world, starting to be traded in 1950s.
  • A naturally cultivated south sea pearl takes 2 years to harvest.
  • No added processing takes place to get the lustre and colour to the pearls, they’re very natural.

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Frequently Asked Questions about South Sea Pearls

1. How are South Sea Pearls Cultured?

South Sea pearls are cultured from Pinctada maxima, thus the first and foremost requirement for raising healthy oysters and culturing of South Sea pearls is warm waters. It is mandatory that the water is clean and unpolluted as polluted waters negatively impact the quality of pearls produced. White or golden pearls will develop depending on the oyster. You can easily tell what colour of pearl will grow by checking the lip of Pinctada maxima. White-lipped shells produce white pearls, while gold-lipped shells produce golden pearls. Healthy and suitable oysters are identified based on their size and the quality of the nacre they produce. Some of these oysters are sacrificed to provide the seed for new pearls. When the oysters are harvested, shells are shaped into round beads. These beads are then inserted into the broodstock, that is afterwards placed in cages for safety and left to grow in the sea. It takes 2 to 4 years for these beautiful pearls to grow. Meanwhile, workers keep a check on the health of the mollusks, keeping their mouth and opening clean and making sure that natural predators are not damaging the farming broodstock. Submerging the oysters between 30- 40 meters deep is considered, and it accelerates its growth. When the oysters are ready for harvest, the best oysters are reseeded to grow and develop a new generation of pearls. As the oyster has fully grown during this time, the future stock is likely to be larger. In the same way, multiple generations of pearls can be grown. Remaining stock is harvested, and pearls are collected from them.

2. Is shell of oysters is used after harvesting?

After harvesting, shells are used to seed a new generation of oysters. They are also used as Mother of Pearl n jewellery and other decorative items.

3. Are South Sea Pearls treated?

These pearls are all-natural and organic and don't undergo any artificial treatment or enhancement.

4. Is South Sea Pearl valuable?

Being the rarest and the largest most cultivated pearls in the world, these pearls are expensive. They can be cultured in particular regions requiring a particular environment and conditions, making them expensive.

5. How to determine the value of South Sea Pearls?

The overall smoothness and clarity and lustre determines the price of these pearls. Blemishes also help in determining the value; more it is blemish-free more is its value.

6. How to take care of South Sea Pearls?

Like other pearls, this cultured pearl is also delicate. The nacre of the pearl can wear or chip away if you don’t take extreme care of the pearls. You must store your pearls in a different box with a soft lining so that no other metal or jewellery can rub against them. It should be taken care of that no makeup, hairspray or harsh soaps or chemicals comes in contact with your pearl.

7. Are South Sea Cultured Pearls a Birthstone?

This pearl is one of the three birthstones for the month of June, along with moonstone and alexandrite.