The Tahitian Pearls
One thing to know about Tahitian Black Pearls is that they are NOT Tahitian, and they are NOT exclusively Black. Indeed, the pearl adventure in Polynesia began back in the late 60’s with knowledge from Japanese experts, namely Mikimoto, the father of All Cultured Pearls. At the time I guess they wanted to distinguish this new product from the White Akoya Pearls in Japan and called them Black Pearls. Also, the first Island to produce “Tahitians” was Manihi, which is in the Tuamotu Archipelago, far far away from Tahiti, the capital Island of Polynesia.
Of note, Polynesia consist of 122 Islands spread over an area larger than all of Europe. Each region of Islands, there are five, have their own language, culture and beliefs albeit still related to each other. “Tahitian” Pearls are mainly produced in the Tuamotu Archipelago, some in the leeward islands like Tahaa and Raiatea, and the Gambiers, the southern tip of Polynesia. In such an expanse of blue, each Atoll, or Island has its own particularity.
©TAHITI TOURISME / Pile Poil Design
It is easy to regroup all pearls under the banner of “Tahitians”, but really each place has its own endemic variant of the Pinctada Margaritifera.
Also, the topography, geographic location or lagoon depth of the place greatly influences the growth patterns and quality of the oyster. As a result, the pearls from one place to the next can vary enormously. Some places can have super-huge pearls, others tiny, some have blues, ochre, and gold, whereas others have greens or peacocks and even whites.
That being said, we will retain the nomenclature and stick with “Tahitian Black Pearls” or “Tahitian Pearls”.
There is a unique pearl for every unique character out there. Indeed, Tahitian pearls come in all sizes, generally between 5mm to 22mm, all shapes, colors and flavors. It is good to distinguish though nucleated pearls from Keishi. Keishi is kind of a by-product of the culturing process. They emerge when the host oyster rejects the nuclei and forms a “pearl” nonetheless, with pure mother-of-pearl and usually in odd baroque shapes. You can have tiny tiny Keishi and huge Keishi. The larger ones can take up to 5-6 years to produce, with 12-14 year old oysters. That’s old in oyster-years!
Q: What are Tahitian Black Pearls?
A: Tahitian Black Pearls are highly valuable pearls that are cultivated in the waters around Tahiti and other French Polynesian islands.
Q: How are they formed?
A: Tahitian Black Pearls are formed inside black-lipped oysters, which are native to the region. These oysters are carefully cultivated and then harvested by pearl farmers.
Q: What makes them unique?
A: Tahitian Black Pearls are prized for their large size, unique shapes, and beautiful iridescent colors, which range from dark greens to deep purples.
Q: How are they graded?
A: Tahitian Black Pearls are graded based on their shape, size, color, luster, and surface quality. The highest quality pearls are perfectly round and have a high luster and minimal surface blemishes.
Q: What are the factors that determine their value?
A: The value of Tahitian Black Pearls is determined by their size, shape, color, luster, surface quality, and the overall quality of the pearl.
Q: How can you care for Tahitian Black Pearls?
A: Tahitian Black Pearls are delicate and should be cared for carefully. They should be kept away from chemicals, perfumes, and other harsh substances, and should be stored in a soft cloth or jewelry box.