Free 2-Day FedEx On US Orders

*most orders ship in 24hrs

The Tahitian Pearl Buyer's Guide

Tahitian Pearls - The Official Buyer’s Guide      

Your Guide to Tahitian Pearl Information and Education

Tahitian pearls are the epitome of luxury and beauty. Dark and colorful, Tahitian pearls are the only naturally black pearls that have been mesmerizing pearl lovers with their mystique since they first entered the jewelry world in the 1960s.

There is a LOT of information out there about Tahitian pearls but not all of it can be trusted. In this regard, our Tahitian Pearl Buyer’s Guide which is a mix of Tahitian pearl facts, education and information, truthfully answers all your most important questions about these stunning gems.

Written by the pearl experts at Pearls of Joy, this guide looks into Tahitian pearl sizes, colors and overtones as well as gives you more in-depth information regarding pearl grading and farming. In short, it examines everything you need to know before you buy the Tahitian pearl necklace of your dreams.

Tahitian Pearl Basics

Tahitian pearls are large, black pearls cultivated in and around the islands of French Polynesia. They’re known for being the world’s finest, naturally black pearls.

The best Tahitian pearls dazzle with their large sizes and rich, colorful overtones. In fact, our Tahitian pearl collection, which consists of elegant necklaces, earrings, pendants, rings and bracelets, is crafted from top quality Tahitian pearls that enchant with their glamor and beauty.

An ideal choice for anyone looking to buy a piece of statement jewelry, the allure of Tahitian pearls is timeless and just cannot be ignored.


Tahitian Pearl Basics - What You Need to Know

5 Important Facts About Tahitian Pearls

  • Moderate to Large Sizes: Tahitian pearls are one of the larger pearl types out there, and generally range from 8-9mm up to 15-16mm and sometimes even larger.
  • Large Array of Shapes: Tahitian pearls offer a pearl shape for every personality and price point. From rare perfectly round pearls to smooth drop shapes and funky baroques dripping with character. The most sought after are the perfectly round pearls, followed by smooth drops and then baroques of all shapes.
  • Rainbow of Natural Colors: Tahitian pearls are world famous for their dark body colors in shades of charcoal gray to true black. But their most famous attribute is the rainbow of overtones that excite the eye. From colorful peacock to cool shades of tropical greens, blues, eggplant, silver and gold to rose and cherry … Tahitian pearls are guaranteed to offer something for everyone to enjoy.
  • Satin-Like to Mirror-Like Luster: Tahitian pearls have very thick nacre, and generally will feature softer, more satin-like luster. However, most high quality Tahitian pearls, particularly in the smaller size ranges, will display a sharper, highly reflective luster that comes closer to the “mirror-like” shine of the Japanese Akoya.  
  • Tahitian Pearl Type: Tahitian pearls are cultured in the saltwater oyster pinctada margaritifera black-lipped oyster. The p. margaritifera oyster is native to the French Polynesian island chain in the south Pacific Ocean, and can be found as far away as the Philippine islands.  

📢 Read More: How to Buy Pearls

Tahitian Pearl Price Guide

Tahitian pearls are some of the rarest, most valuable, and most expensive, pearls on the planet. A single, large, top quality Tahitian pearl can cost anywhere from $150 - $2000+ USD, while Tahitian pearl jewelry often ranges from $200 USD to $20,000+ USD.

Often pearl buyers are puzzled by Tahitian pearl prices. But these prices are a transparent window into how much Tahitian pearls are really worth.

Tahitian pearls are rare and this rarity makes them valuable and expensive.

The indisputable fact is that Tahitian pearls can only be cultured in a few, remote parts of the world. This is one reason why these pearls are rare and expensive.

Next, Tahitian pearl production involves a considerable investment of time and hence money for a pearl farmer. Cultivated in offshore saltwater pearl farms in the islands of French Polynesia, it takes a minimum of two years from birth for a Tahitian black lip pearl oyster to become mature enough to be bead nucleated and start producing pearls. It then takes a further at least another two years for a pearl to develop.

This extended time, from the birth of the oyster up to the harvest of the pearl adds to the cost of producing each pearl.

