One of the rarest pearl colors in the world, Black pearls have been coveted and treasured for centuries. With the advent of pearl culturing techniques, and modern color treatment technologies, today anyone can own these stunning gems. There are three types of Black pearls. They are
- Black Tahitian Pearls
- Black Akoya Pearls
- Black Freshwater Pearls
Each of these pearl types has its own unique characteristics making them somewhat easy to distinguish from the other ... but not always! It's best to stay alert when examining your pearls to make sure your little gems don't trip you up!
Black Akoya Pearls
Black Akoya pearls are a very popular pearl choice for many pearl lovers. Black Akoya pearls are color-treated, 99% are treated using an organic aniline dye.
Cultured Akoya pearls from Japan are known for being small in size, ranging from 3.5mm up through 9.5-10.0mm at their largest. The average size range for the color-treated Black Akoya pearl runs from 5.0-5.5mm up through 8.0-8.5mm ... most farmers will not sell their largest, rarest and most luxurious sizes to be dyed. Usually the pearls are of AA+ Quality, but AAA Quality Black Akoya are also available.
Black Akoya pearls have a very uniform appearance ... The pearls feature a hard, almost plastic looking shine with no iridescence.
Usually the colors are a very dark Midnight Blue-Black color, and sometimes can be a Blackish-Green hue seen below.
The dyeing process is very stable - you would have to badly mistreat these pearls on a consistent basis to see any kind of fading or color change.
Black Freshwater Pearls
Black Freshwater pearls are from China, and are a playful, colorful way to indulge in wearing Black pearls without breaking the bank.
Freshwater pearls are cultured in the Hyriopsis cumingii Freshwater pearl mussel and are composed of 100% solid crystalline nacre, so they are very, very durable. Sizes typically range from 6.0-7.0 mm up to 10.0 mm but can also grow larger to 12.0 mm rarely.
Black Freshwater pearls can be either dyed or irradiated, however the vast majority of pearls you'll encounter today are dyed to achieve their final colors. The color is stable, and will not shift or fade over time.
Upon up-close, careful inspection you can occasionally find tiny black spots or speckles on the surfaces of Black Freshwater pearls, which is an artefact of the dyeing process. Beyond that however, the overall look is colorful and lovely.
The resulting colors are very distinct, and available in a rather wide range ... although they are usually umbrella'd under the term "Peacock" to describe their colorful iridescence. Black Freshwater pearls can appear to be Denim Blue, Copper, Violet, Purple/Rose, Blue-Green Green, Peacock-Green or a mix of all colors (Multi-color).
Dyed Black Freshwater pearls look strikingly similar to dyed Black Akoya in terms of color, size and luster- the easiest way to tell the two apart is differences in the shape: Akoya pearls are perfectly round, while the Freshwater pearls will feature slight off-round to oval-ish shapes.
Showcased here are Black Freshwater pearls with more typically seen Blue-Green and Green Peacock colors.
Another example of Black Freshwater pearls, this time colored a warm Coppery color, with hints of Rose, Purple and Green showing up. I really enjoy these Coppery Black Freshwater pearls, although I'm not seeing them quite as often as I used to.
Black Tahitian Pearls
Tahitian pearls from French Polynesia are the only naturally colored Black pearl on this list. The pearls are grown in the Pinctada margaritifera saltwater pearl oyster, and range in size from 7.0-8.0mm at their smallest to 15.0-16.0mm and even larger.
Tahitian pearls aren't really "black" per se, they are generally known to range from Pale Dove Grey to Dark Charcoal Grey in body color, with secondary colorful overtones that span the rainbow. The most famous overtones are:
- Aubergine / Cherry
But there is nearly an endless array of color combinations that Tahitian pearls can possess.
The Tahitian pearls above display some of the most famous and popular overtones: Peacock, Blue-Green and Rose. This photo is an excellent example showcasing the colorful, shifting iridescence and complexity of Tahitian pearls.
Oh Silver Tahitian pearls, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways ...
Silver Tahitian pearls can actually range from pale Silver to darker Steel; it really depends upon the primary body colors of the pearls. True light Silver Tahitian pearls will have a body color of Pale Dove Grey, and Steel Tahitian pearls will have darker body colors of Medium Charcoal to Dark Charcoal Grey.
Silver is most often described as a pale, whitish sheen shimmering over the surface of the pearls, this can be combined with hints of other overtones to create a light Aquamarine (seen in the second pair from the left). Silver pearls reflects TONS of light, making the pearls appear brighter and larger than they actually are, and are a great overtone for showcasing the subtle rainbow iridescence that Tahitian pearls display.
For more tips, advice or answers to your questions relating to pearl colors, definitely give our Ultimate Guide To Pearl Colors a visit (you won't regret it!), or feel free to visit our Pearl Education Center.
Until next time ...
This darkly sparkling jewel of a necklace showcases some of the most rare colors Tahitian pearls can possess: Aubergine/Eggplant purple. These perfectly round Tahitian pearls feature very dark charcoal grey body colors, which provides an excellent base for the intense overtones of Aubergine, Bronze and subtle Peacock hues shimmering over each pearl surface.
The AAAA Quality Tahitian Pearl Necklace features True-Round Tahitian pearls, 9.0-11.0mm in size. The pearls will be individually double-knotted on matching black silk and finished with a 14K Gold clasp of your choice. Each pearl purchase comes nestled in our signature Little Black Jewelry Box and is accompanied with a Certificate of Authenticity, detailed Pearl Care Instructions and Pearl Polishing Cloth.
This strand can be accompanied by an official appraisal by the Gemological Laboratory of America, an independent jewelry appraisal company with over 30 years of experience grading and appraising fine jewelry in the famous Jewelry District of downtown Los Angeles.