Posted in  Beginners guide  on  October 18, 2022 by  Anisa0 comments

Tahitian pearls stand as one of the most valuable types of pearls in the world. So, what are Tahitian pearls?

Tahitian pearls come from the shallow waters surrounding French Polynesia. These pearls are among the largest of all cultured pearls available. Some Tahitian pearls can reach sizes of up to 18 cm in diameter.

Keep reading to learn more about Tahitian pearls, such as their typical color, luster, and other features.

Table of Contents

Tahitian Pearls Origins and Overview

The Tahitian pearl is produced in the waters around Tahiti and the other islands that make up French Polynesia. The islands of Tahiti are found about halfway between Australia and California.

Tahitian pearls are formed inside the Pinctada Margaritifera oyster. Before the cultivation of Tahitian pearls, the Pinctada Margaritifera oyster was collected for its distinct colors.

Pinctada Margaritifera is commonly called the black-lip pearl oyster, as it has a dark lip around the inner edges of the shell. It also produces dark protective mother-of-pearl layers that make it a popular item.

The black-lip pearl oyster is a type of marine bivalve mollusk found throughout the tropical areas of the Pacific Ocean. It is typically found near coral reefs, where it attaches itself to hard material, such as barnacles.

It can grow close to 10 inches in height, making it one of the larger types of pearl-producing mollusks.

The first Tahitian pearl farm was established in the 1960s to protect the natural mother-of-pearl from over-harvesting. Salvador Assael, the founder of Assael, helped grow the Tahitian pearl industry in the 1970s.

He used his expertise to produce high-quality cultured pearls featuring distinct Tahitian colors.

The Gemological Institute of America (GIA) recognized Tahitian pearls in 1976. These pearls are known for their unique colors, which often include shades of blue, green, or purple. However, the Tahitian black pearls are the most popular in the region.

The Tahitian pearl is now the largest export from French Polynesia. Over 55% of the country’s exports are Tahitian pearls.

Shapes and Sizes of Tahitian Pearls

Cultured Tahitian pearls come in many shapes and sizes. Common shapes include round, semi-round, circle, oval, teardrop, button, and baroque.

Round pearls feature a perfectly spherical shape. Round is the most popular shape for Tahitian pearls and is often used for necklaces and earrings.

Semi-round Tahitian pearls may appear completely spherical to the naked eye. However, some pearls are slightly oval-shaped, which makes them less valuable.

Circle, button, oval, and teardrop Tahitian pearls are still symmetrical but not perfectly round. These shapes may appear more frequently in earrings, rings, and jewelry designs that require an elongated or flattened gem.

Baroque Tahitian pearls are often asymmetrical and include irregular shapes. However, they are still popular due to their uniqueness.

Tahitian pearls range in size from 8 mm to 18 mm, with an average size of about 13 mm. Tahitian pearls grow for 18 to 24 months before harvesting. The larger pearls take longer to grow.

Tahitian Pearl Color Range

Tahitian pearls typically have a black or charcoal color. However, they also tend to have undertones or overtones of other colors.

It is common to see Tahitian pearls with hints of pink, purple, blue, green, silver, gold, or yellow. You can also occasionally find Tahitian pearls with a combination of all these colors.

The luster of Tahitian pearls is often duller compared to Akoya pearls. These pearls spend more time in the water, which can result in thick layers of nacre. The thick layers make the exterior less reflective.

A high-quality Tahitian pearl should have a sharp, bright surface that is reflective but not quite mirror quality.

Tahitian Pearl Prices

Tahitian pearls may cost $500 to tens of thousands of dollars. Tahitian pearls are often the second-most expensive type of pearl after Australian pearls.

The size of the pearl depends on many details, including the size of the pearl and the quality of its appearance. A high-quality luster, perfectly round shape, and smooth surface result in the highest prices. Tahitian pearls with deep black colors also tend to fetch a higher price.

How to Care for Tahitian Pearls

Quality Tahitian pearls require minimal care. You should wear the jewelry occasionally, as contact with the skin helps hydrate the pearls. You can also wipe the pearls using a soft cloth to help preserve the luster.

Tahitian pearls that require a deeper cleaning should be soaked in clean seawater and dried using a soft cloth. You can also find polishing cloths designed specifically for drying and polishing pearls.


Tahitian pearls have a distinct appearance. While most people picture creamy white colors when they think of pearls, Tahitian pearls are often charcoal or black.

They are also available in larger sizes compared to Akoya pearls and most freshwater pearls. If you want unique pearl jewelry, Tahitian pearls may be the right fit.

About the Author


I am a pearl and oyster enthusiast who loves to share her knowledge and experiences about fashion with the world. I am neither a certified gemologist nor a reseller of pearls.

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