Plus, each black lip pearl oyster can produce only one pearl at a time, which is different from Freshwater pearl mussels that can produce up to 30 pearls per shell at harvest.

All these factors explain the rarity of these stunning black Tahitian pearls and hence their high price tag.

The truth is that Tahitian pearls are stunning and quite unlike any other type of cultured pearl. Their colors, size and distinctive iridescence makes them a popular choice for jewelry lovers everywhere. And pearl lovers are happy to pay luxury prices for these superb pearls.

Here is a snapshot of the average price for different Tahitian pearl jewelry styles:


Tahitian Pearl Value

Tahitian Pearl Jewelry Value Chart

  • Tahitian Pearl Necklace Prices: $650 - $25,000+
  • Tahitian Pearl Earring Prices: $250 - $1,500+
  • Tahitian Pearl Pendant Prices: $300 - $3,000+
  • Tahitian Pearl Jewelry Set Prices: $550 - $2,000+
  • Tahitian Pearl Ring prices : $550 - $2,500+

Shop Our Favorite Tahitian Pearls

Where Do Tahitian Pearls Come From?

Tahitian pearls are farmed throughout the tropical lagoons and atolls of the French Polynesian island chain that dots the south Pacific. The pearls are not actually farmed on the island of Tahiti, but Tahiti does act as the major export hub for all Tahitian pearls.

Tahitian Pearl Origins: French Polynesia

Tahitian pearls are grown within the pinctada margaritifera black-lipped saltwater oyster, which can reach the size of a dinner plate when fully grown. The black-lipped oyster is known for being particularly colorful and iridescent.

Tahitian Pearl Origins: Sorting Pearls at Auction

A large mixed lot of colorful Tahitian pearls on a sorting tray at auction overseas. Tahitian pearl auctions are usually held in Japan and Hong Kong.

Tahitian Pearl Origins: Tahitian Pearls at Export

The government of Tahiti is very protective of the Tahitian pearl farming community, and has enacted strict laws regarding quality control of all cultured Tahitian pearls leaving the country. The Tahitian government has long mandated that all Tahitian pearls must have a 0.8m depth of nacre to qualify for export.

Tahitian Pearl Origins: Kevin Canning at Tahitian Pearl Auction

President and founder of Pearls of Joy, Kevin Canning, sorting through loose Tahitian lots with a pearl farming collective representative at bi-annual the Hong Kong Jewellery Show.

Are Tahitian pearls cultured?

Tahitian pearls are cultured pearls and they are primarily cultivated on small, family owned farms and collectives located throughout the picturesque islands of French Polynesia.

Are Tahitian pearls freshwater or saltwater?

Tahitian pearls are saltwater pearls that are cultured on pearl farms located in the protected lagoons and atolls of French Polynesian coastal waters. These sheltered locations ensure that the oysters and their pearls grow in warm, safe and pristine waters.

The oysters are hung from long-lines and allowed to gently drift in the waters to filter feed while the pearls inside them accumulate thicker layers of nacre.

What happens after Tahitian pearls are harvested?

The pearls are harvested after a period of 18-24 months and are only scrubbed clean and polished afterwards.

For the vast majority of Tahitian pearls, the colors you see are totally natural and organically beautiful.

The harvested pearls are then sent to Tahiti to be x-rayed to ensure that their nacre depth is thick enough to qualify for export (0.8m minimum thickness).The pearls are then generally sent to Hong Kong or Japan where they are sold at major gem shows and auctions.

Tahitian Pearl Grading

At Pearls of Joy, we grade all Tahitian pearls on the A – AAAA Grading System, which easily converts from the A – D grading scales that Tahitian farmers use to evaluate their pearls. “A” represents the lowest commercially available grades, and “AAAA” represents the very best of each harvest. While on wholesale grading has "A" as the top grade and "D" as the lowest.

“GEM” quality Tahitian pearls are pulled from “AAAA” quality harvests as being the finest of the class. Gem quality Tahitian pearls are rare, and expensive.  

