Golden South Sea pearls are among the largest, most valuable pearls produced today. They are grown in the gold-lip variety of the Pinctada maxima, South Sea pearl oyster. Their warm, golden tones are completely natural, and no treatments are needed to enjoy the beauty of these luxurious gems.
Golden South Sea pearls, much like white South Sea pearls, are typically larger than other saltwater pearl varieties. Their host shell is the largest pearl-producing oyster, and is able to grow a very large pearl. As with other saltwater oysters, the Pinctada maxima is bead-nucleated. However, the growth period is approximately 2-4 years, unlike the akoya pearls, which develop in one to two years, and Tahitian pearls which develop in under two years.
The value of a golden South Sea pearl is heavily dependent upon the color; the deeper the golden color, the more valuable the pearl. The overall value of these pearls is higher than akoya or Tahitian, and very comparable to white South Sea pearls. The deepest golden color, often referred to as 24 karat, is considered the most valuable color of all South Sea pearls.
Pearls produced by the gold-lip South Sea pearl oyster range is colors from a creamy white to a deep gold. The varying hues in between are often referred to as yellow and champagne. Each of the colors may be beautiful in their own right, but the most valuable is gold.
South Sea pearls are quite large, and they tend to have very thick nacre. For this reason, not all golden South Sea pearls are as perfectly spherical as other saltwater pearl varieties. In a typical pearl harvest, there will be a large number of drop pearls, button pearls, baroque pearls and circle pearls.
Golden South Sea pearls can grow quite large. An 8 mm pearl would be considered a large pearl if akoya, but this is the smallest size one will find in South Sea. The average size is in the 10 to 13 mm range, and some remarkable pearls have been found as large as 20 mm.
While white South Sea pearls predominately come from Australia, golden South Sea pearls are now primarily grown in the Philippines and Indonesia, with Australia making up only a small percentage. Golden South Sea pearls are, however, typically sold on auction in cooperation with white South Sea pearl producers, and many of the auction lots will offer a mixture of both white and gold. The auctions are held several times each year in Japan and Hong Kong.
Of all the cultured pearl varieties on the market today, South Sea pearls are the undisputed leaders in value. Their large size, combined with the relative scarcity, make them among the most desired as well. A perfect strand of deep golden South Sea pearls in a large size can sell for more than $100,000.
For more South Sea pearl information feel free to ask any of our team members. We are the experts on pearls and can answer any questions you may have.