About Black Pearls
The naturally coloured cultured Tahitian pearl takes its name from the principal island of French Polynesia, Tahiti, situated in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.
The five archipelagos of French Polynesia (Austral Islands, the Windward and Leeward Islands, the Marquesas and the Tuamotu-Gambier) cover an area equal to that of Europe.
The Tuamotu Archipelago is the centre of Polynesian pearl farming. The clean and fertile lagoons of the archipelago create a perfect environment for the development of pearl oysters. The Tahitian cultured pearls are produced by the Pinctada Margaritifera (black-lip) oysters.
A natural pearl is the result of a reaction that takes place in the organism of a shellfish or an oyster in response to the accidental introduction of a foreign body into its flesh.
A cultured pearl is the result of the same phenomenon provoked by the intervention of man and the oysters are carefully reared over a period covering years.
Grafting consists of introducing a perfectly round nucleus, taken from the shell of a mussel cultivated in the Mississippi river, into the gonad of an oyster, along with the graft.
The graft is a small piece of the mantle from another oyster. The grafting operation is delicate and from 2000 shells only 400 will have a commercial value and less than 10 will produce a pearl of A quality. After the grafting the waiting period is around 18 and 24 months.
Black Pearls: A Buyer’s Guide
The appreciation of the real value of a pearl is not an easy task as it depends on various criteria:
°The rarity: it takes a long time, lots of technicians and thousands of oysters, which have been farmed, cleaned, brushed and grafted to obtain a perfect pearl.
°The size: the price of a pearl varies with its diameter. The Tahitian pearl has an average size of 8-12 mm and can grow to 18 mm.
°The Quality: The official grading system from French Polynesia is defined by four different qualities: A, B, C, and D. (A being the highest quality). A very special pearl can be listed as Top Gem. This grading system can easily be transferred to the other pearl types. It must be noted that other grading systems can be encountered.
Tana-Mana use the official grading system from French Polynesia, which ensures our delivery of a cohesive quality level.
« A » quality: the highest Tahitian grade, good lustre*, perfect pearl or almost perfect with a slight defects on less than 10% of the surface.
« B » quality: good lustre*, pearl with a few imperfections which are not too visible on less than 30% of the surface.
« C » quality: average lustre*, pearl with defects on less than 60% of the surface.
« D » quality: numerous defects, lustre* not being taken into consideration.
*Lustre: sharpness and intensity of reflected light on the pearl’s surface.
Lustre is evaluated according to the reflection of light on the surface of the pearl; the brighter the reflection, the higher the lustre. Hence, a perfect lustre corresponds to a total reflection of the light, creating a mirror effect. The lustre is a direct indication of the quality of the pearl’s crystal layers of nacre. When a pearl has orient it has the highest quality of crystals. The light passes through all the layers and is reflected from the centre of the pearl. The pearl shines from the inside.
°The colour: the colour of a pearl varies depending on different factors one of which is the type of oyster. Only Pinctada Margaritifera produces pearls with a wide range of natural colours. The colour also varies according to the presence of minerals in the seawater, the degree of salinity, quantity of plankton and the water temperature. While characterised as black, the rich, dark colours actually range from slate grey, silver and pistachio to peacock green and midnight black with overtones of green, rosé or blue.
°The shape: there are various forms:
-Round pearls and Semi-rounds pearls
-Semi-baroque pearls including drop, button and oval shapes
-Baroque pearls with asymmetrical or irregular shapes.
-Circled pearls with 3 rings or more on more than 1/3 of the surface
Mother of Pearl:
Not only are the pearls beautiful, but the black-lipped oyster's mother-of-pearl inner shell is also extremely attractive. By the early part of the 20th century, before conservation and repopulation efforts began, the oyster had almost been hunted to extinction for its shell alone. When highly polished, carved and set as jewellery, the dark colour of the mother of pearl has a unique and contemporary look. The rainbow of colours displayed in mother of pearl subtly change and react under different light, resulting in stunning effects when worn.
Looking after your pearls:
A Tahitian cultured pearl is compared to a living being because it comes from a living organism and it contains water and protein. We recommend that you wear your pearls often and treat them with care.
-Remove your pearl jewellery before taking shower or going in the swimming pool.
-Do not allow your pearl jewellery to come into contact with cosmetics, perfumes and sprays
-Do not place or wear your pearls next to other jewellery that contains precious stones as these could scratch the pearl surface
-After being worn, clean your pearl by wiping them gently with a soft cloth
-Never use ultrasonic and steam cleaners
-Pearls shouldn’t be stored in boxes for long periods of time
-Keep your pearls happy by wearing them as often as possible, so they will be rehydrated by skin contact and thus retain their original beauty