Gold- precious, rare, an emblem of excellence. Since time immemorial, we as humans have been drawn to gold, not only for its intrinsic value but also for its beauty. It sparkles and glimmers with all the warmth of the sun. As a color, it is imbued with profound meaning in different cultures. It’s no accident then, that of all the different types of pearls, it is the golden South Sea pearl that seems to captivate us the most.
An organic gem produced by the Pinctada maxima oyster, the cultured golden South Sea pearl is mainly harvested in the Philippines and Indonesia. South Sea pearl oysters with gold color on their lips usually produce golden pearls. As a result, pearl farms carefully select and breed South Sea pearl oysters with this characteristic, so that they produce these gleaming gold pearls.
It takes almost five years, from hatchery to harvest, for a golden South Sea oyster to produce a pearl. What’s more, pearl farmers nucleate these oysters with only one bead, so that each oyster produces only one pearl. This is in stark contrast to Freshwater pearls, where each mollusc can produce up to 50 pearls upon harvest. Golden South Sea pearls are rare and special. What’s more it takes incredible hard work, dedication, and patience to produce these gorgeous gems.
Jewelry lovers covet golden South Sea pearls most especially for their golden color, and these pearls come in a range of natural hues, tones and color saturations. From light gold and champagne to deep gold,* there is a color to suit every preference and skin tone. Nevertheless, pearls of a deeper, more saturated hue usually command higher prices as compared to those with lighter tones. Golden South Sea pearls also display a host of attractive overtones such as silver, pink, gold and green. The presence of these secondary colors, on top of the gold body color, makes these pearls very attractive.
In addition, these pearls are renowned for their size. On average, a typical harvest will yield pearls ranging from 9mm to 14mm but it is possible to find pearls that measure 20mm or above. As with other pearls, larger golden South Seas sell at a premium as compared to smaller pearls.
Luster, is an important determining factor for the value of a pearl. Luster depends upon the thickness of nacre and how light interacts with it. Top quality golden South Sea pearls usually have a nacre thickness of 1.5mm to 2mm, which gives them their distinctive soft, satiny luster. Golden pearls that are luminous seem to have an ethereal glow, a feature that further enhances their golden color.
Set in fine or high jewelry, golden South Sea pearls elevate a piece with their singular beauty and charm. More often than not, these pearls are mounted in yellow gold, which brings out the richness of their hues. Set in a surround of diamonds, it is almost impossible to resist the enchantment of this resplendent gem.
It all comes down to gold, the color that has enraptured us since forever. A symbol of wealth and power, we have long been fascinated by this color. When distilled into a pearl, the result is unimaginably alluring- like holding drops of sunshine in your hands. As gems go, there are few that rival the sheer delight that is a golden South Sea pearl.
*The rare, very intense, deep gold color of South Sea pearls is sometimes referred to as 24 karat, since it closely matches the distinct color of pure and unalloyed 24 karat gold.