Use the accordion below to click any grade and view a visual representation of each grade and a breakdown for the major value factors.

The “7 Value Factors” are used by jewelers and pearl specialists to gauge pearl quality, and then price them out. With Tahitian pearls, five factors are used to determine a pearl’s ranking on the A – AAAA Grading Scale. Color is added, "shape" is dropped because any shape can still be graded as "AAAA" as long as the other value factors are there.

A Gem Grade Tahitian Pearl Necklace

Tahitian Pearl Grading Factors:

    • Surface Quality
    • Luster
    • Color
    • Matching
    • Nacre Thickness


Use the accordion below to click any grade and view a visual representation of each grade and a breakdown for the major value factors.

AAAA Quality

Tahitian Pearl Grading: Gem Quality Tahitians

Surface Quality: 95-99% Clean to the Eye. Necklace will appear clean to the eye upon casual inspection. Close inspection will reveal shallow inclusions less than 5% of total strand.

Luster: Excellent / Very Sharp. Detailed Reflections Visible in Surfaces

Color: Vivid, Saturated and Intense Overtones

Matching: Near-Perfect to Perfect for Size, Shape, Body Color, Overtone, Surface Quality and Luster

Nacre Thickness: 0.8mm Minimum / Very Thick

AAA Quality

Tahitian Pearl Grading: AAA Quality Tahitians

Surface Quality: 90% Clean to the Eye. Close inspection will reveal shallow inclusions less than 5% of total strand, 1-2 Deep Inclusions Allowable.

Luster: Excellent to Very High / Moderately Detailed Reflections Visible in Surfaces

Color: Saturated and Very Bright to Intense Overtones

Matching: Very Good to Excellent Matching for Size, Shape, Body Color, Overtone, Surface Quality and Luster

Nacre Thickness: 0.8mm Minimum Depth

AA+ Quality

Tahitian Pearl Grading: AA+ Quality Tahitians

Surface Quality: 75-80% Clean to the Eye. Casual nspection will reveal shallow inclusions less than 15% of total strand, 2-4 Deep Inclusions Allowable.

Luster: High to Very High / Good to Moderately Detailed Reflections Visible in Surfaces

Color: Moderately Saturated and Bright Overtones

Matching: Very Good Matching for Size, Shape, Body Color, Overtone, Surface Quality and Luster

Nacre Thickness: 0.8mm Minimum Depth

AA Quality

Tahitian Pearl Grading: AA Quality Tahitians

Surface Quality: 65-75% Clean to the Eye. Casual inspection will reveal inclusions less than 35% of total strand, Moderate and Deep Inclusions Allowable.

Luster: Medium to High / Low to Moderately Detailed Reflections Visible in Surfaces

Color: Moderately Saturated and Bright Overtones

Matching: Good Matching for Size, Shape, Body Color, Overtone, Surface Quality and Luster

Nacre Thickness: 0.8mm Minimum Depth

A Quality

Tahitian Pearl Grading: A Quality Tahitians

Surface Quality: 55-65% Clean to the Eye. Casual inspection will reveal inclusions less than 45% of total strand, Moderate and Deep Inclusions Allowable.

Luster: Low to Medium / Low to Moderately Detailed Reflections Visible in Surfaces

Color: Low to Moderately Saturated and Overtones

Matching: Fari to Good Matching for Size, Shape, Body Color, Overtone, Surface Quality and Luster

Nacre Thickness: 0.8mm Minimum Depth

Tahitian Pearl Sizes

Tahitian Pearl Sizes Compared to US Nickel

Tahitian pearls range from moderate to large pearl sizes and are considered one of the largest pearls. Averages range from 8mm up through 16mm and even larger.

The most common and popular size range is around 9-12mm. Anything larger and you'll see dramatic increases in price - but these can be absolutely stunning if they’re within your budget.


Shop Our Most Popular Tahitian Pearl Earrings

Tahitian Pearl Shapes

The variety of pearl shapes that Tahitian pearls are available in can be astounding to jewelry shoppers not familiar with the more exotic pearl types. Perfectly round Tahitian pearls are the most rare, and account for a tiny fraction of each year’s harvests, with symmetrical drops, buttons, baroques, circles and more making up the majority of the pearls recovered each year.

