BLACK PEARLS: TAHITIAN BEAUTY IN THE PALM OF YOUR HAND
Black pearls, also frequently referred to as Tahitian pearls, or Tahitian cultured black pearls, are extremely unique and beautiful dark pearls that have become increasingly popular over the last few decades. This is quite the notable accomplishment, as pearls had temporarily slipped from fashion’s attention throughout the last quarter century. However black pearls, as well as their lighter cousins, are now well on their way back into the favors of jewelry lovers.
Today’s black pearls are virtually always cultured, as the rarity of a black pearl found naturally in the ocean would make it extremely difficult to find, and thus not cost effective to pearl suppliers. A black pearl would occur naturally only in about one in every 10,000 oysters. Moreover, it is illegal to dive for oysters for the sole purpose of discovering natural pearls, as it endangers the oyster species. Therefore, black pearls are developed by way of a precise grafting process, performed by a skilled technician, with the Pinctada margaritifera, commonly known as the black lipped oyster of French Polynesia.
Though referred to as “black”, black pearls are most commonly quite multicolored, most frequently appearing in a shade of metallic steel-grey. This coloring is a natural part of their development, as the black lipped oyster produces dark, multicolored secretions for its mother-of-pearls. Simply browse our black pearl necklaces for an example of the color spectrum.
To form a quality cultured black pearl, approximately 18 to 24 months are required after the point of grafting. This allows enough time to achieve the desired thickness of at least 1.5mm from the nucleus of the pearl.
Though frequently known as Tahitian pearls, black pearls aren’t produced solely in Tahiti anymore – though it does remain the most abundant supplier. After the mid-60’s, when Tahiti was still the only black pearl farming location, the Cook Islands, and Kiribati have entered into the market, producing approximately 3% of the global supply.
Black pearls are a great deal larger than white and other pearls, growing to up to 12 inches in diameter – with a weight of up to 10 pounds – as opposed to the 3 inch maximum of the Akoya oyster’s white pearls. This allows a much larger nucleus to be implanted into the oyster.