The Philippine Pearl - Palawan Gypsies

gypsies of the sea

No one understands the ancient nature of pearls quite like the Badjao, sea gypsies who sail the Sulu-Sulawesi Seas across three nations and who make their living from its aquatic bounty.

The gentle Badjaos brave staggering depths using the simplest tools to retrieve wild oysters and natural pearls nestled within. This is the origin of the parent oysters in Jewelmer’s own hatchery.

Historically, Palawan is also part of an ancient trade route called the Pearl Road where Chinese merchants traded with the Badjao, sea-faring nomads for pearls. This tradition continues today, in Jewelmer’s pearl farms, where biologists coax these living gems from the Pinctada maxima oyster.

gypsies of the sea

No one understands the ancient nature of pearls quite like the Badjao, sea gypsies who sail the Sulu-Sulawesi Seas across three nations and who make their living from its aquatic bounty.

The gentle Badjaos brave staggering depths using the simplest tools to retrieve wild oysters and natural pearls nestled within. This is the origin of the parent oysters in Jewelmer’s own hatchery.

Historically, Palawan is also part of an ancient trade route called the Pearl Road where Chinese merchants traded with the Badjao, sea-faring nomads for pearls. This tradition continues today, in Jewelmer’s pearl farms, where biologists coax these living gems from the Pinctada maxima oyster.

The Philippine Pearl - Palawan Gypsies

Palawan provenance

For over two generations, Jewelmer has coaxed the finest South Sea pearls into existence at its state-of-the-art pearl farms in Southern Palawan.

The Philippines’ “last frontier” boasts an environment that has remained largely pristine, allowing pearls to grow in peace and perfection. It is a jewel sustained by respect for nature and harmony with the world.

The Pearl - Palawan Provenance - The Philippine Pearl

the pearl

Jewelmer is a pioneer pearl producer that has successfully cultivated pearls with a rich, natural golden color. Through decades of research and biotechnology, Jewelmer has perfected the breeding process that produces gold-lipped Pinctada maxima pearl oysters capable of growing large, lustrous, golden pearls. This deep gold color is characteristic of the South Sea pearls produced in the Philippines.

miracle of the golden pearl

Each pearl is the result of a process that is part science and part miracle. Through decades of research and biotechnology, Jewelmer has perfected the breeding process that produces gold-lipped Pinctada maxima pearl oysters capable of growing large, lustrous, golden pearls. This deep gold color characteristic of the South Sea pearls only produced in the Philippines. The final quality of each pearl, however, is dependent on the indulgence of Mother Nature. 

environmental gem

“The pearl is an indicator of the health of the planet. Upon its lustrous surface, every typhoon, every change in water temperature, every current caused by a dynamite blast, and every nuance in the cleanliness of the water is recorded. It falls on the highly-skilled pearl farmer to act as a steward of creation. That’s why sharing with clients and helping them understand pearls and their relationship with nature is important.”

– Jacques Branellec, Group President & CEO.

environmental gem

“The pearl is an indicator of the health of the planet. Upon its lustrous surface, every typhoon, every change in water temperature, every current caused by a dynamite blast, and every nuance in the cleanliness of the water is recorded. It falls on the highly-skilled pearl farmer to act as a steward of creation. That’s why sharing with clients and helping them understand pearls and their relationship with nature is important.”

– Jacques Branellec, Group President & CEO.

a nation’s pride

In 1996, President Fidel V. Ramos concretized the pearl’s role in Philippine culture through the Presidential Proclamation No. 905, acknowledging the South Sea pearl’s part in the country’s socio-economic and cultural tradition.

The pearl - golden south sea pearls

pearl production process

Born out of living organisms known as mollusks, pearls are the only living gems in the world.
Jewelmer’s unique pearl farming process spans four to five years and takes 377 individual steps to sustainably produce a single Jewelmer pearl.

golden south sea pearl - process

hatchery

After more than 20 years of research, Jewelmer pioneered the first hatchery-born oysters to avoid depleting wild oyster beds and to vastly improve the quality of the cultured pearls.  Parent oysters with the right qualities are carefully selected and chosen to breed the perfect golden pearl-producing oyster.

golden south sea pearl - process

grafting

A trained master grafter inserts a bead nucleus, together with a piece of mantle from a chosen donor oyster, into the gonad of the parent oyster. As time passes, the mantle will become a pearl sac that encapsulates the nucleus and deposit layers of crystals that will become the pearl.

