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Tahitian cultured pearls are often high value on the pearl market. They're bigger than most pearls, are comprised of unusual colors and take more time to produce. Value is also tied to their demand - there are fewer Tahitian pearls produced than Akoyas
An unusually large, extremely high-quality Tahitian cultured pearl can cost thousands of dollars. A bargain when you consider that a graduated strand of 10 mm to 14 mm Tahitian pearls can fetch $30.000 to $40,000 from a retail jeweler! One triple-strand jewelry piece ranging from 12 mm to 15 mm was sold in the late 1980s for $880,000!
Size and Shape
One of the strongest value factors of Tahitian cultured pearls is their size. Most range between 8 mm and 14 mm. Rarely pearls grow into the 16 mm to 18 mm range. In the late 1990s, one specimen was recorded just shy of 27 mm.
Less than 50 percent of any Tahitian cultured pearl crop is actually round, so spherical gems have a much higher value. Tahitian cultured pearls also are more likely to have circles -grooves or rings all the way around them. Although circled pearls have less value, some designers and jewelry lovers value them for their uniqueness.
Color And Luster
|Aubergine - dark grayish purple|
|Peacock - dark green-gray to blue gray with purple or rose overtones|
|Pistachio - yellowish green to greenish yellow|
Color is one of the Tahitian cultured pearl's strongest value factors. The Tahitian trade generally recognizes three color groups. Tahitian pearl farmers experiment with several factors to produce different cultured pearl colors. Every black-lipped oyster produces a different colored pearl. Organic compounds in the shell are speculated to create the color variation. Many pearl farmers will say that the mantle from a donor oyster used in the culturing process, determines the color about 80 percent of the time. The pearl's nacre quality can affect its color as well. Others attribute environmental factors to determining pearl color - like the amount of salt in the water or the quality and quantity of food available to the oysters.
Tahitian pearls have great luster. So great is the luster in most of the pearls that all they take is a little buffing once they are taken from the oyster. Luster generally ranges from fair to excellent. Often the luster produces a metallic sheen and an overtone.
Most Tahitian cultured pearls have a few blemishes, however they can range from spotless to heavily spotted. Most are heavily blemished in one area, which is hidden by the setting or a drill hole.
Most Tahitian cultured pearls have acceptable nacre. Rarely do you find these pearls with visible nuclei or a chalky appearance. In the years the pearl is allowed to cultivate, Tahitian cultured pearls often grow 2 mm of nacre all the way around the bead nucleus.
For Tahitian pearls, the government of French Polynesia has set a minimum nacre thickness of 0.8 millimeters. Any pearls with nacre of less than that thickness are not allowed to be sold. Keeping in mind that Tahitian pearls tend to be larger than many other pearls (such as Akoyas), you can use this rule as a guideline when evaluating your own potential pearl purchases.
More Tahitian Pearl Information:
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