What is a South Sea Pearl?

The queen of pearls

Thomas Edison once exclaimed: "There are two things which could never be manufactured at my laboratory - diamonds and pearls."

A pearl creates its own splendour. The creation of a pearl is a fascinating process that requires a great deal of time and care.

Gemmologists classify pearls in general as coloured gems of organic origin that are formed by some types of oysters in sea water, and by some fresh water shells.

South Sea Pearls
South Sea pearls are entirely formed out of natural pearl material called nacre, which surrounds a small nucleus that is inserted in the vital parts of an oyster. South Sea pearls are the largest pearls with the thickest nacre. They are the most precious as they are the most difficult to produce. The oyster that hosts these pearls is the Pinctada Maxima that lives in the warm, calm, pure blue waters of the South Seas. There are two prerequisites for the production of nacre: an uncontaminated environment that is rich in plankton, and an oyster of considerable size. When conditions are favourable, oysters tend to accept larger nuclei and can be inseminated up to three times. In addition to a notable size, the Pinctada Maxima oyster endows these pearls with a very thick nacre, a velvety opalescence and an indefinable range of colours. It takes about 24 months for pearls to reach a diameter of 10 to 18 mm. The silver-lipped Pinctada Maxima oyster will almost always produce silver white pearls with pink, grey or green hues, while the gold-lipped type gives rise to yellow or gold gems.

Tahitian pearls
The original colour of these pearls is very dark. They are formed in black-lipped oysters known by the name Pinctada Mergaritifera. They are cultivated all over Polynesia. They have a diameter that varies between 8 and 14 mm. Very rarely these pearls can reach a diameter of up to 16mm or even 17mm. They come in an immense variety of shades that range from dark grey to jet black. Utopia's classification criteria for Tahitian pearls are the same as those for South Sea pearls.