Black Tahitian Pearl
Tahitian pearls are no longer hidden to the world. Almost everyone has heard of these “queen of pearls” for their exotic nature and extraordinary elegance. The title that Tahitian pearl has achieved of being the “queen” of all pearls also explains that they are one of the most beautiful varieties of pearls that are now available on the market.
Tahiti pearl is significantly known because of its black color. These pearls are cultured from the typical black-lip oysters that are also called Te ufi. Te ufi is scientifically known as Punctada margaritifera. These black oysters are not exclusively available in the corals and lagoons of the French Polynesian islands, and are native to Tahiti. This is one reason why these are known as Tahitian pearls. An elaborate procedure is involved in rearing these oysters for deriving black Tahitian pearls. Firstly, the process begins with the harvesting of the black-lip oysters’ spat. Spat is basically the younger yet mature black-lip oysters that should be identified from the older ones. These oysters are harvested when the matured ones produce spawn and the spawn turns into spat.
The spat derived from the spawn are usually fixed to the bed of the sea or coral to be harvested from there by farmers using some mechanical procedures. The spat would be further reared for result underwater for a period of three years. This is done to provide them with perfect conditions from growth to maturity. Here, it is important to remember that the black-lip oysters are highly sensitive, and it could be very difficult to rear them properly. Once these oysters are matured, a round structure known as “mother-of-pearl” can be grafted into the bodies using a surgical procedure. Mother-of-pearl is basically a natural substance that forms pearl and contains nacre deposits. As a matter of fact, nacre is often known as mother-of-pearl too. However, for cultivating black pearls, they have to be grafted into the bodies of black-lip oysters artificially.
Nacre is basically a composite material that contains calcium carbonate, aragonite, chitin, and other materials commonly used for the making of Tahitian pearls. The process of grafting mother-of-pearl material into the oyster’s body requires increased secretion of the typical material called nacre to ensure that the pearls form at a faster rate. The secretions of nacre tend to get deposited slowly over a period of 30 to 35 months. When the oysters are opened after that, it has formed pearls. The pearls from them are washed, cleaned, and processed even further to meet the basic requirements of becoming Tahitian pearls.
Black Tahitian pearls have certain standards that set them apart from other variations. Original Tahitian pearls contain 80% nacre for qualification. If the pearls do not meet this standard, it is rejected automatically. There are many variations of Tahitian pearls as well, but the genuine ones are those that contain 80% nacre materials. It is expensive but worth possessing one.
Are they cultivated in Tahiti? Not at all, but in the Tuamotu Islands located northwest of Tahiti in French Polynesia. Some of the Tuamotu islands are Fakarava, Manihi, Ahe, Rangiroa.