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The Ultimate Guide to Tahitian Pearls

The Ultimate Guide to Tahitian Pearls

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There is nothing quite like a classic pearl necklace. Traditional and toned down, it represents the perfect jewelry piece to dress up an outfit. But regardless of how beautiful white, lustrous pearls may be, there are certain fashion-forward ladies who prefer their jewelry to be a bit more edgy. Tahitian pearls may be just what they were looking for.

Exotic and unique jewelry made with Tahitian pearls combines the grace you would normally expect from pearls with the edgy look of modern jewels. But just what are Tahitian pearls and how are they grown?

Dark and Exotic Pearls

Pearl connoisseurs know that Tahitian pearls come in a variety of colors aside from black. This unique treasure produced by the Pinctada margaritifera (also known as the Black-lip pearl oyster) is known for its rich, varied colors, ranging from creamy white and gray to regal green and even peacock or deep black.

Usually, Tahitian pearls have a brightly reflective luster and may bear purple or green overtones. Their slightly off-round shape is nothing unexpected, especially since neither natural nor cultured pearls are perfectly round.

But Tahitian pearls can come in other shapes too. It’s important to understand the relationship between size and value when searching for pearl jewelry. When compared to one and other, the roundest pearls are the most valuable. By contrast, ringed pearls are the least valuable (but not in any way less beautiful). Curiously, only 5% of all harvested Tahitian pearls in the world are round. Their diameter variations must remain under 2% to be considered round.

Other shapes include semi-round pearls (in this case, the diameter variations exceed the aforementioned 2% but are less than 5%), button, pear, teardrop, oval, baroque (such pearls don’t have an axis of symmetry),  and ringed (the least valuable).

tahitian pearl

Tahitian Pearls and their Deep Colors

As mentioned before, believing that Tahitian pearls are merely black pearls would be a serious misconception. Most of these exquisite jewels have vibrant, metallic and iridescent colors. Tahitian pearls are unique in the sense that various colors and shades can shimmer about their surfaces at the same time. From peacock to different shades of green, eggplant, dark blue and grey, Tahitian pearls come in all colors. There is a difference in price though: peacock pearl necklaces may end up costing twice as much as green ones.

Size Matters in All Things, Even Pearl Shopping

Apart from color, luster and shape, pearls may also be judged in accordance to their size. Tahitian pearls come in a wide variety of sizes, ranging from 8 mm to 18 mm. Size is actually an essential factor when it comes to the pearl’s value: since the majority of cultured Tahitian pearls come in sizes from 8 mm to 12 mm, larger pearls cost significantly more. Pearl farmers rarely come across such coveted pearls.

Understanding Pearl Quality

Pearl trade is made possible by the standard pearl grading system which allows farmers and sellers to rate the pearl’s surface. Much like a school grading system, pearl surface quality systems involve an A through D nomenclature. A Quality pearls are the most valuable option, while D Quality are the least valuable. These grades account for the presence of surface defects (or, in the best scenario, absence thereof) and luster.

So if you do decide to purchase a Tahitian pearl jewelry piece, make sure to keep all these things in mind to ensure the best purchase.

Photo credits: Main Image

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