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Pearl Education

Tahitian Pearls

Tahitian PearlsBlack and dark Tahitian pearls have been the favorite of royalty through the ages. These pearls are larger than traditional white pearls and have a darker metallic sheen. Tahitian pearls are popular amongst women who want a bolder look and feel.

Tahitian Pearls at a Glance

oyster common name
Black Lipped
oyster scientific name
Pinctada Margaritifera
overall size range
8-17 mm
average size range
10-11 mm
growth time
22-28 months


History and Cultivation

European accounts of Tahitian pearls trace back to the late 1700's. These early natural pearls were found in large sea oysters harvested for both food and their decorative shells. By the late 1800's the natural oysters became scarce and faced extinction. In response, pioneers labored to develop successful culturing of Tahitian pearls.

Tahitian Pearl Today

Tahitian pearls hold a very distinct place in today’s fine jewelry marketplace.

Tahitian Pearl Shape

Tahitian black pearls also have many unique shapes. As the pearls are larger, the shapes differences are more pronounced.

Tahitian Pearl Colors

Black Tahitian pearls are easily noticeable as a result of their darker colors. The pearls themselves have a dark metallic, satiny sheen. Many pearls also display a prismatic or rainbow effect called orient. Next, the overtone is the subtle color the pearl reflects.

Tahitian pearls cannot be color treated.

Value Factors

The value of a specific Tahitian pearl and the finished jewelry piece is dependent on many factors. The most important is the luster, shape and surface quality. These factors you can immediately see. The next value factor is how well matched the pearls are within necklaces, earrings and other finished pieces. Also, a less visible value factor is nacre thickness. Regulations require that Tahitian pearls have a minimum average of 0.8mm of nacre.