Freshwater Black Pearls VS. Tahitian Black Pearls

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My Two Favorite Things

My dear friend Julie called me up last Sunday to meet her at The Pearl Girls so her sister and Mamma could come shop. I love helping people choose pearls because I get to make new friends and I get to run my mouth about pearls! Two of my favorite things!! So, in the course of talking about pearls they asked me if I could tell the difference between freshwater black pearls versus Tahitian black pearls. What a great question and one that I thought would interest many of you… Freshwater black pearls versus Tahitian black pearls, what is the difference?

Freshwater black pearls versus Tahitian black pearls - can you tell the difference

A Note on the Colors of Pearls

Can you see the difference in these black pearls? When I visited my first Tahitian black pearl farm last year I marveled at the gorgeous variation of colors of the Tahitian black pearls. Up until that point, I had worked primarily with freshwater black pearls which have a wide variety of pearl colors. Here is why: Pearls are not uniform in color. When we say a pearl is white, that is only part of the story. The pearl has undertones and overtones that lend to the overall look of the pearl. Those tones can be cool, like blue or green or warm, like a yellow or pink. This is most apparent when I compare a plain, white mother of pearl bead with a strand of pearls. Here’s a picture from my post, What Color Are White Pearls?

What color are white pearls? - The Pearl Girls

Funny, huh? In this picture the white pearls suddenly do not look so white compared the stark white of the mother of pearl beads! So, pearls have a color range and a depth. So, as you may know from my post about freshwater black pearls, they are dyed! Well, even when you put pearls in dye or heat them or use another type of color treatment, the pearls will not be uniformly colored. There will actually be a range of colors based on the range of tones that already exists in the white pearls.

A Closer Look:

Check out this strand of freshwater black pearls… not so black, are they?

freshwater black pearls by The Pearl Girls

This is a beautiful strand of colored black pearls that truly reflect the layers of color already present in the pearls before they were dyed. Tahitian black pearls have the same layers of color. They even have various names to describe their colors including pistachio and aubergine.

Freshwater VS. Tahitian Black Pearls

So, how can we tell the difference between dyed freshwater pearls and the natural colors of Tahitian black pearls? First, let’s look at size. The above strand of freshwater pearls are 7mm in diameter. You will rarely find a strand of Tahitian pearls that small. The Tahitian black pearls will be larger, averaging 9mm in size, and we rarely find them less than 8mm in size. So size is a big giveaway.

Now, what about larger dyed freshwater pearls? In this case, you must rely solely on the depth of color. This requires a bit more of a trained eye or experience at knowing these pearls. Dyed pearls offer a surface color while Tahitian black pearls’ entire nacre is dark. This, I believe, lends  gravity to Tahitian black pearl that dyed freshwater pearls simply do not have.

When pearls are dyed, the dye will concentrate in the drill hole so that is another way to determine whether you are looking at a freshwater black pearl or a Tahitian black pearl is to look for evidence of the dying process.

Let’s go back to the first image, which of these are freshwater black pearls and which are Tahitian black pearls? The bottom and the top pearls are dyed pearls and the pearls in the middle are the natural colors of Tahitian black pearls!

tahitian black pearls -the pearl girls

Now, in conclusion, I am working with our Tahitian black pearl farm on holiday orders RIGHT NOW! We special order strands for our customers and our farm keeps their top strands just for us. Woo hoo! Pre-order a strand or get in touch if you are interested!!


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