The pearl - post-operation

post operation

Following the grafting, the oysters are placed in baskets and allowed to convalesce for a period of three months.

golden south sea pearl - process

cultivation period

Two to three years pass as the pearl oyster deposit layers of nacre around the inserted nuclei. During this period, oysters are placed in baskets, which are regularly turned and cleaned to ensure the health of the mollusk.

golden south sea pearl - process

harvest

The harvest is the magical moment in which the master grafter who performed the initial operation harvests a pearl after 4 to 5 of years patient care.  A lustrous pearl is extracted from the oyster and a living gem is born. The master grafter then decides if the oyster is suitable for a second operation before the next grafting begins.

cultured pearls

The pearl is a bio-crystal which is the result of the transformation of a soft living tissue from a living organism into a unique mineral composed of multitude of aragonite crystal layers. Those crystals will arrange beside each other in multiple concentric layers. The arrangement of those layers will create a unique optical effect.

cultured pearls

The pearl is a bio-crystal which is the result of the transformation of a soft living tissue from a living organism into a unique mineral composed of multitude of aragonite crystal layers. Those crystals will arrange beside each other in multiple concentric layers. The arrangement of those layers will create a unique optical effect.

pearl value factors

Color

Philippine South Sea pearls are produced by gold-lipped Pinctada Maxima oysters and come in warm, natural colors that range from white, crème rose, champagne, and deep, rich gold.

The pearl - golden south sea pearls

Shape

Shape is one of the distinguishing characteristics of pearls. Philippine South Sea pearls come in different shapes including drop, oval, button, baroque, semi-baroque or circled, with round being the rarest.
Keshis are non-nucleated, irregularly shaped pearls that are produced serendipitously during the culturing process in the same oyster with the South Sea pearl.

The Pearl - The Philippine Pearl Shape

Size

Philippine South Sea pearls are the largest in the world with their diameter ranging from 10mm to 12mm on average and as big as 16mm and up, on very rare occasions.

Skin Purity

A gem created by nature, the surface of the Philippine South Sea pearl sometimes possesses irregularities on its surface. While having a flawless surface is ideal, these “imperfections” are part of a pearl’s natural characteristics that are used to authenticate them.

The pearl - golden south sea pearls

Luster

A Philippine South Sea pearl possesses a rich luster that is created by a combination of its outer sheen and surface brilliance, which enhances the inner glow of the wearer.

For pearl experts, another more prized quality of the Palawan South Sea pearl is its unique Orient, or the inner glow of the pearl. The Orient is created by a refraction of light as it penetrates through regular layers of aragonite crystals reflected from the core and bounced back to its surface, giving it a fiery rainbow-like effect.

Thge pearl - golden south sea pearls

book publications

The Pearl Road - Jewelmer Philippine Pearl

Pearl Road

Rediscover the magnificent and historic pearl trade routes in the incredible tale of the Pandanan Wreck, as told in The Pearl Road: A Tale of Treasure Ships in the Philippines by Christophe Loviny.

The Ultimate Orient - Philippine South Sea Pearls

Ultimate Orient

Get a fish-eye view of the world of the beautiful Philippine South Sea Pearl, and how its creation is a grand and harmonious collaboration between man and nature in The Ultimate Orient, Philippine South Sea Pearls, featuring the underwater lensman Scott Tuason.

The Ultimate Orient - The Philippine Pearl

The Ultimate Orient (biography)

With expressive detail, Jacques Branellec shares with the reader his more than four-decade long physical and spiritual journey from the occident to the orient, where he finally discovers the Ultimate Orient.

The pearl - golden south sea pearls

Golden Book

The Miracle of the Golden Pearl posits this living gem as the centerpiece of collections from storied jewelry houses around the world.  It also takes readers on a journey back to its exotic provenance in the crystal blue waters of Palawan, Philippines.

Learn more about Pearls

View our Pearl Glossary