Rare Melo Pearls


One of the most wondrous products of nature is the creation of a natural pearl by a mollusc. This fortuitious event occurs so rarely in nature that virtually all of the true pearls sold for jewelry are cultured pearls, which are created when the pearl formation process is instigated by man, by the insertion of a pearl nucleus into the mollusc.

Natural Melo Pearl, Burma

Though all completely natural pearls are rare,  there are some especially rare varieties which are treasured by collectors. They include the Conch pearl (from the Lobatus gigas sea snail) and the Melo pearl (from the Melo volute). 

Melo Volute Shell
Melo Volute Shell

Melo pearls do not come from an oyster or clam, but are formed in the shell of a very large sea snail belonging to the gastropod mollusc species known as Volutidae. The genus Melo is also commonly known as the Indian volute or "bailer shell", since the very large shells were used to bail water from canoes.

Unlike common pearls, Melo pearls are not formed from layers of nacre. The chemical composition of the Melo pearl is calcite and aragonite. But while Melo pearls are non-nacreous, they are formed in the same way as more common pearls. It may take as long as several decades to grow a Melo pearl of significant size.

Melo pearls are found only in Southeast Asia, including China, Vietnam, Myanmar, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines.

Melo pearls can be quite large and occur in a variety of shapes. The color of the pearls range from tan to dark brown, with orange being the most desirable color. They have a hardness of about 5 on the Mohs scale.

These pearls exhibit a porcelain-like luster that make them very attractive. The surface may also display a silky flame-like structure that makes a Melo pearl especially valuable.

We have recently acquired 3 rare Melo Pearls, with the largest (pictured above) at 22.11 carats. You can view our collection on our Pearl Page.