Gallery & In-depth
Tahitian Pearls, compared to other types
Tahitian pearls are considered to be the second most valuable commercially farmed pearls in the world. Unlike black freshwater and black akoya pearls, which have been irradiated or dyed, Tahitians come by their dark colour naturally. Tahitian pearls are bead-nucleated, the nacre is typically very thick. The thinnest nacre allowed by French Polynesian law for export is 0.8 mm, which is a depth that would be considered, in the akoya world, extremely thick.
Colours, shapes, and sizes
The beautiful Tahitian pearls are among the largest pearls in the world, ranging in size from approximately 8 mm to 18 mm, on avarage about 12 mm. The only larger commercially harvested pearls today are South Sea. The beauty of Tahitian pearls however, is not limited to their size, but the remarkable colour range that covers the spectrum. Black-lip pearl oysters have a rainbow-like mantle which exhibits all natural colours. These colours are magically expressed in Tahitian pearls by shimmering over the surface of some of the best specimens.
Because Tahitian pearls are bead nucleated, many of them are near round, with other shapes expressed in drops, baroques, button and circled pearls. When all other factors are equal, round Tahitian pearls are the most valuable.
The Tahitian pearl oyster, pinctada margaritifera, also known as the “Black Lip” oyster is native to the tropical atolls and lagoons of the French Polynesian islands. These saltwater oysters can grow as large as a dinner plate, resulting in the larger pearls.
Although Tahitian pearls carry the name of the famous Tahiti Island they do not come from Tahiti. Tahiti is the main trading post for atolls that produce Tahitian pearls. Black-lip pearls are farmed in French Polynesia, the Cook Islands, the Micronesian Islands, and even to some extent, Japan, Thailand, and the Philippines, but only those grown in French Polynesia may be called Tahitian pearls.
How rare and valuable are they?
Tahitian pearls were once the rarest, most valuable cultured pearls in the world. They are still much more valuable than freshwater and akoya pearls, but the farming enterprises are no longer relegated to small groups of atolls. This has brought market forces into play, and today, Tahitian pearls are now affordable to a much wider demographic. Fifteen years ago, a perfect strand of Tahitian pearls for €100,000 would have been considered a bargain. Today, these strands are now available for around €2.000 - €4.000.
For more Tahitian pearl information feel free to ask any of our team members. We are the experts on pearls and can answer any questions you may have.