From the 1800’s Australia was the primary source of the South Sea Pearl, the world’s most valuable natural pearl. The South Sea Pearl is produced from the world’s largest producing oyster “Pinctada Maxima.”
Discovered off Australia’s north coast in the early 1800’s, they found major beds of Pinctada Maxima oysters. Some of the finest pearls known to man came from this region.
Mother-of-pearl was then used to make buttons, but demand for them declined in the 1950’s with the invention of plastic. The last two surviving Australian pearl masters changed their mastery of pearl diving to pearl culturing. The Australians had a insight that the Pinctada Maxima oysters, if coaxed, would yield a cultured pearl. They were successful; their pioneering efforts produced the South Sea Cultured Pearl!
Originally the South Sea Pearl was exclusive to Australia, they are now farmed in Indonesia, Burma and the Philippines. Pearls from these regions can vary greatly, in quality and characteristics. Australian South Sea oysters are usually the largest and highest quality. Australian pearls produce fancy colors, sometimes throwing red-gold, a highly sought after and rare pearl. White, yellow and gold colors are mainly produced.
The Pinctada Maxima is rare and it’s shell will not survive outside the small area of it’s environment. This makes them extremely difficult to cultivate. Pinctada Maxima farms are very labor intensive and found in very remote areas. The Australian government strictly enforces the production quotas.
The Pinctada Maxima oyster can grow only one pearl at a time, and not every shell will produce a pearl. A South Sea Pearl usually takes four to six years to grow.
What sets South Sea Pearls apart from other pearls is their nacre. It is the quality and the thickness of the nacre that gives these pearls their incredible luster that lasts for generations. The nacre reaches 3 to 6 millimeters thick in high quality pearls
Quality is the defining factor in the value and rarity of Cultured South Sea Pearls.
Pearl color and luster are what influence a Pearl’s value and rarity. These two qualities plus the quality of the pearl’s nacre determine the value and rarity.
The finer the nacre, the better the color and luster will be, the better these qualities are, the more rare and the more valuable the Pearl!