Basra pearls are often called the “pearl of pearls,” and once you learn more about them, you’ll understand why. They come from a small town in Iraq called Basra, but they have a history that dates back to ancient times.

The pearls are nothing short of stunning, and these days, they are worn by celebrities that include Oprah Winfrey and Michelle Obama. If you’re curious about what makes these pearls so unique, you’ve come to the right place.

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In the Beginning …

In ancient times, Basra pearls were traded, and people used them to adorn both their bodies and their clothes. Many people wore them because they believed the pearls would bring them lots of prosperity and luck.

The pearls have a unique shape—similar to a clamshell—and an incredible luster, which is one of the reasons for their popularity. Many manufacturers use silicone to help mold the shape of the pearls into something that can be made into jewelry.

If you’re curious as to what Basra pearls look like, they are nothing short of spectacular. They have an iridescent look that reflects various colors, similar to the colors of a rainbow, when they hit the light.

Some of them even have a slight metallic tint to them that looks amazing when you look at them under certain types of light, including fluorescent light.

Not only are they smaller and daintier than many other types of pearls, but they are also very light and have a unique light-scattering effect that is unlike most other types of pearls.

How to Find the Best Basra Pearls

While this is a unique stone, it doesn’t mean the Basra pearl is always easy to recognize. If you buy any type of jewelry that claims to have Basra pearls in it, or if you’re interested in buying loose Basra pearls, always buy them from a store with an excellent reputation.

Ask to see the lab certificate from the gemology lab so that you can learn the pearl’s origin and what grade it is. Keep in mind that Basra pearls have a unique shape, with a flat top and a slightly curved bottom. They can also be shaped into a pear, drop, or Baroque shape as well.

You might also consider shopping around so you can compare prices and other options, such as shape, size, and color. The more research you do, the more comfortable you’ll feel about your purchase.

A reputable store, a lab report, and even the gut feeling you get about both the store and the people who work there all make a difference, so check everything out carefully. Remember, Basra pearls can be expensive, so doing a little research ahead of time is crucial.

Yet another option for making sure your Basra pearl is real is to check online for stores that carry certified Basra pearls. Will they be pricey? Yes, but these are extremely valuable gems that will grow in value regardless of how long you keep them. Certification is a must when you wish to buy these types of pearls, and sometimes online stores have more certified stones, including a larger inventory and more reasonable prices.

Other Unique Qualities

Basra pearls are made out of calcium carbonate that is formed by a living mollusk’s soft tissue.

For a very long time—hundreds of years, in fact—the Basra pearls were only produced in the Persian Sea in the Middle East. This continued until the early 1800s, but since then, production has virtually stopped, mostly because the local marine ecosystem was depleted.

In practical terms, Basra pearls don’t exist anymore because the ecosystem essentially isn’t there. If you own a Basra pearl today, just know that it is worth a lot of money because there are so few of them around anymore.

The pearls are a silver-white color and are usually oddly shaped, so if you happen to come upon a Basra pearl that is round in shape—and if you can afford it—you should grab it quickly! Most of the time, the pearls are oddly shaped, but of course, this is one of the reasons why it is such a unique and valuable stone.

Today, many royals and celebrities wear jewelry made with Basra pearls, including Angelina Jolie, Rihanna, and many of the members of England’s royal family. They are truly a favored jewel among the upper class!


Originating in Iraq in a town called Basra, the pearl of the same name is uniquely shaped and has an iridescent quality about it, enabling you to see its luster and even different colors when the light hits it.

Since new pearls haven’t been produced in a few centuries, they are even rarer than most pearls. They are very lightweight and small and rarely shaped in a perfect circle, which makes round Basra pearls some of the rarest and most expensive pearls on the market today.

About the Author


I am a pearl and oyster enthusiast who loves to share her knowledge and experiences about fashion with the world. I am neither a certified gemologist nor a reseller of pearls.

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