The Mysterious Tahitian Cultured Pearl

August 11, 2017 by Kiesha Joseph

The Tahitian pearl is one of the world’s most sought after pearls. Understanding how it’s cultivated will help you determine value, authenticity and more. A Tahitian cultured pearl is always in high demand because it’s naturally dark in color, yet contains a full spectrum of colors.

The wide range of color spectrums of Tahitian pearls may include:

  • Cream white
  • Light gray
  • Iridescent peacock
  • Deep black
  • Regal green

The combination of many colors can make a very unique, gorgeous looking strand of pearls.

About the Tahitian Cultured Pearl

From where does a Tahitian cultured pearl originate? Well, authentic Tahitian pearls come from only one place… the black lip oyster, Pinctada Margaritifera. This oyster is very big in size. In fact, it’s twice as big compared to other saltwater oysters that produce pearls. This is very evident in the pearls that they produce, which are as big as their nurturing oysters.

Tahitian cultured pearls get their names from Tahiti. However, surprisingly enough, this pearl does not originate from Tahiti. Instead, it’s mostly produced in French Polynesia. The Tahitian pearl can also be naturally cultivated anywhere at the central and southern parts of the Pacific Ocean.

The Tahitian pearl has also been found in Cook Islands, Thailand, Japan, Micronesian Island and the Philippines. However, we can never ignore the fact that the Tahitian pearl is also cultivated in waters that surround Tahiti.

About the Black Lip Oyster

A small black lip oyster, or rather a juvenile black lip oyster, is not capable of producing good oysters for the pearl industry. This requires a mature oyster to produce an authentic pearl that can be competitive in the market.

Then, how is the Tahitian pearl cultivated? Well, they are nurtured on farms by pearl farmers. For a farmer to produce a good pearl from a mature oyster, he or she must raise the oysters. The oysters are grown from infancy to the mature oysters that can also produce quality oysters for supplying the industry demand.

How Tahitian Pearls are Cultivated on Farms

Black lip oysters are normally stored and nurtured in a net by the farmer. The Tahitian cultured pearl is cultivated by prying and opening a black lip oyster shell. This exposes the soft tissue that protects the oyster’s organs. The farmer inserts an irritant into the soft tissue. The black lip oyster responds to this irritating object by counter producing nacre.

Nacre consequentially covers the irritant, layer upon layer. When this happens, it leads to the formation of the Tahitian cultured pearl.

This Tahitian pearl cultivation process is not a short one. It requires a lot of time and consequently a lot of patience. The complete process takes approximately two to three years. During pearl harvesting, the farmer pulls out the net.

Some of the oysters may be not the best of the breed. Those that produce small pearls are discarded. Good pearl producers are however of benefit. The farmer may choose to nucleate them again for more pearl production.