$1,000,000 for a strand of pearls? I nearly choked! But that's what this rare mega strand of South Sea cultured AAA quality pearls costs from Mikimoto, the original cultured pearl company. This limited edition piece is available from their New York branch.

South Sea cultured pearls are actually produced in Broome in north-western Australia and are prized for their lovely satiny lustre. Silver white for the Asian market is the most sought after. Another reason why they are so expensive is their size - these are 15.06 x 17.24 mm in diameter. The reason why these seawater cultured pearls grow so large in this part of the world is due to a combination of warm sea temperatures and nutrient-rich tidal flows which the oysters thrive on. Julie, an Aussie expartriate from Broome (she attended today's workshop) said one particular pearl she remembered when she worked for a pearl company there was 22 mm extra lovely South Sea pearl. It fetched $175,000!

The pearls in this strand are remarkably uniform. Just think how many oysters they had to go through to get a matching set! They also took much longer to cultivate than regular pearls - 10 years. The art deco oval clasp is adorned with 11.92 carats of diamonds. All these factors go towards its luxury price tag.

"South Seas" is a misnomer for Australian's northern coastline is technically not in the South Seas. But the founder of the Mikimoto company, Kokichi Mikimoto, one of the first people who thought Broome might be a great location for pearl farming, considered anything south of Japan, the South Seas. So the name stuck.

He also said, "I would like to adorn the necks of all the women of the world with pearls" and he certainly did for a great many of us because his company made pearls much more affordable than natural ones. However, if he were alive today, he wasn't referring to this strand!

Alas, I don't have a million dollars spare so it'll have to be freshwater pearls for this artisan!


NB This post has been submitted for ProBlogger's Killer Post Title competition.

Past Posts
In the Footsteps of a Pearl Dealer
Update on Cold Damage to Chinese Freshwater Pearls
Did Cleopatra swallow the pearl whole?
The Beading Gem's Journal