Palawan is popular mainly because of ecotourism, which it promotes so responsibly and enthusiastically. You won’t see mass tourism there, and in exchange, you get to experience being part of island communities that are unspoiled but very much thriving.
What you probably don’t know about Palawan is that, to borrow this description from Jewelmer, the international luxury brand for Golden South Sea Philippine Pearls: “Pristine tropical waters of the Palawan nurture the world’s largest pearl-bearing oyster, the gold-lipped Pinctada maxima oyster. A rich diversity of life, including rare and endangered species endemic only to the region, together with modern pearl farming technology, has enabled a unique partnership between man and nature to create the rare golden South Sea pearl.”
Thus, it’s just but natural for me to look for golden south sea pearls during our stay there. And the best place to find them is at LRC 908 Market Mall, known as the “Pasalubong Center” of Puerto Princesa.
But before you go shopping for South Sea Pearls, I suggest you orient yourself with this simple grading chart for pearls so you get the best among the lot (sample shown below is that of a golden south sea pearl):
It is said that the more intense the gold color is, the higher is its value. But you know, when you see this plenty of golden pearls together, believe me – you’ll get lost haha!
When I shopped for my own golden south sea pearl, I challenged myself into buying one that will cost less than P2,000.00 (Tip #1 – set a budget). Yes, a single pearl for that price. Not impossible really because the pair of 11.5 mm golden sea pearls I bought at eBay years ago costs P8,000 or P4,000 for each pearl.
Next, do not rush in picking pearls (Tip #2). If you can choose from their pile of loose pearls, the better and the more enjoyable it is. Why? Because it’s like picking the best tasting candy from inside a jar hehe!
But then again, we don’t have the luxury of time to check the condition of each and every pearl in the pile so do not hesitate to ask for assistance from the attendants there and narrow down your choices to these “sorted” pearls. Do not get carried away with their recommendations, though, and if you don’t like what they chose for you, say it outright (Tip #3 – look like you know your pearls well so they will choose also the good-looking ones for you).
You can also skip looking at the unsorted pile and just ask for the high-quality ones (like those below). It’s much easier this way and yeah, it saves time hehe!
If you are buying pearls to be set into earrings and ring, it is okay if not all of them are the exact likeness of each other. I personally do not mind them not being of the same roundness (otherwise, they’ll look fake), for as long as the shade and luster are not too far from each other.
Also, having fish bites are okay (another indication that they’re not fakes), but too many fish bites are not always okay. It really depends on what setting you’d like for your pearl. If, for example, you want it to be set into a ring, then the presence of fish bites at the bottom part of the pearl is okay since they will be concealed by the setting anyway. I would actually buy the pearl with fish bites that are easily concealable (that’s Tip #4) because fish bites drive their prices lower (good point!) and then once set into a ring you won’t get to see them anymore (another good point!). Plus, the gold component and craftmanship of the ring will now drive the price of the pearl ring higher (a good, good point!).
Here’s the golden south sea pearl that I got from the pile above, with the golden south sea pearl earrings I have at home (grabbed from my Instagram account – @dbrightspot):
The pearl I got is a little more intense in color than the earrings, but look, they matched each other perfectly in the picture! The size of the pearl is about 11.5mm. And since I will be setting it into a ring, the color difference won’t be obvious at all.
And the price of the pearl? It was offered to me at P2,500 but I haggled hard (Tip #5 ) because of the presence of fish bites at the bottom part of the pearl. I was able to buy the pearl for….(drum roll, please!)…. only P1,500.00 =) Imagine, a golden south sea pearl for that price?! It’s insane, right??
Anyway, my lucky streak continued and I found these 11.0 mm white pearls (with a hint of silver) that are already set in sterling silver. They have very good reflection quality (can you see me inside the pearl holding my camera?) and that’s also an indication of above-average quality pearls (Tip #6 – check out the luster; the clearer your reflection is inside the pearl, the better).
You can see a fish bite at the right earring and that’s okay, it’s not visible at all when you wear the earring with this side down.
