Tahitian pearls are one of the most exotic and beautiful types of pearls. They are formed in a black-lipped saltwater oyster called ‘Pinctada margaritifera cumingii’, which has dark coloured mother of pearl material inside its shell.
This type of pearls first became more widely available to the market in the 1970s in Europe and the US. They are cultured in the oyster, with a piece of mantle tissue and a shell bead, in pearl farms located by warm lagoons and atolls in French Polynesia. The oysters typically produce a pearl that is 8 to 14mm in diameter, with round shapes being the most valuable, but their semi-round, drop and original baroque shapes are also sought after.
Although often called black, Tahitian pearls are produced in a variety of body colours and overtones including silver, anthracite grey, blue, peacock, pink and aubergine. The cool and dark colours of Tahitian pearls makes them well suited for contemporary jewellery designs.