It is often said that ‘beauty is in the eye of the beholder’… and this is so true with Australian South Pearls. Being a natural gem each pearl is unique. Its natural features, or ‘virtues’ align to allure you towards a particular piece. Or does it... as it is often also said that ‘the pearl chooses you’!
Unlike diamonds, there is no universal system for grading pearls. Different producers have their own systems in place, however, the grading of pearls is always based on the combination of five virtues: size, shape, colour, complexion and lustre.
Australian South Sea pearls are the largest of all pearls, typically ranging from 10mm to 16mm. Larger sizes exceeding this are rare. The larger the size typically greater the value, but size is only one of the five virtues used to consider a pearl’s value. (Pearls below not shown to scale).
The shape of a pearl does not affect its quality, however it does impact on value. Perfectly round pearls are particularly desirable, and hence considered the most valuable of all shapes.
The colour of a pearl is defined by the type of oyster used to produce it. Australian South Sea pearls, produced in the Pinctada maxima oyster are typically white, silver-white or silver in colour. They can also be gold, however Australian South Sea Pearls in a strong gold colour are rare. Colour is a very personal choice, although white pearls with pink overtones tend to be the most sought after.
Complexion refers to the quality of the surface of the pearl; the number and size of the makings and their visibility. Being a natural gem, a pearl with flawless surface is exceptionally rare.
Lustre is the most important characteristic of pearl quality. Lustre describes the luminous quality of the pearl’s surface; the way the light reflects and refracts from the layers of nacre to produce a ‘glow’ appearing to be coming from within the pearl.