I invested no more than P5,000 for these south sea pearls (yes, very true!) and that made me a really happy pearl hunter! =)
It also made me happy to see this lady finally buy the golden south sea pearl necklace I was eyeing at the same shop I was in. It looks way, way better (and rounder) than this Jewelmer necklace that was once auctioned at UNICEF’s Auction for Action with a starting bid of P127,500 (photo is from Daphne.ph):
The lady was actually haggling for more discount for this similar necklace when I came in. She eventually bought it at P70,000.00 – a steal pa rin! And she’s really happy with her purchase. And I would have, too! If only I’d gotten hold of that necklace first (sorry, no chance to take pictures but the Jewelmer necklace above will give you a good idea of the pearl sizes and length of the necklace).
Yes, you can buy big ticket jewelry items there at LRC 908 Market Mall because the big shops accept credit cards! You can worry about the payment later haha!
Now that you know where Jewelmer sources its golden south sea pearls, you’ll know what to look for when at Palawan =)
Wow! I enjoyed reading this entry. It makes me want to book a flight going to Puerto Princesa for next year.
I always wanted to have a pair of South Sea Pearl earrings.
Thank you for sharing this info 🙂
Thanks, Diane! I’m glad you liked it.
I had fun writing this, too =) I, too, am secretly wishing for another trip to Palawan – to get more pearls and have more of island hopping! =)
Is 1500 the price for each pearl you’ve scored? Does it mean that you got 3k worth of pearl earrings? 🙂
The golden south sea loose pearl costs P1,500, while the pair of white south sea pearls (set into earrings) is just P3,500 =)
Thanks Leah! Your blog as always have been helpful 🙂
Hi there! I want to have white south sea pearl earrings na kc naghahanap tlga aq nito & Im so happy & na super trust dhil sa nabasa ko dito at di lang un kaya din ng budget hehe.. nagbebenta po b kau tru LBC? gusto ko po umorder ng white pearl SSP nio kc matagal pa po ata aq makakapunta ulit Palawan.
Sorry po, I’m not selling SSP at the moment =) But I’ll let you know if I get hold of nice Palawan SSP in my next visit there =)
That is true Leah. If u have time pleaae visit also our SSP Demo Farm at Bulalacao, Coron, Palawan. It may help to know more about SSP..
Badz of Hikari SSP Corp.
Thanks! Will contact you when I go to Coron, hopefully this year! =)
Wow, I want to have my own pearl jewelry someday. Thanks for sharing the pearl grade guide. 🙂
You’re welcome! Once you have a pearl jewelery, you will definitely want to have more hehe!
Wow very interesting your story good tip im one of them like to hve SSP. Thanx for your tip.
Wow! Thanks for the lecture 🙂 But I would be happier if we are friends haha By that I can really have a hands on training experience. It would take some time for me to revisit Palawan.. I will bookmark your post and try to remember everything.
Hi Leah, I’m such a very lucky girl today because I have been gifted by a Davao-based friend with a pair of 11.0 mm genuine white South Sea pearl earrings. It’s my first pair so I was very thrilled. And then I was reminded of this post so I checked the link again. Just like your pair, I’m happy to report that mine has very good reflection quality. So happy! 🙂
Wow that’s so nice, Edelweiss! You’re so lucky to have a very thoughtful and generous friend! =)
Now that you have your SSP earrings na, won’t a pearl necklace be far behind? *wink wink* =)
Thanks! Hopefully, when I get to visit Palawan (haven’t been there yet) I could get myself one. 🙂
First time to visit you blog Ms Leah. Is the LRC mall near the airport? I want to go to Palawan even for just a day for this!
Hi again, Dorothy! LRC Mall is in the city center talaga, not exactly near the airport =) You can ask the tricyles there to take you there, alam nila ito =)
Oops sorry I posted the comment accidentally. i just want to add that you have a nice blog. 🙂
I’ve been wanting to go to Greenhills for south sea pearls but I changed my mind and want to go to Palawan instead, he he.
