Nature’s most wondrous organic gem emerges from the oyster radiant with enduring splendour, just as nature intended. The natural beauty of Paspaley Australian South Sea pearls is unrivalled.

The destiny of each pearl is in the hands of our highly accomplished pearl graders. Specialists in their field, they assess each pearl individually, meticulously scrutinising each one by 'The Five Virtues’: Lustre. Complexion. Shape. Colour. Size. It is a combination of these virtues that determines the worth of each pearl. Our quality standards and rigorous grading techniques ensure that only the most remarkable and beautiful pearls are hand picked for Paspaley jewellery.

Watch the 5 virtues of a pearl film
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Discover the time honoured methods traditionally used to assess the value of pearls through our interactive Five Virtues tool.

Pearl Lustre
  • Poor A dim reflection and chalky appearance indicates thin or poor quality nacre
  • Fair A cloudy appearance with hazy or blurred reflection indicates coarse nacre
  • Good Bright reflections with a soft satin smooth appearance indicates fine quality nacre
  • Very Good An alluring brilliance from a sharp inner glow indicates superior quality nacre
  • Excellent A distinct luminosity and mirror like reflection indicates rare gem quality pearl nacre

1 / Lustre

The magic of a pearl lies in its lustre. Though difficult to illustrate, lustre is the most important characteristic of pearl quality that is instantly recognisable.

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Pearl Complexion
  • Heavily spotted Many blemishes on the pearl's surface
  • Moderately spotted Moderate blemishes on the pearl's surface
  • Lightly spotted A few light blemishes on the pearl's surface
  • Clean A flawless pearl surface or one with minute blemishes that are barely visible

2 / Complexion

A pearl with a flawless surface is exceptionally rare. Pearl quality is influenced by the number and size of imperfections and their degree of visibility. Clearly noticeable imperfections will significantly compromise a pearl's allure and value

Pearl Shape
  • Drop
  • Oval
  • Round
  • Button
  • Baroque

3 / Shape

A pearl's shape does not affect its quality; the demand for a particular shape, however, does have a bearing on value. Pearls of perfect symmetry such as round and tear-drop shapes are particularly rare and desirable. Ultimately, beauty lies in the eye of the beholder and selection of shape is a personal choice.

Shape Features

  • shape-circle-thumb Circle

  • shape-keshi-thumb Keshi

Pearls Colour
  • Gold
  • Champagne
  • Cream
  • White
  • White
  • Silver
  • Silver

4 / Colour

The wide array of natural colours of Australian South Sea pearls typically mirror the overtones of the pearl shell. Colour, like shape, is a very personal choice and the popularity of a particular hue influences a pearl's value. Australian South Sea pearls are typically white, silver, cream or gold. White with pink overtones is the most prized colour.

Pearl Size
  • Small
  • Medium
  • Large

5 / Size

Australian South Sea pearls have very thick pearl nacre and are the largest of all pearls, typically ranging from 11mm to 16mm. Larger sizes exceeding 20mm are occasionally found and such pearls are highly prized. Larger pearls are typically more valuable due to their greater rarity but size is only one of the 5 Virtues used to consider a pearl's value. Pearls are measured in millimetres by width.

Note: Illustrations are approximately to scale

The story

The rare Pinctada maxima oyster, the king of all pearl oysters, produces pearls of incomparable quality and size. Nature bestows an infinite myriad of shapes, colours and sizes that make each pearl unique.

Ranging in size from the delightfully petite to pearls of majestic proportions; from the perfect symmetry of a classical round to the stunning originality of the baroque; and colour assortments from delicate palettes of white, to subtle silvers and rich golds.

Lustre is unquestionably the most important characteristic of pearl quality. The depth and radiance of enduring lustre is a natural attribute without which a pearl is deemed of no value.

A fine quality pearl with natural colour and lustre is infinitely more rare and beautiful than any pearl that has been treated to enhance its appearance. Paspaley does not artificially enhance its pearls or compromise quality in any way; every Paspaley Australian South Sea pearl emerges from the oyster with an enduring radiance as nature intended. It is this innate beauty that sets Paspaley pearls apart from other pearls.

On rare occasions nature produces a pearl of sublime, incomparable beauty, clearly distinguishable amongst other fine quality pearls. These unique gems are reserved for Paspaley’s finest strands and bespoke jewellery designs. Such is the rarity of these pearls that finding a perfect match can take many harvests; pearl connoisseurs claim that the world’s yearly supply can be held in one cupped hand.  

Nature's Miracle Artistry