Tahiti: land of the French Polynesian pearl
When we hear the word Tahiti images of sun, warmth and lagoons filled with transparent waters instantly comes to mind. In addition to its amazing infrastructures dedicated to tourism, the famous French Polynesian islands have many other assets, including a world-renowned pearl culturing industry, known for its famous Poerava pearl, also known as the Tahitian black pearl.
Tahiti: French Polynesia’s pearl
Tahiti is the largest island of the Society of Islands in French Polynesia, located in the central part of the Pacific Ocean. French Polynesia is made up of four other archipelagos: Tuamotu Archipelago, Marquesas Islands, Gambier Islands and the Austral Islands.
Tahiti is part of the Winward group of islands. It was formed by volcanic activity, is very mountainous and surrounded by coral reefs. It is divided in two, Tahiti Nui (bigger, north western part) and Tahiti Iti (smaller, south eastern part). It is approximately 403 mi2.
An economic hub in the Pacific
The population of Tahiti is approximately 185,000, making it the largest and most populated island in French Polynesia. It is the economic center of French Polynesia. Tourism is one of its main sources of income. It has the only international airport in the region.
Tahiti & French Polynesia: a highly coveted archipelago
The Maori people originally inhabited Tahiti, then it was discovered by the Vikings as well as Portuguese, Dutch, English and French navigators. At the end of the 18th century, the island of Tahiti was colonized by English Protestant missionaries and then acquired the status as a French protectorate in the mid-19th century.
Today Tahiti is considered to be the capital of French Polynesia, where French (the official language) and Tahitian are spoken.
A key business
Today, pearl farming, which consists of cultivating Tahitian pearls, is the second most important economic activity in French Polynesia. Tahiti’s largest economic activity is tourism.
There are many pearl farms within the territory even though pearl farming does not take place on Tahiti. At the end of the 2000s there were more than 1,000 pearl farms spread among 80 different atolls. Today there are approximately 380. French Polynesia is renowned for being one of the only places in the world where you can breed Pinctada margaritifera oysters, which produce the world-renowned Tahitian black pearls.
Creating a harmonious industry
A financial crisis hit the sector at the beginning of the 2000s, shooting the price of a gram of pearls from 100 to less than 5 euros during a 25-year period. Overproduction and disorganized channels of commerce were partly responsible for this radical decrease in price. The industry has improved since then and the Tahitian black pearl is still considered to be the most precious pearl in the world.
Marutea Sud Atoll
Marutea Sud, also known as Marutea-i-runga and Nuku-nui, is an atoll located in the Tuamotu Archipelago, which is part of the commune of Gambier. It is relatively isolated since it is located 45 mi east of Maria, a neighboring island and 913 mi east of Tahiti.
The perfect location for cultivating pearls
Marutea Sud has the perfect habitat for breeding the specific type of oysters that produce Tahitian black pearls. It is 12 mi long and has a maximum width of 5 mi. An atoll is the remnants of a sunken volcano, which becomes a coral formation encircling a lagoon. Marutea Sud’s lagoon is 43 mi².
Marutea Sud: one of French Polynesia’s most important atolls
Cultured black pearl farming began on Marutea Sud at the beginning of the 20th century. At this point in time the industry created 40 tons per year.
The environmental factors and geophysics of Marutea Sud paried with the fact that the lagoon is entirely cut off from the ocean makes it the perfect location for pearl farming, which is authorized on 2,100 acres of the lagoon.
Robert Wan’s estate
The famous entrepreneur Robert Wan was immediately drawn to Marutea Sud’s unique properties when he began working in the cultured pearl farming industry in the early 1970s.
Wan purchased Marutea Sud in 1986, successfully transforming it into his first pearl farm.
The Tuamotu Islands are renowned for their exceptionally pure lagoons and Polynesian pearl farming has always thrived there, even in times of crisis.
Laurent Pereira, founder of Perleria de Tahiti, worked with Robert Wan for many years, gaining priceless inspiration and insight from his mentor. Pereira used this knowledge to create a unique jewelry store, the House of Georgia H., which is located in Andorra.