Thanks Dorothy and welcome to The Bright Spot! Yes, you should go see Palawan – first, for the south sea pearls and second, their amazing islands and beaches and third – their food! I still haven’t written about our food trips there. Will do that soon =)
hello ms leah! anong name ng store in palawan po kayo bumili ng golden ssp? i want to buy also but im afraid baka fake yong mabili ko.. thank you
Hi Yen! It’s LRC 908 Market Mall (also called the Pasalubong Center). There are plenty of them sellers inside so look around muna.
Ask ko lang would you know if as early as 7am open na yung LRC 908 Market Mall and what time kaya sila nagko-close?
Tisha domingo says
Wow! This is steal! I am eyeing for a golden south sea pearl also, but I want a bigger size than yours. Humn, all of a sudden I became interested in going to Palawan. Thanks for the nice post. You have given me a very good idea.
Tamang tama, may P10 sale sa Cebu Pac now! Go book a flight to Palawan na, Tisha! =)
Thanks for visiting my blog =)
philippines freelance web designer says
very nice post. best blog.. (-:
I started researching about SSP and came about your website. My hubby & I will be in PI for about 2 1/2 weeks in March 2014 after our SE Asia cruise. I actually just planned to go to Greenhills to buy some pearls for pasalubong and may be buy me a gold one from Jewelmer. I already have 3 pairs of white SSP earrings & a ring but now after reading your blog I want a gold SSP. Now I seriously want to go to Palawan! I have asked my hubby’s niece to check on flights & hotel. I still have to hear from her. It’s nighttime in the Phils right now.
Oopps it’s early morning in PI
I hope you can visit Palawan soon, Ms. Cely!
Hi Leah… yes we are booked for 3 nights 4 days in March 2014! We are staying @ Microtel by Wyndham. I worried about transportation around the city but thru your website I learned about taxicles 🙂 and also about the best resto in PP “Ka Lui”. I love seafood & was excited about the seaweed lato that you posted. That’s my fav that we always try to find some when we visit PI which is not often. Anyway thanks for your blog. Please keep posting.
I’m wondering if the LRC 908 Market Mall and the Tiangge Tiangge ay pareho . Really getting confused. I’m more excited about this side trip to P.Princesa especially the pearl shopping part than my upcoming SE Asia cruise in February!
cher storry says
i got the same white pearl earring for only 2000PHP.. I didnt go out of the shop without a discount. I am defo coming back to palawan to buy gold south sea pearl set!
Your blog is too neat and pretty to be ignored just like that after having a look around here! It doesnt deserving for you just to read and leave! I felt too guilty just to leave like that. so I posted your part with the Palawan Pearl on my fb blog, since I dont know how it works with folding somebody elss blog. Thank you by the way, truly youre a Pearl hunter expert.-). i learned a lot and enjoyed. i will Keep on coming back here for sure!
Hi Rowena! Welcome to The Bright Spot! =)
Joanna Ambrona says
hi just got home from palawan..i bought a pearl white/silver 14mm..they asked for 3,500 but i got it for only 1,700..i was thinking of buying loose pearls and sell it here in taguig..after i read your blog i decided to come back to palawan..your blog helped me a lot thanks…
i just want to ask you if you know where to buy whole sale loose pearls..thanks
You can buy loose pearls also at LRC Shopping Center ö
aida galay says
Thank you so much for all the infos…i had fun reading and learning from you
Hello, I read abut your posts about the golden sea pearls. It’s actually very nice. Are those pearls come with a 14k gold for earrings for golden pearls? Would you happen to know the price for golden pearls for 12mm and 14mm. How far is LRC 908 Market Place to Socrates Street (Subli Guest Cabins) in Palawan? Your response is greatly appreciated. Thanks!
Yes, pearls set in 14k gold “pakaw” are available for sale too at LRC Market. You can ask your hotel about the location, everyone there knows where LRC is located =) About the price of 12mm to 14mm, depending on your preferences, you can get them for a price lower than P5,000 but again there might be imperfections in the pearls at this price point.
Hello Leah, I like your blog… it’s so nice. I would like to ask if you would have a idea as to the price of the 12mm golden pearls SSP and white SSP. Is the LRC 908 Market Mall in the city of Palawan. Please let me know and thank you.
