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Customer Question: I'd Like To Get My Wife Some Black Pearls, But The Tahitians Seem So Expensive! Can You Tell Me Why They're Priced So High?

Posted by Ashley on 2/6/2015
Customer Question: I'd Like To Get My Wife Some Black Pearls, But The Tahitians Seem So Expensive! Can You Tell Me Why They're Priced So High?


Tahitian pearls are most expensive because they're much more "rare" in comparison to the Akoya and black Freshwater pearl varieties. They are the only naturally colored black pearls in existence (besides Sea of Cortez pearls); all other pearl varieties must be color-treated to obtain their darker hues. Naturally colored black Tahitian pearls have very thick nacre, naturally large sizes and gorgeous, dazzling colors that are unmatched in the pearl world.

The saltwater pearl oyster that grows Tahitian pearls must reach maturity before being nucleated with its first shell-bead nuclei, which typically takes between 2-3 years: that's a lot of waiting time for farmers anxious to get a return on their investments!

The pearls themselves spend a much longer time acquiring their thick layers of nacre than their cousins; typical growth time for pearls before harvest is an additional 2 or more years. The amount of labor and love that goes in to tending the oysters while they're creating these beautiful gems must also be taken into account for final valuation.

A diver at the Kamoka Tahitian Pearl Farm tends to oysters growing pearls. The growth period typically ranges 2-3 years before harvesting even a single pearl

Finally yield, or total amount of pearls at harvest have a lot to do with pricing. Although all of the bead-nuclei used in Tahitian pearl cultivation are perfectly spherical, the percentage of perfectly round pearls in comparison to off-round, semi-baroque and baroque shapes is tiny: about 5% of each harvest is composed of perfectly round pearls ... Baroque and Semi-Baroque Tahitian pearls are a much larger percentage of any harvest.

Tahitian pearl oysters can be nucleated up to 3xs in one sitting, but most often the technicians overseeing the nucleation process will only allow 2 bead nuclei in each oyster to ensure high quality pearls at harvest. They need to take into account the health and continued survival of the oyster after the initial pearls have been collected. 

In comparison, Freshwater pearl mussels can be nucleated up to 25 times on each side of the shell, giving the Freshwater pearl farmers a potential harvest tally of 50 pearls per mussel. That volume adds up quickly, and accounts for lower pricing as compared to Tahitian pearls.

Our friend, Josh, nucleating the next batch of Tahitian pearl oysters on his pearl farm. This is an extremely delicate process that requires skilled hands and a gentle touch.

So those are the basic reasons for the pricing upgrade when it comes to Tahitian pearls. I hope I've been able to answer all your questions, but if you have any other questions, concerns or issues, feel free to let me know!

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