What are South Sea Pearls?


‘South Sea Pearls’ is the broad term given to a species of Saltwater Pearls grown around the world

What’s in a name? Pinctada is the Genus name for bivalve molluscs that produce the following South Sea Pearl varieties:

Pinctada Maxima – The Australian Pinctada Maxima oyster produces the largest and most lustrous Pearls in the world. The majority of these Pearls are grown in the pristine waters around Broome and the Kimberley region in the North West of Australia. The Pearls are usually white in colour from the silver lipped oyster and the rarer gold lipped oysters produce gold coloured Pearls.  Pinctada Maxima Pearls are most common in 10-15mm sizes but have been known to grow larger than 20mm, The nacre is commonly 4-6mm thick, making the Pinctada Maxima Pearls the most beautiful of all.

White and pink Australian South Sea Pearls sitting on oyster shell

Australian South Sea Pearls

Pinctada Margaratifera  Also known as Tahitian Pearls or Black Pearls. They are traditionally grown in Tahiti, French Polynesia and are usually grey, green, brown and black. The Pearls are grown in rows suspended in the lagoons and filter the nutrients from the water. They commonly grow in size from 8-14mm however larger Pearls are not uncommon. 

Tahitian South Sea Pearl

Tahitian Pearl 

Pinctada Fucata – Also known as Akoya or Japanese Pearls are primarily grown in Japan. Akoya Pearls are often round and have a mirror like skin. Akoya Pearls are the oldest variety of cultured Pearls and their production is tightly controlled. The Akoya Pearls usually grow from 2-11mm and the nacre thickness is generally 0.30-0.7 mm.

Other varieties of Pinctada Pearls include Pinctada Radiata from the Persian Gulf, Pinctada Mazatlanica from Mexico and Pinctada Albina from Shark Bay in Western Australia.

Regent Pearls specialises in Australian and Tahitian South Sea Pearls from the Pinctada Maxima Oyster

To view our Pearls click here

To learn more about Pearls, we recommend the GIA Pearl page