Although Tahiti pearls carry the name of the famous Tahiti Island they do not come from Tahiti. Tahiti is the main trading post for atolls that produce Tahiti pearls. Black-lip pearls are farmed in French Polynesia, the Cook Islands, the Micronesian Islands, and even to some extent, Japan, Thailand, and the Philippines, but only those grown in French Polynesia may be called Tahiti pearls.
Tahitian pearls come in a range of colors from white to black. They can contain various undertones and overtones of green, pink, blue, silver and yellow. The most valuable of these are of the darker variety, as the naturally dark tones of the Tahitian pearls is a unique quality among pearls. A true black Tahitian pearl is extremely rare, and largely considered one of the most beautiful kinds of pearls in the world. Most Tahitian pearls that are identified as “black” are actually charcoal grey, silver, or dark green.
Beautiful Tahiti pearls are among the largest pearls in the world, ranging in size from approximately 8 mm to 18 mm. The only larger commercially harvested pearls today are South Sea. The beauty of Tahiti pearls, however, is not limited to their size, but their incredible array of iridescent colors. Tahit pearls are the only pearls that have a full color spectrum. Black-lip pearl oysters have a rainbow-like mantle which exhibits all natural colors. These colors are expressed in Tahiti pearls in a magical way with colors shimmering over the surface of some of the best specimens.
Because Tahiti pearls are bead nucleated many of them are round, or near round, with other shapes expressed in drops, baroques, button and circled pearls. When all other factors are equal, round Tahiti pearls are the most valuable.