Made in the luminous lagoons of French Polynesia, Tahitian pearls present a wide variety of colors, shapes and nuances. The locals call it "Poe rava" , or "rare pearl".
Each pearl is unique.
A pearl's size is measured in millimeters (mm). Tahitian pearls are typically 9-10mm , but can range from anywhere from 7mm to 14mm , with very rare specimens being even bigger.
They aren't always round, and a perfectly round pearl isn't necessarily the most beautiful.
The existing shapes are :
Circled, baroque, pear shaped (also called drop), button, semi-round and round.
The irregular keshis pearls are a by product of pearl culture, and sometimes form on the oysters shell inadvertently.
Tahitian pearls are cultivated in pearl farms, there are almost no more "fine pearls" found randomly in wild oysters.
These pearl farms are mostly found in the Tuamotu archipelago and Gambier islands.
The oysters used to create Tahitian pearls are called « Pinctada Margaritifera »
In order to insure the oyster creates a pearl, a nucleus is inserted inside the oyster's mother-of-pearl shell.
It will then create layers upon layers of mother-of-pearl around that nucleus in the space of 2 to 4 years.
After which, the pearl is taken out by hand.
Each oyster can only create a single pearl at a time, and only a few pearls in its lifetime.
This long and meticulous process is why Tahitian pearls are expensive and sought after.
Using the Tahitian classification system :
DEFECTS ON < 10 % OF THE SURFACE
DEFECTS ON < 30 % OF THE SURFACE
DEFECTS ON < 60 % OF THE SURFACE
Any pearl with worse attributes than a D quality pearl is not considered a gem.
In order to evaluate a pearl, one needs to :
Measure the pearl with a sliding caliper
Observe the nuance and color of the pearl
Light gray pearls are worth the least, as they are the most common and the least sought after. They are, however, quite beautiful when mixed with pearls of other colors, as their neutral tone amplifies the other pearls' own color.
The most prestigigous colors are « peacock » , with its many colors and nuances, and blue-ish pearls.