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How The South Sea Pearls Are Formed

south sea autsralia Few places on earth remain as untouched as Australia’s Northwest.  This coastline is one of the last pristine places remaining on our planet between Broome and Darwin. The coast is as wild today a sit was when Europeans settled the continent over 200 years ago.  Thousands of miles of uninhabited wilderness where the ocean teams with life.

south sea pearl oysterWe know and others whose secrets are hidden in the deep like this creature Australia’s South Sea pearl oyster also known as the silver lipped oyster.  Although it’s not much to look at on the outside on the inside. It has the ability to produce one of the most valuable gemstone known to mankind. Any mollusk that produces a shell can produce a pearl that includes opal one marine snails clams mussels and oysters.


The South Sea pearl oyster that lives here produces the cream of the crop. It’s a solitary creature that can grow to around one foot living for up to forty years. As a result the pearls it creates are the largest most lustrous along in recent years. A single Australian South Sea pearl was sold for over 1.5 million dollars.

south sea pearl

The notion that a pearl always forms when a grain of sand enters the creature is a myth. Another possibility is that some tiny organism invades the creature and disrupts the cells in the mantle.  Then something miraculous happens, the oyster begins to secrete a smooth crystalline substance known as “nacre” or mother of pearl. It is made of the same material that forms the inside of the shell.

mother of pearl

mother of pearl

This combination of calcium carbonate and protein is both lighter and stronger than concrete. It takes several years for thousands of layers of nacre to build up and create a smooth iridescent gem but it’s a rare event. A pearl of value is found in less than 1 in 10,000 wild pearl oysters

By | 2017-11-22T16:23:23+00:00 November 22nd, 2017|Categories: Gemology, Gemstones|Tags: , , , |Comments Off on How The South Sea Pearls Are Formed