Tahitian Pearls: The pearl of queens. The queen of pearls. If you hear this description, there is no doubt: it is the Tahitian pearl that we are talking about. In the past, only kings and nobility were allowed to wear them (thankfully that era is over!), and even today, Tahitian pearls remain highly prized for their rarity and bewitching beauty. Of all pearls, Tahitian pearls come in the most impressive variety of hues, from silver, royal green, iridescent peacock to the deepest black. When admired more closely, the Tahitian pearl has a special aura, so dazzling is it with its changing tones and its thick layer of mother-of-pearl, so characteristics. How much do real pearls cost? Where to buy it?
A history rich in legends
Tahitian pearls are sometimes called black pearls because they are the only pearls that are naturally this color. Sri Lankan legends tell that Adam and Eve wept bitterly following their expulsion from the Garden of Eden. Eve’s tears were white pearls, and Adam wept black pearls: their respective tears eventually gave birth to an entire lake full of pearls. Women are known to cry slightly more than men, so black beads have been found to be rarer.
Polynesian legends tell the story of Oro, the god of war, peace, and fertility, who fell in love with a princess from the island of Bora Bora. To prove his undying love, he descended to Earth and brought her the rarest treasure the heavens could offer: the black pearl of Tahiti Poe Rava. To commemorate his time on Earth, Oro also offered men the Te Ufi pearl oysters, which still rest today at the bottom of the lagoons of French Polynesia.
Another legend tells the dream story of the moon, which bathed the dark ocean in its glow on full moon evenings, in order to attract oysters to the surface. Each oyster then received a drop of celestial dew. Over time, these drops polished off and took on black color with flashes of pink, green, and blue. Since then, these oysters continue to carry dewdrops in the form of black pearls. What is a cultured pearl? Natural pearls vs Cultured pearls
The Chinese themselves also evoke the black pearl in their legends, believing that the pearls came from the heads of the dragons who carried them between their teeth until their death. Dragons being recognized as mythical creatures endowed with great wisdom, the black pearls would therefore symbolize eternal wisdom.
How are Tahitian pearls formed?
Tahitian pearls are sea pearls and the animal that wears them is the Pinctada Margaritifera, the scientific name for the black-lip pearl oyster. Their core is shaped like a pearl, just like Akoya pearls. The latter have a much thinner layer of mother-of-pearl than those of Tahiti, the thickness being one of the strictly regulated criteria for pearls. Mother-of-pearl is one of the most important parameters for judging the quality of a pearl: the thicker its layer, the higher its quality. The nacre layer of the pearl should not be less than 0.8 mm.
History of pearl farming
Tahitian pearls have always been highly sought after, which explains why man has been strongly committed to its culture. The beginning of the 1960s was marked by research on techniques for implanting the nucleus in the shell of mollusks – the nucleus being the foreign body that is introduced into pearl oysters in order to be able to control, at least partially, the pearl culture.
The scientific contribution of Frenchman Jean-Marie Donard is an important step in Tahitian pearl farming: it was in 1961 that he succeeded, for the first time, in introducing a nucleus into a pearl oyster. In 1965, these techniques of transplantation and culture began to be applied to pearl oysters on the reefs of Bora Bora, where the pearls harvested reached a size of 14 mm, marking the birth of a new industry. These cultured Tahitian Pearls are then presented to the public in a set of sublime jewels made by the famous jeweler Mourareau.
In 1968, the first real Tahitian pearl farm was born in Manihi Reef, the “Société Perlière de Manihi”. The first round of Tahitian Pearls is cultivated two years later and pearl farms begin to flourish in French Polynesia. In 1976, the GIA ( Gemological Institute of America, the American gemological institute) officially recognizes the color of Tahitian cultured pearls as natural and 12 years later, the officially recognized designation “naturally colored Tahitian cultured pearls” is adopted. Standards are set for their production, and the popularity of the Tahitian pearl begins to grow.
Classification of Tahitian pearls
The success of the cultivation process is not guaranteed. Only 30% of pearl oysters are capable of producing a pearl, and of this 30%, 1% achieve gemstone quality. This is why Tahitian pearls are so rare and so precious. Many factors influence the pearl formation process, as beautiful pearls can only come from healthy oysters that live in excellent conditions. Those from Tahiti are the most valuable cultured pearls in the world, behind South Sea pearls, and their market price is determined by a combination of several criteria.
Tahitian pearls Area
Tahitian pearls often have small depressions, inclusions, or dots on their surface which can reduce their value. When making jewelry, these can be hidden by piercing the pearl in a place with imperfections, for example. The jeweler thus always thinks about how to place the pearl in a jewel, in order to highlight its beauty as much as possible.
Tahitian pearls Color
Color also plays an important role in pearl valuation. Interestingly, the closer a pearl forms to the inner shell, the darker its color will be. Pearls that form farther from the shell tend to be gray, silver-gray, or even silver. Don’t blindly trust the “black pearl” label: Tahitian pearls are never completely black! Their surface has green, gray, blue, pink, or lavender reflections. Each pearl is therefore unique and original. The Tahitian pearls of your “Peacock” are a specific case: their coloring is reminiscent of that of peacock feathers. The luster of the pearl, which depends on the strength and clarity of the nacre, is also important. If the mother-of-pearl layer is thick, the pearl will shine.
