The Tahitian cultured pearl is considered the “Queen of Pearls”, because it is the most exotic, sought-after pearl on the market today. These are big, bold pearls that are colorful and lively. They compliment the skin and can be found in white, green, blue, pink, various shades of grey and black. Dealers refer to certain colors as “peacock”, “pistachio” and “aubergine” (a dark purple color) to describe their unique colors. When dealers refer to a black pearl, they most often mean varying shades of grey that build up to a black hue.
The average size diameter of a Tahitian cultured pearl is 9mm to 11mm (.36 to .44 inch), but can get as large as 17mm (.68 inch). For each one millimeter increase in size, there is a disproportionately large increase in the price of the pearl.
Tahitian cultured pearls are difficult to grow and have a low survival rate. It is also very difficult, if not impossible, to control the ultimate shape and final color of the pearl thereby making quality pearls rare and expensive. The round or near-round pearls are the most expensive, followed by the “drop” and “button” shapes. “Circled” and “baroque” shapes are a bargain and most affordable.
Due to the high price and uniqueness of each pearl, most Tahitian cultured pearls are used as solitaires in rings, pendants, necklaces and broaches. If you want to buy a necklace consisting of pearls matched for size and color, you better have a large savings account.
Most people are surprised to learn that Tahitian pearls are not cultivated near the island of Tahiti, but in the distant islands of that vast archipelago referred to as French Polynesia.
As a final note, the Federal Trade Commission of the US government requires sellers of these pearls to clearly identify them as “Tahitian cultured pearls”. If you have a concern about them being genuine, ask the seller to identify them with the correct description on the sales receipt. If the seller hesitates or refuses, do not buy the pearls. This is a request that a legitimate seller will perform.
If you have any comments, questions or concerns about this article, you are invited to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or 760-268-0100.
The Author: Paul Buchanan is a Graduate Gemologist, Graduate of the American Institute of Diamond Cutting and President of Bella Ideale Diamonds.