Tahitian Pearl Necklaces - Cultured Pearls Have Nothing On These

By: Michael Russell

Most people who wear pearls today are wearing cultured pearls but these are not considered to be completely natural. Tahitian pearl necklaces are different in that they are made from completely natural pearls. Cultured pearls are manufactured in the oyster by a shell ball embed, this is artificially placed into the oyster to grow the pearl.

During ancient times there was no such thing as a cultured pearl. The term "Pearl" referred to a 100% natural pearl but now the only person who differentiates from a natural and a cultured pearl is the gemologist, and people think that a "cultured" pearl is the real deal. This is really just a case of ignorance, no more, no less!

As the name suggests these pearls are grown in the warm Pacific Ocean. They are a product of the Black Lipped oyster and the eco system of the warm Pacific waters allows these oysters to grow to a large size. This means that the pearls they produce are also of a much larger size.

Oysters are clever little creatures, but they still have to be farmed for their pearls and the water in which these farms are situated must be kept free of pollution. The waters are managed by pearl farmers, this means they are regularly tested for nutrient value, temperature and other factors. Apart from that the pearls are grown completely naturally.

The substance that creates a pearl is a calcium carbonate secretion known as aragonite. This is also what gives a mother of pearl appearance to the inside of an oyster shell. The oyster constantly secretes aragonite and when a small irritant enters into the oyster the creature secretes this to relieve the irritation from the foreign object.

The layers secreted are approximately 1 micron in thickness (0. 001mm), and the oyster secretes 4 layers of the aragonite around the foreign object every day. If you consider that a black lipped oyster lives for about two years, it will secrete two thousand layers of aragonite. It is because of this that Tahitian pearls are so valuable, they are denser, of a better quality and light reflective. This density makes them shimmer and the colors appear to be far more brilliant than any other pearl.

Specific criteria are used to evaluate the quality of Tahitian pearls, and much like gemstones, the larger they are the more valuable they are. They are generally far bigger than Japanese and Chinese pearls and generally measure from 8 - 14 mm. One of the largest Tahitian pearls recorded is known as the Robert Wan Pearl, and measures 20. 92mm in diameter.

Rough Tahitian pearls are the most sought after, and it is rarely found that these pearls are perfectly circular. The purity of a pearl may be flawed by outer scratches, marks or irregularities.

The range of colors of Tahitian pearls is many and varied, they come in light, dark and in-between overtones and undertones across the spectrum. They are so unique that colors may be matched with other gemstones and precious metals to manufacture spectacular jewelry. The most valuable of all Tahitian pearls is the "peacock" this is a pearl of spectacular beauty which is a dark grey-green with overtones of pearlescent rose. The black variety of these pearls is actually not black, but dark shades of blue, green, grey and even reddish brown, or a mixture of any one of these colors.

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