Main Pearl Producing Mollusks-Let's Start with the Pinctada Maxima Oyster
Many mollusks can produce pearls, but there are only a few that can produce pearls that are of a quality good enough for jewelry.
One of the most stunning is the Pinctada Maxima Australian South Sea pearl oyster. The adult size of this oyster can range from 8-12" in diameter and are mostly the silver lipped variety. The color of the interior mother of pearl shell is a strong indicator of the color of the pearl. Australian White South Sea Pearls have a satiny silver surface. This is one of the largest pearl producing oysters. The NW coast of Australia is the last of the areas in the world that produces pearls cultivated in wild south sea oysters. These bead nucleated oysters grow pearls from 11mm to 16mm and sometimes larger. It takes 2-3 years for a pearl to develop. There are non bead cultured pearls as well that are called keshi pearls and these range in size from 2mm to rarely 15mm. Very rarely, Australia's Pinctada Maxima will produce natural pearls.
Pinctada Maxima oysters only produce one pearl per shell.
Pinctada Maxima Gold Lipped
In the Philippines, the Gold Lipped variety of the Pinctada Maxima oyster grows Golden South Sea Pearls.