Pearls are one of the most beautiful and timeless pieces of jewelry that offer an astonishing array of colors for everyone to wear. From classic white pearls to gold, silver, black, and multi-color pearls. Today, many consumers prefer wearing black pearls because they look unique and mysterious.
The truth is, for centuries black pearls have captivated treasure hunters and pearl collectors, and up until recently, a single strand could fetch more than $150,000. Thankfully, if you want to wear these unique pearls today, there are several options available that anyone can afford.
Today, high-quality black pearls are some of the most popular in the contemporary jewelry market. If you’re wondering how black pearls get their color and where they come from, read on to find out more about them.
Black pearls are formed when an irritant, such as a grain of sand gets stuck inside the body of a very specific type of oyster called Pinctada margaritifera. These oysters have unique coloration, which is not usually found in other pearl-producing mussels or oysters. Although its predominant body color is black, it can also feature distinct washes of green, blue, or purple. These overtones are what make every black Tahitian pearl unique.
After an irritant is lodged in the oyster’s soft membrane, it begins forming layer upon layer of a substance called nacre to isolate the irritant. The nacre builds up around the intrusion and becomes a pearl. Some farmers try to imitate this wonder of nature by surgically inserting an irritant, usually a small bead made out of plastic or shell.
Once Tahitian pearls are harvested, they can display a stunning array of colors. You can find black pearls with overtones of blue, peacock green, cherry, and pewter. Even though every black pearl has its unique characteristics, they’re unified by their high-contrast body colors and shimmering luster.
Naturally, black pearls come from Pinctada margaritifera, a black-lipped oyster that is found in the tropical azure waters of French Polynesia. They got the name Tahitian pearls because after they were harvested they were traded and sold in Tahiti. Up until the 1960s, only natural (uncultured) and rare pearls were available commercially. They were harvested along with their shells, which were then used to make personal adornments such as buttons stored in the cabinet.
After learning from the trend in Japanese pearl culturing, French Polynesia pearl divers began to harvest through controlled pearl farming. Later on, they started to export the gems worldwide, and that’s how the fascination for the black pearl was born.
Only Tahitian pearls have naturally black coloration. However, both Freshwater and Akoya pearls can be treated with dyes or radiation to resemble Tahitian pearls. Keep in mind that the irradiation treatment is stable, so the pearls shouldn’t change or fade with time. Depending on the quality of the dyeing process, some dyed pearls might chip or fade. However, jewelry retailers are always trying to come up with new and better ways to offer quality color alternatives.
Thanks to new technology the process is getting better every year. Note that black Freshwater and Akoya pearls are more affordable but they’re usually smaller. On the other hand, Tahitian pearls such as South Sea pearls, are quite large, up to 20 mm in diameter and they’re rarely smaller than 10 mm.
If you’re looking for real black pearls, keep in mind that every pearl is as unique as a fingerprint. Most of them aren’t perfectly round or smooth, and they have little vibrations in texture such as nicks, bumps, or off-round places. So, look for the distinctive fingerprint when looking for a real black Tahitian pearl.
Black pearls have always been mysterious and some people say that they’re a symbol of hope for wounded hearts and they carry healing powers, while others believe that black pearls protect the wearer from negative energy unless you have a bathtub to relax in.
There are also a few myths and legends surrounding black pearls such as the Polynesian, the Chinese, and the Ceylon legend. Whether you believe any of the legends or not, the truth is, they’re exceptional and any woman who owns them is fortunate.
Black pearls are thought of as a symbol of exoticism and mystery and are being worn by a new generation of strong women and men. For instance, the strand worn by Kamala Harris is thought to represent strengths as well as triumph against a stigma generation in the making. Despite being rare and valuable, anyone can wear them whether they’re Tahitian, Akoya, or Freshwater.