The Mystery of Black Tahitian Pearls

The beauty of the pearl derives from the composition of nacre: its microscopic crystals are connected in such a way that light passing along the axis of one is reflected and refracted by the other to produce a wonderfully pleasing interplay of light and color.

In most pearls, nacre is white – or more specifically a shade of pale ranging from pink-white to creamy beige. However, in the clear warm water of French Polynesia, there is a species of oyster (Pinctada Margaritifera) that produces black pearls. Referred to in the gem industry as Black Tahitian pearls, these are more rare than other cultured pearls because they are only produced in this one geographic area.

Just as white pearls come in a variety of hues, so do Black Tahitian pearls. You see, the black pearls are not necessarily black. They exhibit a rainbow of colors from black and purple/black to dark and light gray, greenish and bronze/black. And again, like white pearls, the beauty of Tahitian pearls lies in the mystery of nacre; they display not just one color, but rather a lovely interplay of light and colors. In the finest Tahitian pearls the nacre has a luster that is almost metallic in its effect.

As jewelry consumers become more knowledgeable about gemstones, Tahitian pearls are gaining more and more aficionados and jewelry designers are becoming more inventive about employing these pearls in high-fashion pieces. For example, Tahitian pearls of very different shades are now often used to dramatic effect in a single piec