A Brief History of Pearls: Surface of South Sea Pearls

  A brief history of pearls


Surface quality is always important in determining the value of any pearl, and South Sea pearls are no exception.

What is Surface Quality on South Sea Pearls?

The term surface quality refers to how "clean" a pearl's surface is. In fact, experts gauge a pearl's surface quality by looking for blemishes such as:

  • Bumps
  • Cracks
  • Circles
  • Spots
  • Pits
  • Wrinkles

When a pearl's surface is dominated by flaws, it may be considered "heavily blemished." However, when it's relatively free of inclusions and other blemishes, experts place it in one of various grades of "clean."

Damaging and Non-Damaging Blemishes

Damaging blemishes are those that tend to become worse with time, and they are typically those introduced to the pearl during processing. Damaging blemishes can include cracks and chips that occur near drill holes.

Non-damaging blemishes are those that don't become worse over time, such as wrinkles, spots and bumps.

It's important to remember that some blemishes won't detract from the beauty or value of a pearl, and this is particularly true with South Sea pearls. That's because it takes these pearls 2 to 3 years to develop, and flawless or slightly flawed South Sea pearls are extremely rare.

How pearls form in oysters
How pearls are harvested
How pearls brought to market
Know your Akoya pearls
Akoya Pearl Cultivation
Akoya Pearl Harvesting
Akoya Pearl Processing
Akoya Pearl Evaluation
Quality Factor One: Luster
Luster of Akoya Pearls
Quality Factor Two: Surface
Surface of Akoya Pearls
Quality Factor Three: Shape
Shape of Akoya Pearls
Quality Factor Four: Color
Color of Akoya Pearls
Quality Factor Five: Size
Size of Akoya Pearls
Know your South Sea pearls
South Sea Pearl Cultivation
South Sea Pearl Harvesting
South Sea Pearl Processing
South Sea Pearl Quality Evaluation
Luster of South Sea Pearls
Surface of South Sea Pearls
Shape of South Sea Pearls
Color of South Sea Pearls
Size of South Sea Pearls
Know your Tahitian pearls
Tahitian Pearl Cultivation
Tahitian Pearl Harvesting
Tahitian Pearl Processing
Tahitian Pearl Quality Evaluation
Luster of Tahitian Pearls
Surface of Tahitian Pearls
Shape of Tahitian Pearls
Color of Tahitian Pearls
Size of Tahitian Pearls
Gift Giving Occasions

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