Michael C. Fina®

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South Sea Pearls:

One of the most celebrated pearl types, South Sea pearls are the largest type of cultured pearls in the world. These pearls come from the pinctada maxima oyster, found in the Indian and Pacific Oceans around Australia, the Philippines, Myanmar, and Indonesia. These oysters are found only in a small number of deep ocean habitats and are very rare.

Many factors contribute to the larger size of the South Sea pearls. First, the naturally large size of the mollusk allows pearl farmers to use larger than average foreign objects to start the pearl creation process. Also contributing to the size of these pearls is the abundance of plankton (food for oysters) and the warm water conditions of the South Sea. While Akoya pearls typically take 9-16 months to farm, South Sea pearls are harvested only after a minimum of two years. The pearl that is produced has a smooth, satin-like luster that is the result of the natural conditions of the oyster. The pearls come in a variety of colors that are typically uncommon in other pearl types including white, silver, and gold.