South Sea pearls come from Australia, Philippines, Indonesia, Burma and some other South East Asian countries. White South Sea pearls are cultured in Northwestern Australia. Golden South Sea pearls are produced in some South East Asian countries. White-lipped oysters generally produce white pearls with silver, aqua and blue overtones. The gold-lipped oysters produce golden, cream and champagne colored pearls.
The size of South Sea pearls can be from 8mm to 20mm, commonly in the range of 11mm to 13mm. Very few South Sea pearls are round or near round. Round and matched South Sea pearl strands are even rare. Majority of the harvest is off round, drop-shape and baroque. These irregular shape pearls are often used in high-end designer jewelry. Unlike Akoya and freshwater pearls, South Sea pearls generally are not necessary to be processed after harvesting.
The rarity, the beauty, the unusually large size and extended growth period (3-6 years) make South Sea pearls the most valuable pearls. It is not uncommon for the retail prices of high-quality South Sea pearl necklaces to be in the range of $100,000 to $200,000 in high end retail jewelry store.