According to the Robert Wan Pearl Museum in Papeete, Tahiti, so-called black pearls are not really black. Their colors can run from dusky purple to dark slate grey or even gold. Although sometimes called “Tahitian pearls,” they actually come from the Gambier and Tuamotu Archipelagos in French Polynesia. They come from black-lipped pearl oysters which are seeded by hand and then left in the sea for about 18 months to two years. A strand of large, consistently-sized black pearls can cost around $200,000.
- Black pearls are made by hand-seeding black-lipped pearl oysters and then returning them to the sea for 18 months to two years.
- Black pearls are quite expensive because only about one to two percent of the seeded oysters will produce good quality black pearls.
- You can create a unique souvenir by going to special market stalls where you can sift through bins full of pearls and choose a few to be set.
“That’s where I discovered the terms “black pearls” and “Tahitian pearls,” which are used interchangeably, are both misnomers. In colour, they range from dusky purple and green to silver and gold, and are never really black; the closest you’ll find is a dark slate grey. And they’re not actually from Tahiti, but from islands further afield in French Polynesia, specifically the coral-rich Tuamotu and Gambier archipelagos.”