Tahitian pearls, often called “Black Pearls” are found in the turquoise-colored lagoons of French Polynesia and the South Seas. The Pinctada Margaritifera mollusk produces these fine black pearls. Their opalescent black hue, shimmering with peacock green, gray and purple overtones, makes a sensual, smoldering statement in jewelry designs for both men and women. Natural coloration yields shades of gray to black. Consistency of color tone is highly desirable with peacock tones demanding highest prices.
The Pinctada Margaritifera or “black lipped” oyster is a giant tropical mollusk that can live for 30 years in the wild, can weigh up to 100 pounds and can grow to reach over 12 inches in diameter. In the 19th century, free-diving Polynesians braved sharks, depths of up to 130 feet, and the physiological challenges of deep water diving to harvest the valuable mollusk. Although only one in 15,000 oysters produced a natural pearl, the inner shell was so popular with the European button industry that the resource was eventually devastated.
Today, the complex cultivation process has resurrected the pearl industry in French Polynesia. The government has strict regulations to assure pearl quality. Pearls are now farmed throughout French Polynesia, Northern Australia, and the Marshall, Cook, and Solomon Islands.
Tahitian pearls are usually found in sizes ranging from 8 to 13 millimeters; sizes up to and exceeding 20 millimeters are sometimes discovered, but are quite rare and highly priced. Tahitian pearls, like their South Sea cousins, come in a variety of shapes. As with South Sea Pearls, nacre quality is the defining measure of quality and value.
Single pearls set in cufflinks, on a cord, or as a tie stud make a great gift for men who seek a sophisticated look with natural appeal. For women of all ages, few gems offer greater drama than strands of Pearls, dynamic for daytime or evening wear. Used individually or in combination with white or golden Pearls, black pearls create superbly fashionable jewelry that, with proper care, will last for generations.