South Sea Pearls
South Sea Pearls are known for their exceptional quality and beauty. In nature, it is hard to find a single natural pearl right now, most of the South Sea Pearls today are cultured pearls.
The Pearls come from the clam Pinctada Maxima, which can culture larger size pearls. A tiny bead (nucleus) made from shell – about 7mm is implanted in a clam so that it is gradually coated in layers of a beautiful, pearlescent substance called nacre which build up creating a lustrous pearl.
The formation of a South Sea Pearl is quite unpredictable and even the slightest environmental change could produce changes in shape or blemishes. So a perfectly spherical South Sea Pearl is considered to be the ideal of the gem.
South Sea Pearls Quality
Color. Typical pearl colors are White, Cream, Yellow, Pink, Silver and Gold. A pearl can also have a hint of secondary color or "over tone" which is seen when light reflects off the pearl surface. So a pink "over tone" may become apparent in a white pearl.
Shape. The highest quality is perfect round shape while most of the South Sea Pearls come in off-round (near-round), oval, drop, button and baroque.
Luster. Pearls produce an intense deep shire called luster. This effect is created when light reflects off the many layers of tiny calcium carbonate crystals that compose the pearl. This substance is called nacre. The larger the pearl, the thicker the nacre which exhibits a higher and richer luster.
Surface. As a clam creates a pearl, the layers of nacre do not always adhere smoothly. Sometimes spots and bubbles will appear during the layering processes. Pearls with the smoothest surface are the highest quality and most sought after pearls.
Size. The size of the South Sea Pearls ranges from 9mm to 20mm. Most of the cultured pearls that harvest are 9mm to 13mm. For pearl size that is larger than 13mm will be considered as rare size which could easily command a higher price.
Care of South Sea Pearls
With special attention and care, your pearls will last a lifetime or more.
The best way to take care of your pearls is to wear them often because the body's natural oils keep them lustrous. Keep your pearls away from perfume, cosmetics, perspirations and stains which can dull their luster over time and cause spots and blotches.
After each wearing, wipe your pearls carefully with a soft cloth and keep them separate from other jewellery that might scratch their tender surfaces.
Wash pearls periodically with mild soap (NOT detergent) and a soft cloth, then rinse them in clean water and wrap them in a thin damp cotton cloth to dry. If the pearls are especially dirty, wipe them with acetone polish remover (which does not damage the pearls). DO NOT use jewellery cleaners with ammonia or vinegar in them.
The Thread of a pearl necklace will eventually slacken or weaken over time. You should check the thread regularly and replace it with silk thread if possible. Be sure to have each pearl knotted separately.