Other Cook Islands Pearls

The cultured black pearl is not the only type of pearl growing in the Cook Islands. Farmers use the Pinctada Margaritifera oyster to also cultivate the Mabe and Keshi pearls although on a much smaller scale than the cultured black pearls. Pipi pearls are “wild” occurring naturally on only one island in the northern Cooks group. None of these types of pearls are available to purchase through CIPA’s Pearl Exchange, but enquiries may be made to CIPA for a direct contact to a supplier.

Keshi pearl: When a mantle tissue is implanted into the P. margaritifera oyster instead of a nucleus, either by accident or purposely, a smaller pearl is formed of various shapes, sizes and colours.  Keshi pearls are very popular and can attain high values.
Pipi pearl: This is an unique and natural pearl from the much smaller gold-lipped Pinctada maculata oyster which grows in abundance only in the Tongareva lagoon of the northern Cook Islands. Pearl sizes are normally small but can grow to 8-9mm. Colours come in stunning hues of gold. Pipi pearls are not farmed, are rare, attain high values and are traded direct by collectors in Tongareva.
Mabe pearl: A “blister” pearl grown from half of a nucleus glued to the internal surface of the P. margaritifera oyster shell. The shape varies depending on the shape of the nucleus. The blister is cut off, processed and made into pendants, earrings and other jewellery.
Mabe pearl jewellery example.