May 24, 2024

Pure Pearls Weekly Newsletter: Inside White South Sea Pearl Farming



Pure Pearls Weekly Newsletter


 "Some give up under pressure, while others rise up and undergo life-transforming experiences. Oyster responds beautifully to external pressure, giving birth to a priceless pearl." – Mukhtar Aziz 


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Pure Inspiration: White South Sea and Japanese Akoya Pearl and Yellow & White Diamond Cocktail Ring, 18K Gold, Jewelry by J Zheng



White South Sea and Japanese Akoya Pearl and Yellow & White Diamond Cocktail Ring, 18K Gold

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Jewelry by J Zheng


Pearl Science, News and FAQs - Your Questions, Answered!




Inside White South Sea Pearl Farming: Selection of White South Sea Pearls

A stunning selection of Round, Button and Baroque White South Sea pearls by Paspaley Pearls, Australia.

The Queen of Cultured Pearls, White South Seas, shine with a luminous glow and the Silvery-White colors of the full moon. Due to their large sizes, completely natural colors and iridescent Orient, this pearl type is indisputably the sovereign of all cultured pearls. 
White South Sea pearls are cultured in the warm, tropical waters of the Indian Ocean, primarily in Australia. However, there are pearl farms in the Philippine Islands and Indonesia that also create these glowing gems from the sea. 
The pioneering work in pearl culturing began in Japan in the early 20th century with the creation of the first cultured Akoya pearls by Kokichi Mikimoto. This innovation laid the groundwork for further developments in pearl farming, including the cultivation of South Sea pearls.
In the 1950s, these techniques were adapted to the Pinctada maxima oyster, which produces the larger, more lustrous South Sea pearls. Japan played a crucial role in transferring the technology and expertise required for culturing pearls to other regions, and in fact Japanese pearl technicians still occupy some of the most important positions at the biggest South Sea pearl farms in the world today.

South Sea Pearl Farm Map
White South Sea pearls are primarily cultured in Northwestern Australia, primarily around Broome and Kuri Bay, which features thousands of protected lagoons and calm waters.

White South Sea Pearl Farm Willie Creek

Photo of the Willie Creek South Sea pearl farm area, a smaller pearl farming operation situated in pristine waters along the coast of The Kimberley, Australia.


During the 1950s and 1960s, the practice of culturing South Sea pearls spread to Australia and Indonesia, regions with ideal conditions for pearl farming due to their warm, nutrient-rich waters. Australian pearl farmers, particularly those in the Kimberley region, began experimenting with cultured pearls using the Pinctada maxima oyster. 

By the 1970s, South Sea pearl farming had become well-established in Australia and Indonesia. The pearls gained international recognition for their exceptional size, luster, and quality, distinguishing them from other types of cultured pearls. Australian pearls in particular are famous for their bright, Silvery-White colors and dazzling iridescent Orient. 

Learn more about Pearl History here: https://www.purepearls.com/pages/pearl-origins-history-of-cultured-pearls

South Sea Pearl Farming Oysters in Nets Longlines

Most pearl farms in Australia use wild caught oysters fished from the native oyster beds in the ocean to breed for their pearling stock.
Wild oyster fishing involves collecting mature Pinctada maxima oysters from their natural underwater habitats. This practice is crucial for sustaining native oyster populations as it helps maintain genetic diversity within cultured oyster stocks.
Once in the hatchery, oysters are induced to spawn. The larvae, or spat, are collected and carefully nurtured in controlled conditions. This phase ensures a steady and sustainable supply of young oysters, reducing the need for continuous wild collection. Hatcheries simulate natural conditions to encourage growth until the spat are ready to be transferred to the ocean.

Paspaley Pearling Yacht
Paspaley Pearls operates numerous permanent pearl farming operations on the open ocean to keep an eye on the growing pearls and oysters.

Once the spat are robust enough, they are moved to ocean farms. These farms are typically located in pristine, nutrient-rich waters, ideal for oyster growth. The young oysters are placed in protective baskets or nets and suspended from longlines to grow and mature.
After approximately two years, the mature oysters undergo a surgical procedure called nucleation or seeding.
A skilled technician makes a small incision in the oyster and inserts a bead nucleus and a small piece of mantle tissue from another oyster. This process stimulates the oyster to form a pearl sac around the nucleus and start secreting nacre (mother-of-pearl) layers.
Post-nucleation, the oysters are returned to the sea in their protective baskets. They require meticulous care during this period, which lasts around two years.
Farmers regularly clean the oysters and monitor their health, ensuring they are free from predators and diseases. The clean, nutrient-rich waters enable the oysters to secrete layer upon layer of nacre, gradually forming a pearl.

Nicholas Paspaley South Sea Pearl Harvest

Nicholas Paspaley of Paspaley Pearls sorts through a fresh harvest of White South Sea pearls.


Harvesting the pearls is a process steeped in patience and precision. After approximately two years, the oysters are carefully opened, and the pearls are extracted. Each pearl is a unique creation, and their quality is assessed based on several factors, including luster, size, shape, color, and surface quality. Only the finest pearls are selected, ensuring that each piece of jewelry meets the highest standards.