Tahitian pearl shapes can be broken down into the following categories:

  • Round
  • Semi-Round
  • Drop
  • Baroque
  • Circle
  • Free-From Baroque
Pearl Shapes: Perfectly Round Tahitian Pearls

Perfectly round Tahitian pearls are the most rare of all pearl shapes, and the most valuable. Round Tahitians represent less than 10% of each harvest.

Pearl Shapes: Drop-Shape Tahitian Pearls

Smooth, symmetrical Tahitian drop shaped pearls can take the form of ovals, barrel shapes and classical tear drops. Because drop shapes have so much variation, sourcing perfectly matched drops for earrings or matched sets is harder, and fine pearl jewelry featuring perfectly matched, large drops can go for a premium price.

Pearl Shapes: Baroque Tahitian Pearls

Baroque Tahitian pearls account for somewhere around 40% of each Tahitian harvest. Baroque pearl necklaces can be wonderful in their variety and unique beauty, featuring circles, pointed tips and much, much more.

Pearl Shapes: Circled Baroque Tahitian Pearls

Circled baroque Tahitian pearls are a part of the baroque pearl shape family, but stand apart because these pearls are almost entirely ringed by concentric circles over the entire surface. Overtones can become heavily concentrated within the circles, giving these pearls a “painted” look.

Pearl Shapes: Freeform Baroque Tahitian Pearls

Freeform baroque pearls feature wonky, asymmetrical shapes … they are the freewheeling artistic aunts of all the pearl shapes. Often freeform baroques will feature pearl surfaces that look heavily textured, with uneven luster and overtone levels that can be very intense.

Why You Might Want To Consider Baroque Tahitian Pearls

Tahitian Pearl Colors

Tahitian Pearl Colors

This rainbow of colors Tahitian pearls possess is what makes them so famous around the world today.


Tahitian pearls are probably THE most colorful pearls in the world today … the endless variety that is presented to pearl shoppers is one of the most attractive and well-known attributes of Tahitian pearls.

Pearl color is broken into two major parts:Body Color and Overtone


Tahitian Pearl Body Color

Tahitian pearls can come in black, gray, green, blue, purple, and peacock varieties. But their natural colors have more complexity than what appears at first sight.

Tahitian Pearl Colors: Major Body Colors

Tahitian, which are also called “black pearls” aren’t really black but show up most often in a large range of dark gray body colors, tinged with colorful overtones that can be soft and shimmering or intense and vivid. The important thing to note here is that these colors are all natural and not treated or enhanced in any way.


Tahitian Pearl Overtone Colors

Tahitian pearls are famous for their colorful overtones … that’s what makes these pearls so unique and so sought after. Because Tahitian pearls cover a range of body color and overtone combinations, the variety of color you can see is nearly endless … no two pearls are exactly alike.

Tahitian Pearl Overtones: Classic Peacock

An example of a “classic” peacock overtone in front, over a medium charcoal gray body color. Behind is another variation of peacock featuring a much higher concentration of rose over a nearly black body color.

Tahitian Pearl Overtones: Green to Blue-Green Overtones

Green to blue-green overtones are some of the most common Tahitian pearl overtones you’ll come across today. These pearls feature a cool green to blue-green overtones over dark charcoal gray body colors. Tints of other colors are also present.

Tahitian Pearl Overtones: Silver and Steel

A silver overtone shown on freeform baroque Tahitian pearls … these pearls are tinted with darker blues and rose hues.

Tahitian Pearl Overtones: Multi-Colors Pearls

Multi-colored Tahitian pearl necklaces are eclectic and incredibly eye-catching, and as varied as it’s possible to get. Multi-color Tahitian strands are exactly what they sound like, and feature a range of light to dark body colors and a mix of overtones throughout.

Tahitian Pearl Overtones: Fancy Colors

“Fancies” are Tahitian pearl overtones that are rare and super saturated … some of the most famous “Fancy” colors are: eggplant, pistachio, bronze, chocolate, cherry and midnight blue.  

