Jewelry made from the Tahitian black pearl is some of the most sought after in the world, and for good reason – black pearls are rare. To assist jewelry buyers in selecting only the finest black pearls, the Groupement d’Intérêt Economique Perles de Tahiti, known in English as the GIE Tahiti Pearls, created a set of standards broken down into four categories: size, shape, quality and color. Size – The majority of Tahitian black pearls used in today’s jewelry range in size from 9mm up to 12mm. The rarest and most expensive of these pearls can be as large as 18 millimeters. Shape – The shape of the pearl often determines in what kind of jewelry it is used; necklace, bracelet or earrings. The five shape categories are Round, Semi-round, Semi-baroque, Baroque and Circled. Quality – Perhaps the most difficult of the categories, but the GIE has determined what to look for, including imperfections in the surface and the luster. The best quality black pearls will shine, sparkle and reflect light. The are placed in one of the following four sub-categories:
- A – Visible imperfections on less than 10 percent of the surface and a brilliant luster.
- B – Less than 1/3 of the surface shows imperfections, with a regular luster.
- C – Regular luster with imperfections on less than 2/3 of the surface.
- D – Dull luster and imperfections on 2/3 or more of the surface.
Keep in mind, however, that even the lower-grade black pearls are sought after my jewelry makers worldwide. Color – Tahitian black pearls naturally come in a wide array of colors, ranging from black or gray with overtones of lunar blue, silver, gold, gray-pink, peacock green, eggplant and rainbow. Regardless of the color, size, or quality, black pearls make some of the most striking jewelry on the market today.