Tahitian pearls Form
The shape of Tahitian pearls is very varied. Besides the perfect round or oval shapes, pearls can take the form of drops, pears, or buttons. Circled beads (with rings) are also very popular. Beyond the regular symmetrical shape, which is the most precious, there are also Baroque Tahitian pearls, with completely absent symmetry, resulting in a different pearl on each side. What is Psoriasis Stone? What is the Meaning of Psoriasis Stone?
Tahitian pearls Cut
The size of Tahitian pearls varies from 8 to 18 mm, or even more according to some sources – these cases are however still very rare. On average, the pearls measure between 8 and 12 mm. The larger the pearl, the greater its value.
Tahitian pearls General aspect
Overall appearance always plays a major role in pearl appraisal. Sometimes an exceptional shape or a perfect color outweighs the size of the pearl. Thus, a small Tahitian Pearl may have a higher value than a larger pearl, which would have other defects. To estimate a pearl, a classification ranging from A to D or from AAA to A is frequently used. In the first type of scale, A is the best grade, followed by A/B, B, C then D. In the second type, AAA is the best rating, then AA+ (since this scale also uses the + sign), followed by AA, A+, and finally A. The “Top Gem” category outranks all the ratings mentioned in the two types of scale: its attribution remains extremely rare.
Tahitian pearls In the world of Jewelry
Tahitian pearls will seduce you with their unique color and large size, which gives them distinctive and incomparable characteristics. Their intense color is due to the thick layer of mother-of-pearl, which also enhances their durability. Tahitian pearls are also distinguished by their color reflections, reflections that give them a particular brilliance in the light of day. This color will look noticeably darker after dark in artificial light.
The variety of shapes of Tahitian pearls allows for a wide range of uses. Jewelry made from these beads can be whimsical or elegant, stately or minimalist. The Tahitian pearl lends itself to both simplicity and more elaborate designs in combination with diamonds, which enhance their sparkle. It is suitable for both formal occasions and more casual dinners. It fits harmoniously into a multi-pearl necklace, and at the same time, a piece of jewelry with a single pearl can be an eye-catcher just as much. Thus, it is an ideal stone for pendants and earrings.
Thanks to their metallic luster, often silver, green, blue, or purple, Tahitian pearls pair best with white gold. Sometimes they can also have brown highlights, which combine very well with yellow gold. Again, it’s often a matter of personal taste and preference. The only thing we advise against would be setting them in silver due to their high value.
Choose and take care of your Tahitian pearls
Tahitian pearls can sometimes be dyed during cultivation. If this is the case, the seller must always indicate this on the final product. You can also come across black colored pearls that are not Tahitian pearls. In this case, it is always artificially colored pearls, because only Tahitian pearls are naturally black in color. Which natural stones are best suited for Cancer?
Tahitian pearls must be maintained with care so that they retain their eternal beauty. They require a similar precaution to other beads: in the morning, put them on last when getting ready, and at the end of the day, take them out before your evening routine. Although the nacre of these pearls is quite hard and does not deteriorate so quickly, it is better to place them in a separate box to avoid contact with sharp objects or other jewelry. After wearing them, you can wipe them lightly with a damp cloth and, from time to time, gently coat them with a little evening primrose oil. We also recommend that you check the pearl setting and knot quality of a pearl necklace from time to time.
Tahitian pearls Some interesting facts and figures
Tahitian pearls come from the waters of French Polynesia, in the South Pacific. They reflect the purity of the waters found there. Outside French Polynesia, they are also grown in Micronesia, the Cook Islands, and, to a lesser extent, in Japan, Thailand, and the Philippines. However, purists believe that only the pearls of French Polynesia deserve the name “Tahitian pearls”.
The first pearls
The first pearls brought to Earth by the god Oro would be the Poe Rava, a “Peacock” colored pearl, and the Poe Konini, a circled sculptural pearl. The term “sculptural circled” refers to the circles (or ridges) that are typical of certain Tahitian pearls, forming a sort of band around the pearl.
Wife of US President Ronald Reagan
Black pearls have always been considered a luxury item. This is why they have seduced many celebrities: Elizabeth Taylor, Margaret Thatcher, and even Nancy Reagan, wife of US President Ronald Reagan. Julius Caesar himself was a connoisseur. In Rome, he is said to have even prohibited their wearing and possession by unmarried women. Funny situation: this declaration led to an increase… in the number of marriages. In addition, the sale of pearls to people who would jeopardize their financial situation was prohibited. Julius Caesar is also linked to one of the most famous Tahitian pearls in history: the one he gave to his beloved Servilia. The mystery of the “how and when” around the acquisition of this pearl remains intact and continues to fascinate contemporary historians. It is rumored that Caesar paid 6 million sesterces for his pearl, which corresponds to 1.5 billion US dollars (2019 equivalent). Where Can I Find Natural Stone Beads?
Pirates of the Caribbean
In the film saga “Pirates of the Caribbean”, there is a ship called the Black Pearl (the Black Pearl, in English), coveted by many pirates. Its name may be a reference to the elusive black Tahitian Pearls of Tahiti, as many privateers have traveled halfway around the world to find their precious black pearl. Despite or in spite of their quest, many have failed.