Tahitian Pearls: A Rainbow of Colors

Tahitian Goddess Oro Not So Black as Rainbow

As an ancient Tahitian legend would have us believe, once upon a time the Goddess Oro used her rainbow to visit planet Earth, giving mother-of-pearl its iridescence and Tahitian pearls their entrancing colors. It is certainly true that, although commonly called ‘black’, the fascinating Tahitian pearls are themselves enchanting rainbows of color which place them so high in price and popularity.

Tahitian Pearls Not From Tahiti!

Although deriving their names from the French Polynesia’s well-known island, Tahitian pearls are in fact not cultivated in Tahiti, but elsewhere throughout waters of French Polynesia, on several islands and atolls in the middle of the South Pacific Ocean.

French Polynesian Oysters in Protective Custody

With the European discovery of the Pacific Islands in the late 1700’s, it did not take the explorers and traders too long to learn of the water’s rich source for mother-of-pearl, turtle-shell, sandal wood and, above all, natural pearls. Europe’s demand for mother-of-pearl buttons caused the exploitation of the Island’s oysters to continue for 15 years until, by 1880, France gained control of the Island cluster we refer to as French Polynesia, at which time, strict regulations were enforced to curtail the extensive fishing and allow oyster beds to reproduce throughout the Islands.

Mikimoto’s Tahitian Pearl Cultivation

Applying the successful pearl cultivation techniques of Kokichi Mikimoto in Japan, experimentations were conducted with the oyster producing Tahitian pearls.
The first nucleated Tahitian pearls were harvested in the mid-1960’s and the atolls of French Polynesia continue to provide the pristine and nutritious environment for Tahitian pearl cultivation.

Big Mama French Indonesian ‘Pinctada Margaritifera’ Metallica!

Tahitian pearls are produced from the ‘Black-Lipped’ oyster called Pinctada Margaritifera which is twice the size of the Japanese Akoya oyster, and its only homes are in the atolls of French Indonesia. Tahitian pearls take between 2 to 3 years to form, treasured for their parity and intriguing exotic colors and luster. They appear in a range of shapes including round, semi-round, teardrop, button, oval, semi-Baroque and Baroque. These highly prized pearls are known for their iridescent, vibrant and almost metallic colors, unique amongst saltwater cultured pearls. Although they appear light to dark-gray in color, they display a variety of colors and shimmering shades at the same time, including aubergine, green, olive green, blue and magenta and cobalt-blue, followed by the rainbows, gray and gold. The most highly prized Tahitian pearls are those of the iridescent peacock and cobalt-blue colors.

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