Today, the most sought-after Tahitian cultured pearls are dark green-gray to blue gray with rosé or purple overtones. But how do pearls get their color? No one is completely sure, but we do know that pearl colors are determined by several factors, including variations in the host oyster, color variation of the implanted donor mussel tissue, the number and thickness of nacre layers, and variations in growing environment such as temperature and water quality. Tahitian pearls are most often variations of gray, black, green and blue, but other colors exist. Search on the Internet for Tahitian cultured pearl images, and you will see they are not all black!
Buying a black pearl necklace
At an average size of 8mm-14mm, Tahitian cultured pearls--especially those specimens that are gem-quality and round--are very expensive. (GIA estimates that one first-quality, unusually large Tahitian cultured pearl will set you back thousands of dollars!) If only one to two percent of the harvest produces a fine quality round Tahitian cultured pearl, imagine how long it takes to make a matched strand! No wonder a black pearl necklace is so costly. Choose carefully, keeping in mind that pearls with a desirable overtone (secondary color) and pearls that are larger than typical will be more expensive. Look for pearls that are well-matched, not pitted or marked in any obvious way (minor surface characteristics are acceptable). Be sure to check return policies up front, too, in case you have a problem. Ask your retail jeweler for his or her store policy or, if buying online, check the site's guarantee prior to making a purchase. Once you receive your pearls, be sure to examine them closely. After wearing, store your pearl necklace away from other gems; while fairly durable, pearls are prone to scratching and their nacre will erode over time, especially if exposed to harsh chemicals like bleach, perfume and chlorine.
Black pearl necklaces in modern fashion
Although slow to catch on at first, thanks in part to publicity from stars such as actress Elizabeth Taylor, a renowned jewelry collector who wore a striking black pearl necklace in publicity photos for her Black Pearls perfume launch, Tahitian cultured pearls are wildly popular today. It's not hard to find examples of fine black pearl jewelry in modern society. Look around and you'll see black pearl necklaces on everyone from businesswomen to moms to Hollywood A-list actresses, models and celebrities. Take Kiera Knightly, for example, who wore a stunning black baroque Tahitian cultured pearl choker at the premier of her movie, The Black Pearl. Stars like Christy Turlington, Naomi Watts, Heidi Klum, Michael Michelle, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Shalom Harlow are also pearl fans.
Perhaps black pearls' popularity is why designers like David Yurman, Elsa Peretti and Paloma Picasso (for Tiffany & Co.) are incorporating stunning black pearls, and even black baroque and black keshi pearls, into modern designs like long chain necklaces, brooches, chokers and charm bracelets. Black pearl drop earrings and pendants are also favorites, as they require little matching--or none at all. Whimsical designs on cufflinks and in popular frog, dragonfly and other animal pins incorporate black pearls as well.
Black pearl necklace alternatives
When most people think of black pearl jewelry, they naturally think of Tahitian cultured pearls. But prices are high for these rare gems, in part due to their large size, unusual colors, and the high cost of producing them. If you want to wear real Tahitian cultured pearls, one way to do so without breaking the bank is to choose a pendant-style necklace with a single pearl; black pearl stud earrings; a single black pearl ring, or black baroque (non-symmetrical) pearls. These designs are every bit as exotic yet much more affordable than a matched black pearl strand.