Everything You Need To Know About Tahitian Pearls
Dark and mysterious, Tahitian pearls have captivated the world for centuries with their iridescent gleam. These alluring pearls are a perfect choice for those with a darker aesthetic, creating a striking contrast against their lighter counterparts. But what exactly are Tahitian pearls, and how do they get their distinctive appearance? Below we’ll share everything you need to know about the origins, composition, and symbolism of Tahitian pearls!
What Are Tahitian Pearls?
As the name suggests, this pearl variety originates from the tropical shores of Tahiti in the South Pacific Ocean. They form inside the black lip pearl oyster, or the Pinctada margaritifera. Nowadays they are not just limited to Tahiti; they can also be found in French Polynesia, the Cook islands, and Micronesia.
Also known as black pearls, Tahitian pearls are distinguished by their captivating dark appearance. However, it’s important to note that Tahitian pearls are not just black. This unique variety is the only type of pearl that displays a full rainbow of colors. Their remarkable spectrum ranges from inky dark blues to rich violets, peacock greens, and shimmering silvers.
Tahitian pearls are among the world’s rarest varieties. They can only be grown in their remote area of origin, since the oysters must be kept in pure waters at a specific temperature to produce pearls. It usually takes at least 2-3 years for a single pearl to form inside an oyster after a delicate and difficult cultivation process, performed by specialists who fly in from Japan. In recent years Tahitian pearls have become even more rare and valuable, mostly due to covid-related border closures.
They should not be confused with black freshwater pearls or black Akoya pearls, which are dyed to achieve their dark hues. The enchanting colors of Tahitian pearls come from nature. Pearls used for jewelry receive no treatment, aside from a gentle wash and buff after being harvested. Additionally, cultured pearls must have a minimum nacre thickness of 0.8mm in order to be considered a genuine Tahitian pearl and qualify for export.
How Do Tahitian Pearls Get Their Color?
The black lip pearl oyster has an iridescent mantle reminiscent of the pearls they produce. This distinctive oyster variety, native to the South Pacific, has a dark nacre that transfers its colors to the pearls.
Black lip pearl oysters tend to be quite big, making Tahitian pearls one of the largest pearl varieties in the world. A single pearl can range from 8-18mm in diameter. The larger the pearl, the longer it has been in the oyster (some take up to 6 years).
The Legend Of Tahitian Pearls
Like many gems, Tahitian pearls come with a long and rich history. They can be traced all the way back to the 3rd century in Tahiti, where they were treated as both mythical objects and status symbols.
Ancient Tahitians believed that the dark pearls were gifts from the gods. They were said to be reflections of heavenly light, originally given from the Creator to illuminate the night sky and the dark ses. Eventually pearls were given to humans as symbols of love. The pearls remained in the ocean, said to be created when the moon shone its heavenly light over the sea.
After Tahitian pearls were discovered by explorers and spread across the world, other cultures began giving them different meanings and attributes. They were believed to have healing powers, especially when it came to curing insomnia, stress, and muscular tension.
As rare and heavenly objects, Tahitian pearls were only allowed to be worn by royalty at one point. This earned them the title “The Queen of Pearls.” They were once the rarest and most valuable pearl variety in the world, and they are still considered incredibly valuable today.
Tahitian Pearl Care
Proper care will ensure that your Tahitian pearls maintain their mesmerizing appearance for decades to come. Follow these tips to keep yours shining:
- Store them away from your other jewelry pieces to avoid scratching
- Clean them by wiping them a lint-free soft cloth, or quickly washing them in a solution of warm water and mild dish soap (never use harsh chemicals or detergents)
- Wear them! Tahitian pearls are to be enjoyed every day, this contributes to their shine, and yours
Are Tahitian Pearls Sustainable?
At Oceano Pearls we only use genuine, ethically sourced Tahitian pearls (each purchase comes with a certificate of Tahitian pearl authenticity). We collaborate with Fair Trade suppliers to ensure our Tahitian pearl pieces are kind to the sea, the earth, and the people. Our suppliers treat their oysters with maximum levels of respect, carefully extracting pearls without causing any harm to the oysters. Their meticulous process allows oysters to live for many years, and produce numerous beautiful pearls along the way.
By working with sustainable Tahitian pearl producers, we can rest assured that our supply chain provides economic and social progress for local communities. All workers are protected by exacting labor laws, and are able to uphold generations-old traditions on their native lands in a safe environment.