Many say the quickest way to a woman's heart is through jewellery, but for the Filipinos that jewellery should include a south sea pearl.
The jewels of the sea have recently been named the country's national gem.
These could easily be some of the world's finest and biggest pearls.
Either black or white, these gems make beautiful pieces on their own, or they can be set with other precious stones.
They are Philippine south sea pearls -- the so-called pride of Filipino women.
Compared to other kinds of pearls, south sea pearls are bigger in diameter and have a variety of colours.
Produced from Pinctada oysters, they can only be cultured in tropical waters.
Last October, in a presidential decree signed by Philippine President Fidel Ramos, the south sea pearl was named the country's national gem.
The Philippines is one of the world's main sources of south sea pearls.
Most of the country's pearl producers export their harvest abroad, but since it was declared the national gem, interest from the local market has increased.
Many other countries in Asia produce pearls, but the Philippine version has its own characteristics that pearl enthusiasts love.
Experts say that Philippine pearls have a special orient so that the inner glow of the pearl. If you look at other pearls they might have good skin but the glow might not be as good -- that's the advantage of our pearl. I think its the quality of the water as well.
SUPER CAPTION: Carmina Sanchez, Administrative Officer, Philippine Association of Pearl Producers and Exporters
Pearl producers say it takes time, patience, hard work and expertise to produce quality pearls.
Pinctadas are harvested by divers from the semi-nomadic Badjao tribe in the Sulu archipelago in Southern Philippines.
Armed with nothing but a wooden pair of goggles and a rope, they dive 80 meters deep in search for the perfect oyster.
The oysters are sold to pearl farms.
Expert grafters then take charge of culturing the gems by planting a foreign object into the oyster.
They are then placed back into the sea in cages and left to develop under the constant supervision of divers.
After three years, the cages are hauled up for the harvest.
It is a long wait but producers say it is well worth the effort.
Jewelmer, the country's foremost producer of the south sea pearl, sells most of its harvest abroad, but part of it stays in the Philippines and is made into fine pieces of jewellery for local consumption.
Some of the pieces can cost a small fortune, depending on the size and quality, but others go as low as 150-US-dollars.
Sellers say prices can be steep because larger pearls are only produced once in a lifetime.
But they say that anyone who buys one gets value for money, because they never go out of fashion.
Its something very unique and it looks very classic, like pearl jewellery is very classic, its not trendy, it doesn't go out of style.
SUPER CAPTION: Malou Lacson, Assistant Sales Manager, Jewelmer Pearls.
The Philippines has eight pearl farms.
Producers are happy that they're now charged with creating the national gem.
The declaration has boosted their sales, but more than that, they are happy that it has added to the Philippines' national pride.
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