French Polynesia: Black Pearls

Originating in the 1960s, the first pearl farm in French Polynesia was on the island of Mahini and was developed by the Rosenthal brothers. The oysters that are farmed for their pearls are called “Pinctada margaritifera,” and their pearls are commonly known as “Tahitian pearls.” The oyster’s shells sport a variety of distinct colors, ranging from mixtures of light grey to dark green and everything in between. The pearls that these oysters produce are a black, which distinguishes them from the more typical white pearls.

In an attempt to protect the oysters from predation, pearl farmers tend to hang the oysters in nets and baskets. They take care of the oysters and clean them regularly to ensure the oysters are of great health to produce cultured pearls. The Polynesian people who graft the oysters for their pearls have great expertise. They take great pride in being able to farm their pearls without causing distress to the oysters themselves.