10-11mm natural pink South Sea pearls 18" necklace with 14kt yellow gold clasp.Â 10517-051518-EB-79267 South Sea pearls are among the largest commercially harvested cultured pearls in the world. The average size of a South Sea pearl is 13 mm, with most harvests producing a range of sizes from 9 mm to 20 mm. The South Seas lie between the northern coast of Australia and the southern coast of China. These waters are the native habitat of a large oyster known as Pinctada maxima. This oyster grows up to 12 inches in diameter and can be nucleated with a much larger bead than other saltwater oysters such as the Akoya. Â Their large size, limited culturing area, and extended growth period all combine to make South Sea pearls the rarest of all pearl types. Found in colors ranging from optic white to a deep, honey gold, these pearls are prized by collectors and designers alike. The luster of South Seas pearls, whether white or golden, is soft and luxurious. Only a small percentage of South Seas are spherical and as such, full strands of matched pearls are extremely rare Â South Sea pearls are generally much larger than other pearl types and have a unique luster quality â€“ a soft reflection due to the large aragonite platelets that make up the pearl. They also have the thickest average nacre of all cultured pearls. These factors make South Seas both distinctive and valuable. South Sea pearls have the highest value and command the highest prices of all types of pearls. As with other saltwater oysters, the South Sea pearl oyster is bead-nucleated. However, the growth period is approximately 2-4 years, unlike the Akoya pearls, which develop in less than half that time. Being a delicate organism, this type of pearl oyster is particularly susceptible to disease and stress, which is one reason why the culturing area for South Seas pearls is quite limited. Attempts to expand South Sea pearl farming have met with little success because the oysters do not thrive outside their native, natural environment. Â White South Sea pearls generally retain the highest value of all pearl types. Because of their scarcity and unusually large size range, they command much higher prices. Depending on the quality, shape, and size of a Golden South Sea strand, those prices can be well up into the thousands of dollars, with prices for the White South Seas going even higher. It is quite common for the retail prices of fine quality South Sea necklaces to be in the range of $10,000 to even $300,000 and more. The baroque shapes are often used individually in unique jewelry pieces which can make them more affordable while still showcasing their natural beauty.