Black pearls are among the most magnificent creations of nature. They are fashioned in the turquoise lagoons surrounding the islands of French Polynesia. They are often considered to be the offspring of Tahiti and are therefore known by the name of Tahitian pearls. These pearls are formed by pearl oysters, the Pinctata margaritifera. What makes them unique is their natural black color. Most of them are not actually black, but mostly dark gray or silvery, some of them have an olive-green hue.
Due to these complicated hues, the imitations of black pearls are easily recognizable and consequently very few. This makes the dark Tahitian jewels more valuable.
True black pearls are extremely rare. The very shell of the oyster and its mother-of-pearl insides are very beautiful themselves, which explains why they were almost brought to extinction in the early 20th century.
The cultivation of black pearls is an important branch in the economy, tourism, and culture of Tahiti and a big part of the lives of its people. This is why it is done under extremely high standards and quality control.
Jewels derived from the sea have long been a part of legends, the object of songs, and the topic of poems. For centuries Tahiti and the isles around it have had the reputation of a mythical paradise. Tahitian black pearls are considered a symbol of purity and perfection. Long before they were discovered by the western civilization, these dark jewels were revered as a sign of nobility and beauty.
In imperial China, the black pearl was defined as a symbol of wisdom. Being so, it was guarded by dragons, who wore it between their teeth.
Hindu writers associated the pearls with clouds, elephants, and snakes.
In the Orient, pearls were thought to be the tears of angels, mermaids, or mythical villas.
In Ceylon, there is a popular legend that tells of a lake created by the tears of Adam and Eve. The pearls found in this lake were white or pink – they came from the tears of Eve, and the nobler and rarer black or gray pearls were thought to be born of the manly tears of Adam.