Hi Carmen! You can ask your hotel on the location of LRC Mall, everyone there knows where LRC is located =) But yes, it is in Puerto Princesa.
About the price of 12mm pearls – depending on your preferences, you can get them for a price lower than P5,000 but again there might be imperfections in the pearls at this price point.
Thank you for the information. It was a great help! My apologies… I sent two messages and inquiry not knowing the first one was already sent. I would like to buy loose pearls as well but I don’t know any “alahera.” Would you mind to recommend anyone 🙂 I would like to buy pearl earrings for my nieces, mom, sisters and a friend. It would be a great help if I can buy them in an inexpensive amount but won’t compromise the pearl quality. In such a way, I would have great “pasalubong” that they will enjoy. I hope the seller will give me great deal of discount since I would like to buy lots for my loved ones and for myself. Hope to hearing from you. Thanks again in advance!
Hello Leah: hope u may help:
i checked the price in Jewelmer shop, golden pearl price is very very high. and in green hills, the jeweler told me, most of gold pearls are dyed. do u have any advice how to check it dyed or nature color? tnx
Watch out for the “metallic gold” effect on the pearls, yung tipong parang gold paint ang effect. I was told by a pearl seller in Palawan that it’s really difficult to tell if it’s dyed or not, so the best option is not to buy those that obviously look dyed.
Is the pearls in LRC Mall much more cheaper than the one in Greenhills? How about comparing their quality’s?
Yes they are cheaper. They offer different quality of pearls. Those that are priced higher have better luster and shape.
This blog is really helpful for pearl hunters! You are such an expert 😀 I got 2 12mm blue grays and 2 13mm white rose for very cheap 🙂 But the thing is, I don’t know where to have them set and how much would it cost to have my precious pearls mounted into 14k rose and white gold earrings 🙂 I would sincerely appreciate if you could provide further tips 🙂
hi. do the pearls look best in white gold, if you have it set into earrings, ring or necklace? thanks
White / black or greyish pearls look best in white gold. Champagne / gold colored pearls are best set in yellow gold.
Thank you so much for sharing your experience Leah. I have read some forums about pearls that you can buy in Palawan and somebody warned that there could be fake pearls being sold there. Is it true that all pearls from the pearl farms are sent directly to Manila?
Can you still remember which store you bought your pearl? I would like to buy a good quality golden south sea pearl that’s rich and deep gold color. Do they sell AAAA quality or are those already set aside for export market? I’m curious what’s the highest grade I can buy in Palawan and how easy to find a good color like the one you bought there.
I got my pearls from the stall at the left side when you enter LRC Market Mall.
It helps if you know how to look for the best quality pearls, because that will also help you in haggling the price. They can show you good looking ones and say it’s AAAA but sometimes it’s just AA. So if you have an eye for spotting substandard ones then that would really help. Better talaga to have somebody knowledgeable about pearls to help you shop for pearls =)
Hi leah, I have learned a lot from your blog . what about pistachio pearl? Are there some in Palawan? Is the price similar to other SSP? Thanks
Hi Pina, yes there are pistachio pearls in Palawan. Sorry but I was not able to ask their price, I’m more on the gold pearls kse pag sa Palawan kukunin.
May I ask if you know a credible pearl shop in Greenhills that is not that expensive? I am planning to buy some pearls for myself. But I don’t have time to go to Palawan. So I’m thinking to buy in Greenhills muna.
I highly recommend Berdori at Greenhills.
Here’s my feature about Berdori:
Nilda de la Rosa Descartin says
Hi, Lea. Is it ok if I copy your link to my FB Page called Beadifully Yours? My Page is about beads, gems, fashion accessory. Please like my Page. I want to connect with you thru your blogs. Thank you.
Hello im so much happy coz i bought my south sea pearl im puerto princesa palawan…cool original with certificate in complete set…!
K. Gamarcha says
Hi, great blog! Thanks for sharing! Do you know any pearl farm owned by Filipinos and only Filipinos? I want to buy from them directly. Thanks!