The most famous Tahitian overtones are:

  • Peacock:“Peacock” is the most famous of all Tahitian pearl overtones. It shows up as a mix of green, rose and gold colors … the Peacock overtone has many variations depending on how warm or cool the green colors are, and how much rose or gold is present.
  • Green to Blue-Green: Probably the most common Tahitian pearl overtone. These can also be warm or cool, dark and saturated or pale and shimmery.
  • Cherry and Aubergine:These pearls have distinct pink and purple overtones that make them quite lovely.
  • Silver to Steel: the Silver and Steel overtones are also very common, and usually show up as a whitish patina over the base body color. The best Silver colored pearls feature an overtone laid over a light gray body color, and may feature additional tints of blue-green and green. Steel overtones are very commonly seen in larger pearls.

How to Tell if Tahitian Pearls Are Real?

Tahitian pearls are one of the most beautiful, luxury cultured pearls available today. They are renowned for their incredible colors, iridescent luster as well as large sizes.

Because of their desirability, many disreputable sellers offer fake pearls as real Tahitians. Fake pearls often consist of plastic or glass beads with a shiny coating that are perfectly spherical in shape.

To novice buyers, these pearls may look like Tahitians. But, with the right know-how, it’s easy to spot a fake pearl from a real Tahitian pearl.  

Here are few easy ways to tell a fake pearl from a real Tahitian:

The Tooth Test

Lightly rub the pearl against your tooth. If the surface feels gritty or sandy, the pearl is real. If it feels too slippery smooth, the pearl could be fake.

Rub two pearls against each other

Gently rub two pearls against each other. Real Tahitian pearls will produce some powdery dust. Fake pearls will not produce any dust.

Weight of Real Pearls

Real Tahitians will have more heft when held in the palm of your hand. Fake pearls may feel lighter in the palm.

Iridescence of Real Tahitian Pearls

Real black Tahitian pearls are loved for their incredible iridescence and colorful overtones, which change as you move the pearl and light hits its surface at different angles. Fake pearls have a flat color which shows no difference when light interacts with their surface at different angles.


Caring for Tahitian Pearls

8 Simple Rules for Caring for Tahitian Pearls

Pearls on Last: make sure that your pearl jewelry is the last part of your outfit you put on. This is after all cosmetics, perfumes, hairspray, etc., and then the pearls can be added. This gives the pearls a chance to avoid being exposed to any chemicals and possibly discoloring over time.

After Care: after you’re done wearing your pearls for the day, it’s a good practice to wipe them down with a soft, slightly damp cloth. This helps remove any residues like sweat, oil or other chemicals they may have picked up from the day.

Storing Necklaces: it’s best to lay your necklaces down flat in your jewelry box rather than hang them on a hook when you’re done wearing them, as this stops the silk knotting from stretching out in between each pearl. Pearls should be stored away from other jewelry with sharp metal components to prevent surface scratches.  

Restring Your Pearls: another great way to keep your pearl necklaces and bracelets looking their best is to get them professionally restrung once a year to once every two – three years or so, depending on often you wear them. Restringing your pearls keeps the knots fresh, tight and non-frayed.

Avoid Swimming and Showers: while pearls were born in the water, modern additives like chlorine is really not ideal for pearls. In addition to possibly discoloring the pearls due to repeated, long-term exposure, the chemicals in the water also eat holes in the adhesives used to secure pearl pendants, earrings and rings to their mountings. Remove your pearl ring and set it in a safe place before washing your hands or doing the dishes as well.

Avoid Harsh Chemical Exposure: other chemicals can also harm your delicate pearls … avoid exposure to hydrogen peroxide, chemical bleaches and other dyes.

Avoid Ultrasonic Cleaners: Never clean your pearls in an ultrasonic cleaner as that can permanently damage your pearls.

Avoid Storage Deposit Boxes or Airtight Containers: Pearls require moisture in order to retain their beauty and structural integrity, so airtight environments are deadly to pearls. There have been stories of pearls left in bank deposit boxes for safekeeping, only to open the box twenty years down the line to find pearl dust.

