Black Pearls

Black Pearl Jewelry - Black Pearl Rings - Black Cultured Pearls









Black pearls ( Pinctada margaritifera ) commonly referred to as Black Tahitian Pearls, are also a product of the Cook Islands.

Where as Tahiti has a governemnt run co-operative which markets and finances the marketing budget of these precious gems, the world is aware of the Tahitian product , but somewhat , unaware that the Cook Islands has a product that is equal to and sometimes better than our Tahitian neighbour.

In the Cook Islands black cultured Pearls are produced by family run farms ( Pearl Farms ) and are of equal quality and also highly valued because of their rarity.

Being a smaller player in the world production of Black Cultured Pearls , the Cook Islands Pearls, you will find are of better value when it comes to the price tag.

The culturing process for Black Pearls produces a smaller volume and can not be mass produced. The process of human intervention and changes in the climate and environmental conditions hampers production. Hence the reason that you find this rare gem in high demand.






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Before the days of cultured pearls, black pearls were rare and highly valued for the simple reason that white pearl oysters rarely produced natural black pearls, and black pearl oysters rarely produced any natural pearls at all. Since pearl culture technology, the black pearl oyster found in Tahiti and the Cook Islands has been extensively used for producing cultured pearls. The rarity of the black cultured pearl is now a "comparative" issue. The black cultured pearl is rare when compared to Chinese freshwater cultured pearls, and Japanese and Chinese Akoya cultured pearls, and is more valuable than these pearls.

Black cultured pearls from the black pearl oyster, Pinctada margaritifera are NOT south sea pearls, although they are often mistakenly described as black south sea pearls. In the absence of an official definition for the pearl from the black oyster, these pearls are usually referred to simply as "black pearls".

Every dawn is the start of a busy day on the lagoon, cleaning and caring for the black-lipped oyster, diving or collecting spats (infant oysters). Locals use small outboard boats to travel between villages, or to their pearl farms set up on small coral outcrops. However, time is still found to make brilliant finely woven rito (specially prepared coconut fibre) hats, fans and shell adornments.

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Manihiki is the most accessible of the Northern Group islands, with air services from Rarotonga. But note that the flight time is approximately 4 hours and Air Rarotonga advises that flights are dependant on bookings.

If you are considering exploring Manihiki and the Northern group we advise that you allow for a further two weeks stay in the case of weather delays or flight schedules changing. That you bring supplies to last for the time of your stay and two weeks further and that you prepare for an experience that is like no other, complete and total seclusion in paradise on earth.



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From humble Beginings

- Manihiki - At the heart of our pearl industry, Manihiki is a large atoll with a deep lagoon and sits atop an underwater mountain rising 4000 metres above the ocean floor. The land mass measures just 5.4 kilometres long with a 4 kilometre-wide lagoon laced with 40 tiny motu( islets) which are strung along the reef.

Regarded for its outstanding natural beauty, the lagoon houses the farms for our world-acclaimed and much sort after cultured black pearls. This beautiful atoll is the cultured black pearl capital of the Cook Islands, producing pearls that become centrepieces for fine jewellery worn by women and men worldwide.

Lying 1160 kilometers north of Rarotonga, Polynesians are beleived to have lived on Manihiki since 1500AD, although it was not discovered by Europeans until 1822, when it was sighted bt the US ship Good Hope and named Humphrey Island.

Tauhunu, on the western coast is renowned for its pearl carvers and for the Fare Ariki - one of the old houses still standing after Hurricane Martin struck in Novemeber 1997.

Manihiki is one of two islands in the Cooks Group that produces pearls the other being Penrhyn.

These treasures from the ocean are produced only in the Cook Islands and French Polynesia, and are sought after throughout the world. Much of the population on the island is involved in pearl production in some form or another. Tours can be arranged to the farms to learn aobut the cultivation process, and to watch the seeding of oyster sheels for future pearl harvest.

Every dawn is the start of a busy day on the lagoon, cleaning and caring for the black-lipped oyster, diving or collecting spats (infant oysters). Locals use small outboard boats to travel between villages, or to their pearl farms set up on small coral outcrops. However, time is still found to make brilliant finely woven rito specially prepared coconut fibre hats, fans and shell adornments.

Manihiki is the most accessible of the Northern Group islands, with air services from Rarotonga. But note that the flight time is approximately 4 hours and Air Rarotonga advises that flights are dependant on bookings.

If you are considering exploring Manihiki and the Northern group we advise that you allow for a further two weeks stay in the case of weather delays or flight schedules changing. That you bring supplies to last for the time of your stay and two weeks further and that you prepare for an experience that is like no other, complete and total seclusion in paradise on earth.



The other Pearl Producing Island of the Cooks

Penrhyn - Tongareva The northern most island of the Cook Islands, Penrhyn is located 1365 kilometres from Rarotonga and has the largest lagoon areas of the Cook Island's atolls, covering 233 square kilometres and measuring some 18 miles across with depths of up to 350 feet. The main village is, Omoka located in the west.

Like its nearest neighbour Manihiki, copra production (the drying of coconut flesh for vegetable oil extraction) has now been replaced by pearl farming and shell products as a primary source of income. Known for its golden pearls (poe pipi) and sandy beaches cultured black pearl farming only began here recently.

Penrhyn women make the finest rito craftwork (from young coconut fronds). Hats, bags, fans and mats made here are the best to be found in the Pacific.

Sometimes called by its Maori name Tongareva, this is the most remote of the Cook Islands and almost 4 hours by air from Rarotonga.

Flights are limted and dependant on demand.

Type: About Black Pearls - Classification When harvesting pearls, the farmer performs an initial sort of-this crop, discarding all the rejects. He then performs a more detailed separation of his crop sorting out pearls by size, shape and quality.

Size Pearls are most commonly measured in millimeters.

Shape There are four basic shapes that Black cultured pearls come in:

Round and Semi Round Round pearls are almost-perfect spheres whose diameter variation rate is less than 2 %. Semi round pearls are slightly imperfect spheres whose diameter variation rate is greater than 2 % but less than 5 %.

Semi-Baroque, Semi-baroque exhibits at least one axis of rotation and are subdivided into drop, button, and oval shapes.

Baroque Baroque pearls do not have any axis of rotation and are asymmetrical in shape.

Circled Circled or ringed pearls are characterized by regular streaks or concave rings, perpendicular to an axis of rotation over more than one third of the pearl's surface.





TYPE:

Black Pearl Quality, This is determined by observing the special features of the pearl's surface and luster. Special surface features are considered to be any flaw in the nacre that is visible to the naked eye such as pits, bumps, scratches, deposits, ridges and cracks.

Luster is evaluated according to reflection of light on the pearl's surface. The brighter the reflection, the higher the luster.

Black cultured pearls are defined by four basic qualities: A, B, C, D.

Quality A, An "A Quality" pearl is one that has no surface flaws or very slight flaws that are visible to the naked eye and confined to less than 10% of its surface. All "A Quality" pearls exhibit a very high luster.

Quality B A "B Quality" pearl is one that exhibits high or medium luster with some flaws visible to the naked eye and distributed over less than one third of the surface.

Quality C A "C Quality" pearl is one that exhibits several visible flaws, distributed over more than one third of the surface and exhibits a medium quality luster.

Quality D A "D Quality," pearl is one that exhibits a large amount of visible flaws over more than two thirds of the surface, regardless of luster.






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