When we think of pearls, we often think about beautiful white or cream coloured pearls. In reality pearls occur in a variety of colours and shapes. Unlike its white and cream brothers and sisters, a black pearl carries a mysterious energy with them. Therefore, these rare, black gems are fast becoming a popular and sought-after piece in the jewellery market.
The Origin of Black Pearls (jewellery)
Natural black pearls are only found in French Polynesia around the island of Tahiti. Therefore, the official name for this pearl is the Tahitian black pearl.
Pearls consist of layers of nacre, which is also found on the inside of the shell of mollusks. The black oyster, called Pinctada Marfaritifera, is the shellfish that creates the black pearl. They occur because the mollusk gets irritated, for example by sea snails that attack the oyster and damage its shell and skin. The skin will then divide and form a pearl sac. The black pearl gets its black color of the organic pigment that is only present in this species. This breeding takes an average of 3 to 5 years but nowadays they will copy them regularly in the lab. The French Polynesian population used to dive for the nacre in the shell and used the pearls as money.
Black vs white pearls
Black pearls (jewellery) are much rarer than white pearls (jewellery). This is because only one specie of shellfish can create these black pearls. Compared to the three species that creare tge white pearl. Since the last century, scientists have discovered a certain mechanism through which they can stimulate shellfish, which helps pearls form faster. People could also transform the white pearls into black pearls with paint, chemicals, or laser treatments.
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