October 20, 2023

Pure Pearls Weekly Newsletter: Carved Tahitian Pearls



Pure Pearls Weekly Newsletter


"Black was best looking. … The rarest jewels were black: black opals, black pearls." – Ann Petry

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Pure Inspiration: Carved Tahitian Drop Pearl with Red and Orange Sapphires, Enamel Pendant, Jewelry by Galatea


Carved Tahitian Drop Pearl with Red and Orange Sapphires, Enamel Pendant

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The art of carving pearls has a long and storied history that dates back thousands of years. Carved pearls are unique and highly prized for their intricate designs and delicate craftsmanship.
Pearl carving can be traced back to ancient civilizations in India, China, and the Mediterranean. The earliest recorded instances of pearl carving date to more than 2,000 years ago. These early carvings often featured religious and mythological symbols, as pearls were considered sacred and symbolized purity.

Carved pearls are considered unique and precious due to the skill and artistry involved in their creation. They are often used in jewelry, such as pendants, earrings, and brooches, and can also be valuable collector's items.

The tradition of pearl carving continues to evolve, with contemporary artists adding their own innovative touches to this ancient art form. Today, most people will recognize carved Black Tahitian pearls from French Polynesia, which is what we're going to focus on here since it is October, and we're dealing with all things Black Pearl. ;) 

Enjoy the show!
Polynesian Carved Tahitian Oyster Shell with Hibiscus Flower Motif

Polynesian carved Pinctada margaritifera shell with a Hibiscus flower motif


Polynesian carved pearls, often referred to as "tattooed pearls," are unique and culturally significant jewelry items with a history deeply rooted in the traditions and artistry of the Polynesian islands. The practice of carving pearls in Polynesia is known for its intricate and symbolic designs, and it has a history that dates back several decades.


Carved Tahitian Pearl Jewelry by Te Hoto Mana CreationsCarved Tahitian Pearl Jewelry by Te Hoto Mana Creations

The art of carving pearls in Polynesia is deeply intertwined with the region's rich cultural heritage. Many of the designs on the carved pearls are inspired by traditional Polynesian motifs and symbols, such as tribal patterns, ocean waves, turtles, sharks, and traditional tapa cloth designs. These designs often carry deep cultural and spiritual significance. 
The term "tattooed pearls" comes from the resemblance of these carved designs to traditional Polynesian tattoos. Tattooing, known as "tatau" in some Polynesian cultures, has been a significant cultural practice for centuries. The art of tattooing is closely linked to storytelling, status, and personal identity. The intricate patterns on tattooed pearls often echo the patterns of traditional tattoos, and they may even reflect an individual's personal history and journey.

Loose carved Tahitian pearls via EtsyLoose carved Tahitian pearls via Etsy
Carving pearls in Polynesia requires a high level of skill and precision. The carvings are done by hand, using fine tools to create intricate designs on the pearl's surface. The pearls used are typically cultured pearls, which are grown in pearl farms in the region. The pearls are selected for their size, shape, and luster before they are carved.
Polynesian carved pearls have gained popularity both in the Pacific Islands and internationally. They are often used in jewelry, including necklaces, pendants, and earrings. These unique pieces of jewelry are not only prized for their beauty but also for the cultural and spiritual significance they carry. Many people wear them to celebrate their connection to Polynesian culture or as a way to honor their own personal journey and identity.

Carved Tahitian Pearl Necklace by GalateaNecklace of carved Tahitian pearls by Chi Galatea
One groundbreaking pearl carving artist and jewelry designer is of course, Chi Galatea.

A Vietnamese-American artist and entrepreneur who founded the Galatea Jewelry company, Galatea is known for pioneering innovative techniques in pearl carving and creating stunning carved pearl jewelry.

Chi Galatea's work is especially renowned for the use of Tahitian black pearls. He has developed a unique and patented process known as "Carved Pearls" or "Galatea Carved Pearls." This process involves carving intricate designs and patterns into the nacre (the outer layer) of Tahitian pearls without damaging the pearl's core. The designs are often intricate and can feature a wide range of themes, from nature-inspired motifs to intricate geometrical patterns. 


 Carved Tahitian Pearl and Ruby Octopus Pendant Necklace by Galatea

Carved Tahitian Pearl and Ruby Octopus Pendant by Chi Galatea


Galatea Jewelry has gained international recognition for its innovative approach to pearl carving. Chi Galatea's work has expanded the possibilities of what can be achieved with pearls, turning them into more than just jewelry but also works of art. His carved pearls have been featured in galleries and exhibitions worldwide and are prized by collectors and pearl enthusiasts.


Carved Tahitian Pearl Bracelet by Tahiti Pearl MarketBracelet of multi-colored carved Tahitian pearls by Tahiti Pearl Market

Chi Galatea's contributions to pearl carving have helped revitalize and modernize the industry, making it more appealing to a wider audience. His innovative designs and techniques have redefined the way people perceive pearls, showcasing their versatility and potential for artistic expression. His work continues to be influential in the world of pearl jewelry, inspiring others to explore creative possibilities with pearls.


Hand-Carved Tahitian Mother of Pearl NecklaceHand-carved Tahitian mother of pearl tiles have been worked so beautifully that each piece flows sinuously into the other, creating a stunning Polynesian motif necklace.

That's it for this week's edition of the Pure Pearls Newsletter - what did you think? Would you wear "tattooed" Tahitian pearls? 
Until next time ...



Ashley M.


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Midnight Sparkle



Pure Pearls Weekly Product Spotlight: Tahitian South Sea Pearl & Diamond Levana Infinity Pendant



This beautiful Tahitian South Sea pearl infinity pendant features a lustrous 10mm, AAA quality pearl. The pearl is mounted on the finest quality 18K gold. This pendant comes packaged in a beautiful jewelry gift box with an official certificate of authenticity. Each pearl purchase comes nestled in our signature Little Black Jewelry Box and is accompanied with a GIA Graduate Prepared Retail Appraisal, detailed Pearl Care Instructions and Pearl Polishing Cloth.


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