Wear Your Pearls: Like we said, pearls love moisture and will benefit from absorbing the oils in your skin, which will help moisturize the nacre layers and aragonite (think organic glue) holding the layers together, keeping everything nice and lustrous.

Tahitian Pearl Jewelry Style Guide      

Tahitian pearl jewelry offers something for everyone to admire. From classic strand necklaces to longer baroque pearl ropes, dazzling pearl and diamond earrings, pendants and stunning matched Tahitian pearl sets, Pearls of Joy offers an extensive collection of black pearl jewelry at a range of price points from affordable to luxury.

Tahitian pearl necklaces can be both round and baroque, and generally measure out to 18” fully knotted (longer lengths can be made to order!). Each strand is double-knotted on black silk and finished with a 14kt gold clasp of your choice. Shop for Tahitian pearl necklaces here.

Add a touch of the exotic to any wardrobe. From simple pearl stud earrings to dangles and even clip-on styles, Pearls of Joy has something for everyone to love. Every pair of pearl earrings are professionally matched for size, color, overtone, shape and luster, ensuring that your pearl earrings are perfectly matched and dazzlingly elegant. Shop the Tahitian Pearl Earring Collection here.

Tahitian pearl rings are an enchanting and lasting way to showcase your love of pearls. From simple solitaires to diamond engagement designs, Pearls of Joy has a unique and beautiful ring that is sure to bring you joy for years to come. Each black pearl ring is made to order and mounted with a nearly flawless AAA quality Tahitian pearl and is crafted out of solid 14kt gold and diamonds. Shop for your Black Pearl Ring here.

Tahitian pearl pendants are a stunning statement for any woman to wear. Choose from timelessly classic solitaire styles to more luxury level designs sparkling with diamond accents. Each black Tahitian pearl is hand-selected for its high luster, clean surfaces and colorful overtones meant to dazzle any pearl lover. Shop the Tahitian Pearl Pendant Collection here.

Tahitian Pearl Meanings

Tahitian black pearls, with their mysterious aura and unique charm symbolize protection, wealth, beauty and strength. But their most enduring meaning is hope.  

There are also many legends and myths that surround the exotic and alluring Tahitian pearl.

According to one French Polynesian legend, Oro, the God of War as well as of Fertility and Peace, offered a black pearl to the princess of Bora Bora as a token of his love. In another French Polynesian legend, Oro gave two mythical pearls to his princess – an exceptionally beautiful peacock Tahitian pearl and a sculpted, circlé Tahitian pearl.

In another legend, the Moon bathes in the ocean, attracting oysters to its light. As these oysters come to the surface, the Moon bestows heavenly dew upon these oysters which in time become Tahitian pearls with blue, green, gold and cherry overtones.  

In Chinese mythology, a black pearl was formed in the head of a dragon, thus symbolizing wisdom and intelligence.

The ancient Greeks and Romans, by contrast, believed that black pearls were formed where a rainbow met the earth.


So, Why Buy Tahitian Pearls?

Cultured Tahitian pearls are one of the most attractive and enchanting cultured pearls. With their dark and shimmering body colors, fabulously colorful overtones and striking iridescence, they have captured the hearts of countless jewelry lovers since they first debuted in the jewelry world. Elegant and sophisticated, the Tahitian pearl jewelry at Pearls of Joy is a must-have for every jewelry collection.

The Perfect Strand of Black Pearls

Fine Black Tahitian Pearls

Exotic Black Pearls Without The 10x Markup?...

...Is it possible?

Our direct-to-consumer business model means the same quality as the big luxury brands, but a fraction of the cost.  

Ready To Learn More? Visit:

Sign Up for Instant Savings!

Get it Quick

Free 2-Day FedEx on all orders within the USA. Overnight delivery options start at $35.

Orders Ship Fast

Most orders ship within 1-2 business days, sometimes same day.

We Ship Worldwide

International shipping is affordable and fast. Most international packages arrive in 2-4 business days.

Worry Free Delivery

Your package is fully insured. If your order is lost or stolen before delivery, we got you covered.