South Sea Cultured Pearls
The legendary allure of South Sea pearls comes from their transparent luster and unique play of colors, or “orient,” that imparts a luminescent beauty. These qualities define the finest nacre and make South Sea Pearls the most valuable of all pearls. The finest of these pearls have nacre measuring between 3.0mm and 6.0mm.
Color overtones range from white pink and silver pink to dark gold. Australian pearls can throw fancy colors including red gold — extremely rare and highly regarded. Stuller’s South Sea cultured pearl strands arrive at your store with a guarantee of natural luster and color — no enhancements. This is the South Sea pearl quality you want.
How Extraordinary is a Matched Strand?
The meticulous matching required to create an extraordinary strand can take up to a decade. This process leaves no room for compromise.
Australian oysters and ocean conditions are generally credited with producing the largest and finest quality pearls. From the 1800s, it was the primary source of the world's largest and most valuable pearls. Aware that their pearls would be in high demand, Australia pioneered the South Sea cultured pearl industry, coaxing the sensitive Pinctada Maxima oyster to yield pearls — no easy feat.
Lifestyle of the Famous Pinctada Maxima
P. Maxima is the largest pearl oyster, and it is rare, unable to survive outside small remote areas of natural habitat. Culturing it is extremely difficult. Labor-intensive farms must be situated in the isolated locations that meet P. Maxima’s highly specific needs. Each oyster can grow only one pearl at a time and takes about two years. It can only be reseeded three to four times. Not every P. Maxima will produce a pearl. Most South Sea cultured pearls range from 10.0 to 15.0 mm taking two years to grow. Larger pearls up to 20mm take four to six years of growth. Australia protects its wild oyster stocks by strictly enforcing production quotas.
More About P. Maxima
This amazing oyster lives up to 40 years and can grow to 300mm in shell length. Impressed? Wait. Like many other saltwater oysters, it functions as both a male and a female during its life. It matures first as a male at 110mm to 120mm or three to four years. By 170mm half are females and by 190mm all are females.
Where Else Are They Cultured
Originally exclusive to Australia, South Sea pearls are cultured in Indonesia, Burma, and the Philippines, but the characteristics and quality of these pearls can vary greatly. Indonesia and Burma produce mainly white to yellow and also gold, while the Philippines produce mainly yellow and gold.