Australian south sea pearls

English 简体 РУССКИЙ

Culturing the Perfect Pearl

5 December 2012

Culturing the perfect pearl

Known for its unique lustre, shape, colour and size, the Australian South Sea pearl remains the finest of all pearl varieties. Originating from the rare Pinctada maxima oyster, the world’s most prized pearl oyster, the Australian South Sea pearl is, on average, much larger in size compared with the likes of the Akoya, Tahitian, freshwater pearls and even South Sea pearls from other regions. Australian pearls exhibit exquisite nacre quality with beautiful transparency and natural colour overtones known as ‘orient’.

The Pinctada maxima is the only oyster that produces the South Sea pearl. Unlike other pearl producing oysters and mussels, the Pinctada maxima thrives only in pristine, natural environments where plankton-rich nutrients abound. It is in these conditions, in the hands of Mother Nature, that the Pinctada maxima oyster can produce the nacre required to create the incredible lustre and size of Australian South Sea pearls.

Australian South Sea pearls

Since the early 1990’s the Australian Government has enforced strict diving quotas to protect the rare Australian South Sea pearl oyster to ensure the sustainability of the industry. Australia has the world’s last significant beds of wild Pinctada maxima and is the only country in the world still using wild shell as the primary basis of its production.

Paspaley has been fishing for wild South Sea pearl oysters for more than 75 years; long before cultured pearling began in Australia. Founder Nicholas Paspaley Senior MBE and his son Nick Paspaley AC, methodically studied the Pinctada maxima and its environment and pioneered the innovative techniques required to culture pearls in the unique Australian environment. After many years dedicated to the pursuit of natural beauty, investment and innovation, Paspaley has become the source of the world’s finest quality rare cultured pearls and has set the benchmark for the worldwide pearling industry in environmental sustainability.

Paspaley’s expertise

From the outset, Paspaley’s aim has been to produce cultured pearls of a quality and size comparable to natural pearls. Today, Paspaley is the only surviving company to have applied its experience with natural pearls to the production of cultured pearls.

The majority of Paspaley’s cultured pearl production is still derived from wild oysters fished from the original pearling grounds discovered in the late 1800’s near Broome, Northwest Australia. Paspaley has as many as 40 professional pearl divers to fish its annual wild shell quota.

Paspaley’s expert pearl farmers are the guardians of these gems, painstakingly cleaning and caring for each oyster for as long as nine years, during which time, each oyster will produce no more than three cultured pearls.

Pearl grading

Of all precious gems the Australian South Sea pearl is one of the only jewels that can be displayed entirely in its natural state without the need for shaping, polishing or post-harvest treatment to achieve its beauty.

The quality of an Australian South Sea pearl is measured by five key characteristics known as the Five Virtues: lustre, complexion, shape, size and colour. Together, they identify the quality and beauty of an Australian South Sea pearl, with every pearl meticulously sorted and graded according to these virtues.

Sign up for
general site updates