AUSTRALIAN SOUTH SEA CULTURED PEARLS
The most revered and highly prized pearl in the world, the Australian South Sea Pearl is cultured in the Pinctada maxima oyster from the pristine coastal waters of northern Western Australia. The perfect marine environment, combined with the most modern pearling techniques and practices, combine to produce the largest and finest quality pearl. The result of an intricate operation in which the oyster over a period of two years coats a spherical nucleus with a substance known as ‘nacre’, the Australian South Sea pearl, due primarily to the thickness of this coating, has a natural lustre unequalled by any other pearl. They range in size from 9mm to 20mm, however pearls over 16mm are rare.
Keshi Pearls are as close as we get to natural pearl from the farm environment. These very individual pearls are usually irregular in shape and are priced by weight as opposed to size. The international term keshi means ‘poppy seed’ in Japanese, and is a reference to the small size of these pearls, which are seldom more than a few millimetres in diameter. Keshi pearls are popular because they are made of solid nacre and usually have a bright lustre. Their irregular shape can be a stimulus and challenge to jewellery designers and some of the most innovative jewellery is made using them.
Mabe (pronounced Mar-bay) are known as half-pearls or blister pearls. They are made by glueing several hemispherical plastic beads to the inside of pearl oyster shells. The half pearls are cut from the shell using a diamond-tipped hole saw and the nucleus is removed. The half pearl now resembles half an empty egg shell. The inside is then scraped to remove any organic stain and is then filled with resin made with crushed pearl shell. A round disc, also cut from the shell, is then glued to the back to complete the mabe pearl. The size of mabe pearls varies from 12 to 20 millimetres in diameter.
SOUTH SEA CULTURED PEARLS
South Sea Cultured Pearls refer to pearls grown and sourced from other regions outside of Australia where the Pinctada maxima oyster can still be nurtured to create beautiful pearls. Willie Creek Pearls have a selection of these pearls, enabling us to present a complete range of jewellery styles, across a range of prices, to our customers.
Tahitian pearls are favoured amongst many for their range of vibrant hues. They are formed from the black lip oyster (Pinctada Margaritifera) and are native to the French Polynesian area. These magnificent pearls portray an incredible array of iridescent colours ranging from greens, silvers, purple and rose. Matching these pearls into a beautiful strand can be quite difficult requiring hundreds of loose pearls to create a single strand due to their vast colour range.
Freshwater Pearls are grown in freshwater lakes, rivers, and ponds predominantly in China. Often small and irregularly shaped, these pearls are the product of an elaborate process in which tiny tissue grafts are implanted into the thick mantle of a live mussel. Freshwater pearls can be created through natural means in a spectrum of colours, however it is widely accepted practice to treat or irradiate Freshwater pearls in order to achieve a particular colour. Freshwater pearls represent outstanding value and often make the perfect pearl gift.
Pearls, often generically referred to as ‘gold pearls’, can range from a yellow-type colour through to a strong gold colour. Gold pearls are still grown in the Pinctada Maxima oyster. Gold Australian South Sea Pearls, particularly in a strong rich gold colour, are very rare. The majority of the gold pearls you see are grown either in the Philippines, Indonesia or Myanmar (and hence referred to as South Sea Pearls) where the water tends to be warmer.