Commonly called black pearls, the dark Tahitian pearls from the islands of French Polynesia that form within the Pinctada margaritifera cumingii oyster are anything but black; they often abound in rich, natural body colors.
These colors greatly influence the value of Tahitian pearls and have exotic names of their own. Aubergine is the color given to pearls that are dark greyish-purple. Peacock pearls range from deep green-grey to blue-grey with pink to purple overtones. Shades that range from green to yellow are called pistachio.
Especially when describing Tahitian pearls, it is important to note three color characteristics: bodycolor, overtone and orient. All Tahitian pearls display bodycolor, which is the dominant or base color of the pearl. Natural pigments embedded deep within the nacre of the pearl determine this color. Overtone is always secondary to bodycolor, as a translucent color that appears to dance across the pearl’s surface.
If a Tahitian pearl has more than one overtone, the pearl is said to have great iridescence or orient. The complex interaction between light and nacre – the natural substance produced by mollusks to make pearls – creates this rainbow effect. These colors may be vivid greens, blues or pinks. Thick nacre, rich luster, and strong orient are the reasons Tahitian pearls take on an almost metallic sheen.
So what causes differences in Tahitian pearl color? As a natural product, variations arise within individual mollusks and across species. The tissue surrounding the pearl, the thickness of the nacre, the temperature or salinity of the water, and the abundance of food may all influence Tahitian pearl color. The only thing left to resolve is which color is right for you. If you can’t decide, let Spey help. There may just be an eye-catching, multicolor Spey strand that combines the best of Tahitian pearl colors into one stunning addition to your wardrobe.