Tahitian Pearls are considered among the finest on the planet.
The magnificent Black Pearls of Tahiti.
It is a wonderful fact that a selection of nature's most magnificent creations are born in the turquoise-colored lagoons of some of the many islands and atolls that comprise French Polynesia...
These natural creations are known as Tahitian black pearls, veritable jewels of the sea, and living symbols of purity and perfection found in a paradise.
The Tahitian black pearl is such an important part of the Polynesian culture, economy, and lifestyle that Tahiti Sun Travel has created this special section to tell you all about these shiny little Tahitian delights.
This page is your starting point to learning all about these famous treasures of the Pacific.
Defining the Tahitian Cultured Pearl
Just how does one go about defining the "Tahitian Cultured Pearl"? For the average "pearl ignorant" shopper, the answer is not as definitive as one might assume...
In fact, over time, thousands of different words and descriptions have been applied to the famous pearls from Tahiti.
"Natural expressions of art", or "historic and vital aspects of Tahitian culture" are but a few of many possible descriptions, but in "official terms", the French Polynesian trade association GIE Tahiti Pearls has some specific guidelines and criteria that apply to the term "Tahitian cultured pearl".
The first is that the term "Tahiti Cultured Pearl" is reserved exclusively for cultured pearls obtained from grafting the locally cultivated Pinctada Margaritifera pearl oyster species.
In fact, Tahiti cultured pearls are pearl concretions that are secreted inside the black-lipped Pinctada Margaritifera species of pearl oysters cultivated mainly in the lagoons of French Polynesia. They consist of thick pearly layers containing organic substances and calcium carbonate in the form of aragonite.
Second is that the pearls must have a continuous pearly layer over at least 80% of their surface and not reveal either the nucleus or the seed of the nucleus.
The pearls are characterized by a diversity of shapes, diameters, qualities and several shades of natural colors ranging from pale gray to anthracite black.
Any other merchandise that does not satisfy such criteria may not "officially" be called a "Tahiti Cultured Pearl" (according to GIE Tahiti Pearls) and will be deemed a rejected pearl.
Rejected pearls official criteria:
- pearls whose milky loss of normal pigmentation marks over more than 20% of its surface
- pearls with no luster, resulting in a dull surface
- pearls with deep imperfections on more than half of their surface
- pearls with both deep and light imperfections on more than half of their surface.
Learn more about official pearl definitions and descriptions and how to choose them by following these links:
Choosing Your Pearls- Overview | Notes on: Diameter | Shape | Quality & Color
G.I.E. Tahiti Pearls
GIE Tahiti Pearls, (aka: the Groupement d'Intérêt Economique Perles de Tahiti), is a special non-profit economic interest group created in 1993 by the French Polynesian government, with the aim of promoting Tahitian pearls and their by-products in overseas markets.
Located in downtown Papeete, (B.P. 20470, Papeete - Tahiti)
Telephone- (689) 45.03.03, Fax. (689) 45.04.50
Note: As of midyear 2009, it seems GIE Tahiti Pearls is still in a somewhat fragile state of existence.
Read about the future of the GIE at this pearl related blog, and this online pearl information source.
There are five other organizations working with G.I.E. Tahiti Pearls:
1) World Cultured Pearl Organization (WPO)
Akasaka KS. Building 5th Floor, 1-4-1 Akasaka, Minato-ku, Tokyo 107, Japan. Tel./Fax (81) 3-5561-9511.
2) Gemological Institute of America (GIA)
The Robert Mouawad Campus, 5345 Armada Drive, Carlsbad, CA 92008. Tel. (760) 603-4567. Fax (760) 603-4550.
3) GIA/ Gem Trade Laboratory
580 Fifth Avenue, New York, N.Y. 10036-4794. Tel. (212) 221-5858. Fax (212) 575-3095.
4) Jewelers of America
777 108th Avenue NE, Suite 600, Bellevue, Wash. 98040-5195. Tel. (425) 646-4858. Fax (425) 990-7938.
5) Association of Jewellery and Pearl Professionals (CSBP)
Promotes Tahitian cultured pearls in Tahiti & Her Islands.
Centre d'Affaires Polynésien, 171 Ave. Prince Hinoi, B.P. 51561, Pirae, Tahiti, French Polynesia.
Before shopping for pearls or when looking for something interesting to do in downtown Papeete, we recommend visiting the Pearl Museum. It's inexpensive, only takes a few minutes, and you'll learn a lot of interesting things about Pearls!
Le Musee de la Perle (A Tahiti Perles Company)
B.P. 7, 98713 Papeete, Tahiti - French Polynesia
Telephone- (689) 45.21.22, Fax- (689) 45.48.92
This small pearl museum features history, science, art, and mythology surrounding the amazing Tahitian Black Pearl.
Open Monday- Saturday from 8 am to 7 pm, and Sundays from 9 am to 7 pm.
Located in Downtown Papeete at the Centre Vaima
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