Those in the know come directly to Rafael Osona Auctions for exceptional value in fine South Sea, Tahitian and freshwater pearls. We source our hand-selected, 11-18mm pearls directly from the farms – no middleman!

We’re delighted to pass along the impressive savings; which is exactly what successful bidders do, returning time and again to acquire more exquisite pearls for friends and family.

With an eye for craftsmanship and style, we have interest in representing fine estate jewelry from Bvlgari, Tiffany, Cartier, Gucci, Chanel, Hermès and more, plus stunning custom made diamond and gemstone settings, along with fine timepieces from Patek Philippe, Piaget, Rolex, Raymond Weil, Van Cleef & Arpels and more.


Pearl Basics

  1. Natural or cultured?  Freshwater, Akoya, South Sea and Tahitian pearls these days are pretty much all cultured.  Natural pearls? Over fished and endangered. There might be one single harvestable natural pearl in every 100 bivalves, and only one in ten of those are of good quality.
  2. “Every grain of sand” is a title/lyric from Bob Dylan. Sand’s got nothing what so ever to do with culturing pearls. Each pearl begins with the insertion (nucleation) of a tiny piece of mantle from a sacrificed mollusk (fresh water pearls) or a small bead of mother-of-pearl. (South Sea and Tahitian)
  3. It’s natural! The oyster secretes layers of nacre around the insertion.  It’s the depth of nacre – the layers are like growth rings on a tree – that determines luster and value.
  4. The big difference: multiple insertions can be made in each mussel for freshwater pearls. The salt-water variety gets just one bead inserted per oyster.
  5. One pearl. Five years. South Sea and Tahitian oysters that are at least 2 years of age are ready to be cultured, with nacre development lasting another 2-3 years before the pearl is harvested.
  6. Remember Mikimoto? They’re the folks who helped set the standards for Japan’s Akoya saltwater pearl culture back in the early 1900s, when cultured pearls became coveted by the rich & famous!  Pearls came to symbolize classic beauty, purity and love.

Spotting the best pearls is easy!  Look for luster, brightness and as near a perfectly smooth finish as your budget will allow.  Salt-water pearls have more value than fresh water.  Larger South Sea and Tahitian pearls (11-18mm) with thicker nacre took 2-5 years longer to form, which is reflected in the value.  Always look for carefully matched strings – in both color and shape.

Did you know? Pearls are “calcareous concretions” that develop in the soft tissue of a living animal. Calcareous concretions are produced by a variety of animal types, gastropods, squid, octopi, snails, worms, arthropods – even humans! The human version of a “pearl” is a kidney stone.


We are always seeking fine quality consignments to include in our sales.

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Recent Examples at Auction