Silver-Lipped Pearl Oyster

Part of the Pearls exhibition.

Pinctada maxima

The largest living pearl oyster, this species has been harvested for more than a century in the South Pacific for its mother-of-pearl. Though cultured as early as the late 1800s, these pearls became widely distributed only in the 1970s. In some areas, this oyster is known as the Gold-lipped Pearl Oyster, but biologists consider the Silver- and Gold-lipped Pearl Oysters as mere varieties of a single species. Modern pearl culturing emphasizes silver or white pearls in Australia and gold pearls in the Philippines, Myanmar and Japan.

Silver- or Golden-lipped Pearl OysterPinctada maxima (Jameson, 1901)

Size: 20-30 cm. This is the world's largest pearl oyster. Ranges naturally from the eastern Indian Ocean to the tropical western Pacific.






A single South Sea Pearlfrom the Silver-lipped pearl oyster

South Sea Pearls--white to gold, 10-18 mm. The largest cultured South Sea pearl is 24 mm (Paspaley Collection).