, also known as Black Pearls and nicknamed the Queen of Pearls, are grown in the bodies of the black-lipped oyster – pinctada margaritifera-cumingi
– in warm salt sea waters off the coast of Tahiti in French Polynesia. The export of these costly Pearls forms a good portion of the economy of these island countries which form the archipelago that includes Tahiti, though Tahiti proper, itself, does not have Pearl farms.
These black-lipped oysters would occasionally yield a precious orb on their own, when wild caught, but since the 1960's almost every Tahitian Pearl that is sold is cultivated.
Pearl coloration tends to mimic the color of the inner shell color. In the case of the Tahitian pearl, its black color is reminiscent of the black lips or inner edges of this particular oyster. Their black color is actually more of a multitude of overtones and undertones combined, with green, gray, black, purple, pink, blue, silver and yellow, with the overall aspect darker than in other Pearls.
Some Pearls may have different color variations from one side to the other. The Tahitian Pearls exhibit an almost metallic aspect, which lends itself well to their mysterious beauty. Very few of them are truly black, and these would be quite costly because of their rarity.
Though other Pearls may be found that are black, these are often the result of dyeing or irradiating
otherwise white Ptinearls. It is only the Tahitian Pearl which forms its black aspect naturally. The Tahitian Pearl’s dark beauty is derived from a natural nacre
build-up process within the oyster itself, and is not a cosmetic adjustment made by human hand after collecting the Pearls.
Tahitian Pearls can be found in a variety of shapes, such as baroque, drop, button, round and near-round, though the latter two are less readily available. They average between eight to fourteen millimeters in diameter, with larger Pearls commanding a steeper price. There are a few up to sixteen millimeters, but these are more rarely seen. The larger sizes of the Pearls are due to the larger sizes of the oysters, some of which can grow to a foot across and weigh up to ten pounds. Slight imperfections can be expected in the surface of these pearls, and their value hinges on both the smoothness of their surface and their reflective quality.