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The more Local, more Visual travel guide

Shopping for Black Pearls 

Shopping for Black Pearls 

Pearls used to be something that would occur naturally in about every 500 to 1000 oysters around the world and as such were extremely expensive. These days, pearls are cultured in farms around the world. Each pearl or set of takes about 4 to 7 years to grow before harvest.

Most natural pearls are of a light silver color, and in some countries such as China they have perfected the art of dying the pearl into a range of other colors. However if you want pearls that are naturally colored from the oyster and the minerals found in the waters in which they were grown, then Tahiti is one of the few places in the world to find such a pearl.

In the waters of the various Tahitian islands, there exist chemical traces which naturally give the resulting pearl different colors, from light grey to dark green and a whole lot of shades in between. These are commonly called “Black Pearls” by the layman and “Naturally Coloured Cultured Tahitian Pearls” by professional industry organisations.

Many pearl farms have been setup around the islands since the 80’s and each have their own characteristics. The best of the pearls are then purchased by the large chains and are sold individually or in beautifully designed and crafted jewelry.

There are 3 leading chains in the islands, all with major shops in Papeete town. These are Robert Wan (who even boast their own Pearl Museum), Tahiti Pearl Market, and Tahia Pearls. Each adds their own flavor to the natural pearls.

Lots of other pearl shops and independent retailers do exist if you’re on a budget, but if you’re looking for something special and impressive, you only need to look at these 3 shops.

All your pearl purchases come under the tax free for tourists system, so you will get a receipt which will allow you to get your tax back at the airport before you leave.

If you do wish to visit a pearl shop whilst in the main island of Tahiti, please contact us and we can arrange a free pickup from your hotel. We can even sometimes arrange a special opening of the shop outside of normal business hours.


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