White South Sea Pearls
White South Sea Pearls refers to pearls grown in the southern ocean, mainly off the coast of Western Australia, Indonesia, the Philippines and Myanmar. They are grown in the Pinctada Maxima oyster which is the biggest oyster of all species (size 20-30cm).
There are the “yellow-lip” (mainly Philippines, Indonesia) and the “silver-lip” (mainly Australia and some parts of Indonesia) Pinctada Maxima oysters which all produce a slightly different colour of pearl.
Pearls produced range in size from 9 to 18mm (occasionally bigger). The largest cultured South Sea pearl is 24mm.
Either wild oysters or oysters from hatcheries are collected for pearl culturing. The period of cultivation is around two years.
The seeding operation is an extremely delicate process and not all oysters will produce a pearl. Some will die, some will reject the nucleus and of those that will grow a pearl only a small percentage will produce a round pearl. Most of the harvested pearls will be in different shapes such as oval, drop, button and baroque. A substantial percentage of the harvest is not saleable or of very low commercial value and very few will be of gem quality.
White South Sea pearls come in a variety of colours, ranging from white through to silver blue, and from cream to golden colours. The rarest and expensive colours are silver white, white rose and dark gold. The other colours like cream, yellow, blue, grey and champagne are more affordable.