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Tahitian Pearls

The different sizes of Tahitian black pearls

The shape and size of Tahitian black pearls are some of the criteria used to determine an individual pearl’s value. The larger and rounder a pearl is, the more it will be considered a gem of quality.

The different sizes of Tahitian black pearls

Facts and figures

The size of Tahitian pearls is measured in millimetres. They range from the smallest, around 1 mm, to the largest, approximately 20 mm. The pearls generally measure between 8 and 14 mm. Some of these black pearls reach 16 mm to 18 mm. Pearls of that size are considered very rare and are therefore incredibly valuable.

The largest diameter pearl on record is 26 mm. Tahitian pearls that reach and exceed 20 mm are considered to be exceptional, very rare gems, regardless of their surface quality and color.

The Tahitian pearl is the most famous in the world. It is a medium sized pearl, it is not as large as the white and golden Australian pearl yet bigger than the white Japanese pearl.

Does the size of the oyster matter?

Pinctada margaritifera oysters that are used for culturing Tahitian black pearls measure between 4 and 6 inches. The nucleus or bead that is inserted into the pearl oyster measures between 5 and 16 mm diameters.

Tahitian black pearl size and selecting jewelry

Deciding on which size Tahitian black pearl you want to be the centerpiece of your jewelry can be difficult. Here are a few tips that will help you decide which piece you wish to purchase. Our passion and experience with Tahitian pearls should only serve as a guide, don’t forget that if you are drawn to a certain pearl that you should listen to your instincts.

Tahitian black pearls with a diameter of 7 mm

Tahitian pearls of this size (minimum size on the AOC Tahitian pearl chart) are ideal for jewelry intended for teenage girls and young women around 25 - 30 years old. They are also perfect as a first gift of cultured pearls such as a bracelet or necklace.

7 - 9 mm in diameter

This is the classic size for a pearl. Pearls of this size are versatile and modern while maintaining their timeless appeal. They can be worn to any occasion.

9 - 12 mm in diameter

This size is considered to be prestigious in the world of Tahitian black pearls. As the pearls increase in size, so too does the price and prestige of the jewels crafted with them. They are particularly suitable for creating eye-catching women’s jewelry such as pendants, earrings and rings.

13 - 15 mm in diameter

This category consists of superior and exceptional pearls. These Tahitian black pearls are large, luxurious and extremely rare. They are used to craft high-end jewelry.

Is it possible to determine the size of a pearl?

The important role the nucleus plays

People often wonder if you can determine the size of a future pearl. The answer to this question is yes, but it all depends on the expertise of the technician who is performing the graft.
A pearl is created naturally when a foreign body, like a piece of sand, enters the pearl sack. Pearl farming mimics this process by placing a small bead made from the shell of a giant mussel into the oyster’s pearl sack. It should be noted that all pearls (Tahitian, Japanese, Australian, South Sea pearls) are created using the same type of nucleus, which are cut from the shells of the Mississippi Delta mussel also known as the Mississippi Pigtoe Mussel.
The size of the oyster and the nucleus determines the size of the Tahitian black pearl that will be produced.

Years of hard & delicate work

If an oyster creates a pearl with exceptional qualities such as size or color, the oyster can be used to do a second graft, creating an even larger pearl than the first. This is meticulous work that requires years of practice and skills.

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