Tahiti - the name alone evokes images of sun-drenched beaches and turquoise waters - a paradise we in Minnesota yearn to escape to come January! These tropical islands are home to one of nature’s magnificent creations - the black pearl. This jewel of the sea has a reputation for exceptional value and rarity, enhanced by its use in jewelry of the world’s royalty and nobility. It has even been nicknamed the “Queen of Pearls." Tahitian pearls are not dyed, yet the color ranges from white to silver-gray to brown to black with the nacre providing overtones of green, purple, red and blue. An unusual phenomenon that is more prevalent in Tahitian pearls than other varieties is the circle or ringed pearl. These pearls have grooves running symmetrically all the way around, perpendicular to the long axis. No one knows for sure what causes the grooves, but consumers love them for their natural look and bargain pricing!
South Seas pearls are graded for color, luster, shape and surface quality. Color ranges from white to golden with the extremes usually being the most expensive. Luster is related to transparency of the nacre with less expensive pearls appearing more chalky. All South Seas pearls are nucleated with a sphere made out of clam shell, but the harvested pearls come in a variety of shapes from spherical to baroque. The more round the pearl is, the higher the value. Surface quality varies from totally smooth to pearls that have small pits or bumps in the surface. While all of these characteristics affect the price of a pearl, the beauty of a pearl is in the eye of the beholder.