||A brief history of pearls
SOUTH SEA PEARL CULTIVATION
South Sea pearls, which come from Pinctada maxima, or the White lipped oyster, are among the largest available. They're typically white or gold, and they have a truly unique luster quality.
South Sea Pearl Cultivation
The rarest of all pearl types, South Sea pearls are carefully cultivated near Indonesia and Australia. They come from wild, handpicked oysters, and strict quotas have been established to prevent the species' depletion.
Finding White lipped Oysters for South Sea Pearls
Divers typically search up to 80 meters below the surface to find healthy, mature White lipped oysters to cultivate pearls. Some South Sea pearling operations use pearling ships to send divers into the water in search of oysters. After the oysters are plucked from their natural habitats, they're moved to isolated bays away from industrial waters that may contain pollution that would interrupt the production of pearls.
Nucleating White lipped Oysters
In order to get White lipped oysters to produce a pearl pearl farmers must nucleate them. The term nucleate refers to the process of making an incision in the oyster's soft tissue, or mantle, and inserting an irritant that causes the oyster to protect itself by excreting nacre. Layers of nacre coat the irritant, and the nacre hardens to create a pearl.
X-Rays for Oysters
Between 3 and 4 months after nucleation, each White lipped oyster is X-rayed to confirm that it hasn't rejected its nucleus. Oysters that have rejected the nucleus are discarded, while those that are developing a pearl are returned to their isolated bay.
How Long Does it Take South Sea Pearls to Develop?
A South Sea pearl develops over a 2- to 3-year period. In most cases, the longer a pearl takes to develop, the larger it will become.
How Valuable Are South Sea Pearls?
South Sea pearls are typically the most valuable of all cultured pearls. They're scarce and large, and those two factors alone make them valuable.