South Sea Pearl | Gemopedia

Highly coveted South Sea pearls are often described as the pinnacle of cultured pearls--they're certainly among the most rare and expensive available. Primarily farmed in the pristine waters off Australia, the Philippines, and Indonesia, South Sea pearls are generally much larger than other pearl types, ranging from nine to 20 millimeters, and have a unique luster due to their nacre coating. As there are two varieties of this oyster, a gold-lipped and silver-lipped, pearls can be both white to silver and golden.
Colors
Gray, White, Cream, Yellow, Pink, Purple With Blue, Green Overtone

South Sea Pearl Classification

Common Name

South Sea Pearl

Species

Cultured Pearl

Variety

South Sea Pearl

Colors

Gray, White, Cream, Yellow, Pink, Purple With Blue, Green Overtone

Alternate Names

Gemstone Groups

Key Separations

Appearance, RI, birefringence blink and magnification. A "tooth test" is commonly used in which a pearl is rubbed against a tooth; if gritty, this is an indication that the surface is nacre, versus plastic and glass imitations that feel smooth.

Comments

Typical size of a South Sea pearl runs 10 to 15mm; They are produced by silver and gold lipped Pinctada maxima mollusk.

South Sea Pearl Optical Properties

Transparency

Translucent - Opaque

Refractive Index

1.53-1.685

Birefringence

0.155

Optic Character

NA

Optic Sign

NA

Polariscope Reaction

Aggregate (AGG)

Fluorescence

SWUV: Variable
LWUV: Variable

CCF Reaction

Pleochroism

None

Dispersion

Comments

South Sea Pearl Chemistry & Crystallography

Chemical Name

calcium carbonate + conchiolin and water

Chemical Formula

CaCO3

Synthesis

Crystal System

NA

Classification

Organic

Nature

Cultured

Crystallinity

Comments

South Sea Pearl Characteristic Physical Properties

Hardness

2.5-4

Streak

Specific Gravity

2.72-2.78

Toughness

Good

Inclusions

South Sea pearls tend to be more spotted than Akoya. They have a thicker nacre coat compared to other saltwater pearls. If the pearl is drilled you can inspect the hole to look for bead nucleus.

Luster

Dull

Stability

Poor

Fracture

Uneven

Cleavage

None

Comments

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