Depending on the conditions and health of the oyster, it may be reseeded to produce another two or even three pearls, getting successively larger with each nucleation.

The pearls undergo a gentle cleaning process to remove any remaining organic material. They may also be lightly polished to enhance their natural luster. However, high-quality South Sea pearls typically require minimal processing due to their naturally beautiful appearance.        

The finest pearls are set into exquisite jewelry designs. Expert jewelers craft these pieces, often combining the pearls with precious metals and other gemstones to create luxurious jewelry. 

Learn more about South Sea Pearl Grading here: https://www.purepearls.com/pages/south-sea-pearls-grading


Nicholas Paspaley with White South Sea Pearl Necklace Nicholas Paspaley showcases an exceptional strand of White South Sea pearls finished with a couture diamond pavé and Pink Sapphire clasp in the shape of a flower.


The largest and most notable White South Sea pearl farms are primarily located in Australia, Indonesia, and the Philippines. These regions are renowned for their optimal conditions for cultivating the Pinctada maxima oyster, which produces the highly coveted White South Sea pearls. Here are some of the biggest and most well-known farms operating today:
Paspaley Pearling Company (Australia)
The Paspaley Pearling Company is one of the largest and most prestigious pearl producers globally. Founded in the 1930s, Paspaley operates extensive pearl farms along the northern coast of Australia, particularly in the Kimberley region. They are recognized for their high-quality pearls and significant contributions to sustainable pearling practices.
Autore Pearling (Australia & Indonesia)
Autore is another major player in the South Sea pearl industry, with a strong presence in Australia. They operate several pearl farms across Northern Australia as well as Indonesia, focusing on producing top-quality White and Golden South Sea pearls, as well as black Tahitians, and is also dedicated to supporting sustainable and ethical farming practices. Autore is known for their luxury jewelry and high standards of pearl grading.

Autore Pearl Farm in Lombok
The Autore Pearl farm located in Lombok, Indonesia in a protected lagoon of the Timor Sea.
Autore White South Sea Baroque Pearl Necklace
An absolutely stunning Silvery-Blue White South Sea Baroque Pearl Rope Necklace finished with a Hot Pink Sapphire and Diamond floral clasp in Rose Gold by Autore.

Atlas Pearls and Perfumes (Australia and Indonesia)
Atlas Pearls operates significant pearl farms in both Australia and Indonesia, primarily on the islands of Bali and Flores in Indonesia and the waters off the Northern Territory in Australia. They are recognized for their innovative farming techniques and commitment to environmental sustainability. Atlas Pearls is also noted for their unique pearl perfumes.
Cygnet Bay Pearls (Australia)
Cygnet Bay Pearls is one of the oldest pearl farms in Australia, located in the remote Kimberley region. Established in 1946, it remains a family-owned business and is renowned for producing high-quality South Sea pearls. Cygnet Bay Pearls is also dedicated to sustainable farming and community development.

Sunset at Cygnet Bay South Sea Pearl Farm
An Australian sunset at the Cygnet Bay Pearl Farm in Broome.

White South Sea Pearls from Cygnet Bay Pearl Farm Australia
A sorting tray filled with an assortment of White South Sea cultured pearls from the family-owned Cygnet Bay Pearl Farm in Australia. Long live the Queen!

These farms (and more!) are key players in the South Sea pearl industry, contributing significantly to the global supply of these exquisite gems. Each farm emphasizes quality, sustainability, and ethical practices, ensuring that their pearls are not only beautiful but also responsibly produced.

White South Sea Pearl Necklaces by PurePearls.com

Pure Pearls is proud to purchase our White South Sea pearls from a wide variety of pearl farms and pearl processors overseas in Australia, Indonesia and the Philippine Islands. 

Whether your pearls come from a large pearling operation, or a smaller, family-owned co-op, we select each pearl necklace or loose pearl with a meticulous eye, buying only the highest quality pearls we can find for your luxury South Sea pearl jewelry. 

I hope this "inside look" at some of the more famous pearl farming operations in Australia was enjoyable! 
Until next time ...



Ashley M.


The PurePearls.com Wishlist: Weekly Pearl Jewelry Spotlight 



Pure Pearls Weekly Product Spotlight: White South Sea Erica Pearl & Diamond Eternity Pendant 



This graceful Eternity Pendant features a smooth, sinuous outline, flowing down to a glowing White South Sea Pearl. Each of our White South Sea pearls arrive direct from the tropical atolls of Northern Australia, and shine with gorgeous glowing luster. The rare White South Sea pearl is known the world over as being one of the largest and most beautiful in the world.

Each cultured White South Sea pearl is AAA Quality, 11.0mm, and has been hand-selected for its glowing luster, perfectly round shape and flattering pastel hues. Choose 14K White or Sterling Silver with matching chain. Your new South Sea Eternity Pearl Pendant arrives in our Signature Little Black Gift Box along with a Certificate of Authenticity and Pearl Care Instructions to keep your jewelry looking gorgeous for a lifetime.


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