South Sea Pearl

saf-ahyuh r
June Birthstone

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.

South Sea Pearl Polished
South Sea Pearl Classification
Common Name South Sea Pearl
Species Pearl
South Sea Pearl Optical Properties
Transparency Translucent - Opaque
Refractive Index 1.530-1.685
Birefringence 0.155
Optic Character NA
Optic Sign NA
Polariscope Reaction Aggregate (AGG)
Fluorescence SWUV: Variable
LWUV: Variable
CCF Reaction None
Pleochroism None
South Sea Pearl Characteristic Physical Properties
Hardness 2.5-4
Streak White
Specific Gravity 2.720-2.780
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, Pearly, Metallic
Stability Poor
Fracture Uneven
Cleavage None
South Sea Pearl Chemistry & Crystallography
Chemical Name calcium carbonate + conchiolin and water
Chemical Formula CaCO3
Crystal System NA
Chemistry Classification Organic

South Sea Pearl Colors

  • White South Sea Pearl White
  • Gray South Sea Pearl Gray
  • Brown South Sea Pearl Brown
  • Blue South Sea Pearl Blue
  • Yellow South Sea Pearl Yellow

Countries of Origin

Myanmar; Unknown; China; Philippines (the); Australia; French Polynesia; Indonesia

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Tim Matthews


Tim Matthews

Tim Matthews is President and Chief Executive Officer of Jewelry Television® (JTV), as well as a member of the company's Board of Directors. He oversees and leads all aspects of the company's powerful omni-digital retail platform that uniquely specializes in fine jewelry and gemstones. His passion for business and gemstones has led him to become a recognized expert in the field of gemology. He is a life member of the Gemmological Association of Great Britain (Gem-A) and has earned Gem-A's highest degrees, the Gemmology (FGA) and Diamond (DGA) diplomas. He is also a Graduate Gemologist (GG) of the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) and has also completed GIA's Graduate Diplomas in Diamonds, Colored Stones and Pearls. Under his leadership, JTV has become the leader in the sourcing and selling of color gemstones and jewelry.

This page was created on June 27, 2014.

This page was last edited on October 24, 2019.