Scallop pearls are among the rarest and most valued types of pearls in the world. Scallop pearls are non-nacreous natural pearls. Other examples of non-nacreous pearls are Conch pearls (from Strombus gigas), Clam pearls (from Tridacna gigas) and Melo Melo pearls (from Melo Volutes).

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What are Scallop pearls?

These are non-nacreous pearls produced by a scallop of the family of mollusks known as Pectinidae. These scallops have a physical appearance similar to a Lion’s paw (also known in Spanish as “Mano de Leon”).

Wild scallops are typically harvested for their fleshy meat and not their pearls. This is because, just as has been mentioned elsewhere for most conventional natural pearls, scallop pearls are rare in nature. Indeed, 1 in 10,000 scallops may bear a pearl.

Physical Characteristics of Scallop Pearls

They are often very small, ranging from just a few millimeters to as large as half an inch. They are composed principally of calcium carbonate. The color of scallop pearls can range from white to shades of pink, cream, brown and even black, depending on the scallops from which they are formed.

Just like most natural pearls, scallop pearls may be round, off round, rain-drop shaped, baroque or even oval.

More importantly, scallop pearls are non-nacreous as such they do not possess the unique luster seen in conventional natural pearls. Nonetheless, when viewed under a bright light, scallop pearls display a shimmering sheen effect.

Scallop Pearl (Source : Journal of Gemmology)

How valuable are scallop pearls?

Over the past 3 decades, scallop pearls have become increasingly sought after by collectors and enthusiasts. The typical price for these pearls is 100 to 2500 dollars per carat weight.


The shell of the lion’s paw scallop is one of the most beautiful of all seashells, and it is therefore not surprising that any pearls produced by this mollusk should also be beautiful.

Finally, pearls from the lion’s paw scallop are distinctive in so much as their surface structure is dissimilar to that of any other non-nacreous pearl. They are composed predominantly of calcite rather than aragonite. The combination of color, structure and optical effects is unique among natural pearls, making scallop pearls an exceedingly rare gem material.


Scarratt, Kenneth, and H. A. Hanni. “Pearls from the lion’s paw scallop.” JOURNAL OF GEMMOLOGY-LONDON- 29 (2004): 193-204.

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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