What are Melo Pearls?

Melo pearls are extremely rare non-nacreous calcareous concretions from the gastropod Melo melo. This large sea snail has a limited range, occupying shallow seas near Myanmar, Malaysia, Vietnam, Indonesia, and the Philippines.

Since melo pearls are non-nacreous, they don’t have the familiar iridescent shine of cultured pearls. Instead, they have a flame effect that moves across the pearl. Although made of aragonite, which is also found in nacreous pearls, melo pearls arrange this mineral in a different manner. Instead of the layered platelets that make up nacre, the aragonite crystals intertwine in a melo pearl. This structure creates the flame effect.

These rare pearls were once a sign of royalty in Eastern cultures, even when they were unknown to the rest of the world. Believed to be droplets that fell from the dragon in the sky, melo pearls were worshipped as holy objects. Because of this, they were never drilled and worn. Still, emperors would often wear motifs of a dragon chasing a flaming orange pearl.

Melo Pearl Quality Factors

The four Cs of colored gemstone grading aren’t the best way to evaluate either nacreous or non-nacreous pearl quality. Instead, the calcareous…