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Rare & Beautiful: South Sea Pearls

28th August 2017 // By Manon Crespi

I’ve always been captivated by the exotic South Sea pearl, and for good reason. South Sea pearls, which range in size from 8-18mm, aren’t just larger than other types of pearls. These rare and beautiful pearls also possess high-luster colorations with extraordinary metallic nuances. I recently caught up with Scott Friedman, a Master Gemologist Appraiser and founder of the luxury appraisals firm, Rare Concept, who tells me that South Sea pearls are “some of the most valuable and treasured pearls in the world.” These exquisite gems come in three main colors: golden, white and black.

jewelmer necklace

Jewelmer 18K yellow gold Tropical necklace with 8-15mm golden South Sea pearls and 27.44 carat diamonds, $250,000, Oliver and Espig Gallery of Fine Arts, oliverandespig.com

The jaw-dropping Jewelmer necklace shown above exemplifies the sheer elegance of the golden South Sea pearl, which Friedman says comes from the Pinctada Maxima oyster. Among the largest pearl oysters in the world, Pinctada Maxima oysters grow to the size of a dinner plate and are either golden- or white-lipped. Friedman says, “High quality golden South Sea pearls are usually found in the Philippines and include a wide variation of shades of light to dark golden colors.” Friedman says that white South Sea pearls, shown below in the gorgeous diamond-studded white South Sea pearl J Stella earrings, are commonly found off the shores of Australia and are typically creamy white in color with a silver overtone.

j stella earrings

J. Stella 18K white gold Stiletto earrings with 13.5-4mm Australian South Sea pearls and 1.80 carats diamonds, $8,800, jstella.com

The Baggins Tahitian pearl earrings shown below perfectly accentuate the unique, almost gunmetal hues of Tahitian or black South Sea pearls, which Friedman says are valued for their remarkable colors and metallic-like luster. These South Sea pearls are found exclusively off the shores of Tahiti and the French Polynesian islands. Friedman adds, “Whereas other pearl types are typically limited in color, Tahitian pearls consist of hundreds of overtone combinations with incredibly exotic colors such as peacock green, silver green, blue and purple.”

baggins earrings

Baggins 18K white gold Aurora Eclipse earrings with 14-15mm Tahitian pearls and 8.16 carats diamonds, $30,000, bagginspearls.com

All South Sea pearls are characterized by a high luster quality, which is due to the large aragonite platelets that make up the pearl. South Sea pearls also have the thickest nacre of all cultured pearls. Be enamored with more of my favorite captivating South Sea pearl jewelry pieces by clicking here.