South Sea Loose Pearls

South Sea Pearls are found on the north-west coast of Western Australia, principally from Broome to Darwin, but also to the South and North of those areas. They are also farmed in the Northern Territory,North Queensland, Indonesia, the Phillipines and Burma.

South Sea pearls are on average the largest pearls in the world, coming from the largest oyster, Pinctada Maxima. The also develop the thickest nacre coating of all cultured nucleated pearls - from 2 to 6 millimeters. As a result they are also the most expensive - on average around 25% more than Tahitian pearls and Japanese Akoya pearls and several times more than freshwater pearls.

South Sea pearls can be purchased loose and undrilled. If you are thinking of investing in loose pearls it is best to buy large (11mm+) round gem grade pearls as these are flawless and unlikely to ever lose their value because of their rarity. Below you will find a selection of loose pearls available for purchase. You will find a wide selection of loose South Sea cultured pearls and keshi when you make an appointment to visit us at our 'Pearl Studio' in Mornington.

If you intend to set the pearls Tiare has a wide selection of "findings" (settings) in 18 carat and 9 carat white or yellow gold (and some in sterling silver). Once you have chosen your pearl you may choose a finding (setting) at our 'Pearl Studio'. Tiare will drill and assemble your pearl and finding free of charge on site while you wait or deliver or post to you within five working days.

The chart below lists the usual retail prices for South Sea pearls (white, silver or gold) before discount. Please take 33% off all the prices below to arrive at your final price. All loose pearls are 50% off our normal retail prices.

Price Chart for Loose South Seas Pearls

The chart lists the price of round pearls. For Semi-baroque (drop, button, circle) pearls deduct 25% and for Baroque pearls deduct 50% of the stated price.

Interpreting the Pearl Chart

When assessing the value of a pearl the following factors need to be considered:

1. Shape: Pearl shapes fall three main categories: Round, Semi-baroque and Baroque. Round pearls allow for <0.2mm distortion i.e. semi-round. Semi-baroque are non-round pearls but are symettrical and have an even surface. They come in various shapes, including teardrop, pear, button and circled. Baroque pearls are an irregular shape and sometimes uneven surface.

Generally speaking round pearls are 25% more valuable than semi-baroque pearls and 50% more valuable than baroque pearls.

2. Size: Pearl prices tend to increase for each millimetre in diameter. Large pearls of 16mm+ are considered rare and extremely valuable.

3. Lustre and Iridescence: Lustre is the play of light off the surface of the pearl and iridescence is the play of light emanating from the depth of the pearl. A pearl with a high lustre and iridescence is seen by most people as more desirable but may not necessarily affect the value of the pearl.

4. Colour: Pearls can exhibit a hugh range of colours depending on the oyster of origin. Colour is generally a personal decision and can depend on the hair and skin colour of the wearer - ligher shade colours often suit Anglo-Saxons better and darker colours people with olive skin. In Tahiti the colour "peacock green" is seen as very desirable whereas in Australia a silver white pearl with pink or blue undertones is much prized.

Cultured pearls come in various shapes, including round, semi-round, baroque (irregular shape), semi-baroque (drop, button, oval or pearl shapes), circled and keshi (small irregular shaped pearls with no nucleus). They are graded from Gem quality (perfect) through A, B, C and D grades.

5. Surface Quality: Generally the "cleaner" the surface of the pearl the more valuable it is.
Tiare Black Pearl uses the Tahitian grading system (combined with pearl size and shape) for pricing its pearls:

Gem Quality

Flawless pearl. Excellent lustre.

Category A

Pearl without imperfections on at least 90% of its surface. On the 10% remaining the pearl may exhibit small concentrated flaws and one deep imperfection at most. Minimum very good lustre.

Category B

Pearl without imperfections on at least 70% of its surface. On the 30% remaining the pearl may exhibit slight concentrated flaws and two imperfections at most. Minimum good lustre.

Category C

Pearl without imperfections on at least 40% of its surface. On the 60% remaining the pearl may present slight concentrated flaws and 10% deep imperfections at most. Minimum average lustre.

Category D

Pearl with slight imperfections on over 60% of its surface with 20% deep imperfections and/or white spots at most. Minimum weak lustre.