The Purest Gem on Earth is Born Here!
The warm lagoon waters of the islands and atolls is Mother Nature's choice for the cultivation of her pure living gem: the Tahitian Cultured Pearl.
The warm lagoons of many of the islands are among the most perfect on earth because of the temperature, density, salinity, light, and pure climate. Commonly known as "Black Pearls," Tahitian Cultured Pearls range widely in pricing, size, shape and colors. From the darkest black to shimmering shades of green, blue, bronze, aubergine, or even pink - these are truly the jewels of the ocean.
Tahitian cultured pearls are cultivated from the black-lipped variety of the pinctada maxima oyster which reaches a foot or more in diameter, and produces very large pearls. This oyster is very sensitive to the pearl culturing process, which makes the pearls very costly to produce. A gift of Tahitian cultured pearls makes an extraordinary, unique gift.
Tahiti Pearls vary in color, shape, quality and size. When a farm harvests Tahiti pearls the imperfect ones are rejected. The pearls are then sorted according to shape, diameter and quality of the surface coating.
Selecting Tahiti Pearls for sizePearls are arranged according to size by passing them through sieves. They are measured at their narrowest diameter. Most have a diameter measuring between 8mm and 14mm. A few exceptional ones reach between 16mm and 18mm. The largest black pearl diameter recorded was a superb 21mm. The largest baroque (26.95mm) can be seen in the Musee de la Perle in Papeete. Pearls exceeding 18mm are rated as 'A' regardless of color.
Selecting Tahiti Pearls for colorAlthough they are called black pearls, Tahiti pearls form with a wide range of predominant body colors. And yes, they are natural. The depth of color is determined by the amount of black pigment an oyster secretes. You can choose from soft gray pearls to deep black ones. Or colors of brown, blue and green. Muddy colors are unpopular. Usually, the darker the color, the more valuable the pearl.
The varying shades are created by the refraction of light as it passes through the multitude of pearly layers which act as a prism. This is the same principle whereby raindrops passing through light form a rainbow.
The body color is usually enriched by at least one overtone. The Tahiti pearls considered most exquisite also have a peacock green overtone. You can expect to pay twice the price (of a solid black pearl) for those with this greenish luster. Other desirable overtone colors are blue, silver, gold, pink and aubergine.
In the industry, specific names have been given to these overtone colors:
- peacock — greenish black
- cherry/aubergine — purplish black
- champagne — yellowish gray
- pistachio — greenish gray
- lavender — bluish black
- Tahitian gold — golden black
- pigeon gray — purplish gray
- silver — gray
- moon gray — pale gray
- orient gray — surface iridescence
Selecting Tahiti Pearls for shape
Semi-round pearls have variations in diameter of greater than 2%, but less than 5%, so are slightly imperfect. There are larger numbers of semi-rounds harvested and they can be purchased for much less. So they are popular for black pearl jewelry, such as a Tahitian pearl necklaces, as slight deviations from round can be concealed.
Semi-baroque pearls are grouped into 4 shapes: oval, pear, drop and button. They must have at least 1 axis of rotation to fit into this category. Drop pearls are a favorite for use in black pearl jewelry.
Baroque pearls have no axis of rotation. Due to their affordability, they are appreciated by some jewelers. These manufactures specialize in creative designs that integrate fancy baroque shaped pearls into fabulous pieces of Tahitian pearl jewelry.
Ringed or circle pearls have an axis of rotation and exhibit regular rings, streaks or grooves that are perpendicular to the axis. As a plus, they are imbued with multiple hues of color. 'Ringed pearls' make up 25% to 30% of a pearl farm harvest, so are common. Their prices are attractive to designers. So they use this feature by setting bands of precious metal into the grooves of circle pearls, and accent them with gem stones such as diamonds.
Selecting cultured Tahiti Pearls for quality
Black pearl jewelry that has a thick coating of nacre can be worn often and stay beautiful through time. But if pearls have a thin nacre coating it will gradually wear away and expose the nucleus shell.
This is the sheen that reflects light on the pearl's surface. When light reflections are bright and sharp, a pearl's luster is considered high or very high. If light reflections are weak, the pearl's luster is called dull. Tahiti cultured pearls can have a remarkable glossy finish which radiates warmth, along with a mirror-like sheen. This lustrous finish is prized by many.
Because pearls formed in the natural environment (rather than being grafted on farms) have a soft, satin surface, some jewelers prefer cultured pearls with less luster. When you look around the Tahiti pearl shops you will see both matte and shiny black pearl jewelery. Be assured that like their color, the luster of Tahiti pearls is natural.
Four ratings are given for surface quality:
- Quality A pearls have a good luster and are completely smooth, or show one or two tiny ripples or indentations that are visible to the naked eye. These affect less than 10% of the surface. Top quality pearls are very rare and expensive.
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