The production of Black Tahitian Pearls goes back only about 40 years. In 1960 Jean-Marie Domard began by attempting to nucleate large black-lipped oysters (Pinctada Margaritifera). He used similar techniques as used in the Japanese Akoya Pearls Farms. In 1965 he was successful with his first harvest of about 1000 excellent quality large Tahitian Pearls.
As a result of this discovery, the first major Tahitian pearl farm was created on the island of Manihi Atoll in French Polynesia in 1966. By 1968 beautiful spherical cultured pearls were being harvested for commercial sale. Thus the beginning of a new industry in French Polynesia was born.
Tahiti although having no actual farms became the trading capital of the world for Black Tahitian Pearls. In fact these fabulous pearls are cultivated and farmed throughout several small islands dotted throughout the French Polynesian Islands.
Oddly enough this great industry may never have been started had the Black-lipped oyster become extinct. It was only the result of conservation efforts in the 30’s and 40”s which ensured the existence of these treasured creatures. The black-lipped oysters’ “mother of pearl” inner shell also has beautiful qualities which resulted with these oysters being hunted to almost extinction.
Although referred to as the Black Tahitian Pearl, the term black is a little misleading as true black colored Tahitian pearls are exceptionally rare. The Black Tahitian pearls natural color is charcoal, silver and grey along with various combinations and shades of these colors. Some of these shades that you may hear are trade terms like peacock, aubergine, and pistachio. In any color, Tahitian cultured pearls are amazing gems of great beauty creating stunning pieces of pearl jewelry.