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Pearl Education - Please enter your jewelry question or comment. > Tahitian Pearls

Tahitian Pearl Color
07-22-2011, 01:18 PM

When defining the color of a pearl, two major factors are taken into consideration, the bodycolor and the overtone. For white pearls, the color can best be seen when held under direct light on a white background. The center of the pearl, where the light is reflected, will show the overtone. For black pearls, the overtone is more visible under diffuse light.

Early theories attributed color formation to factors such as weather, water quality, depth, or sediment. Modern study shows that the color directly relates to both the inner color of the mollusk it forms in as well as the color of the nucleus that is implanted. Pigment is present in the conchiolin layered in and around the nacreous crystals, which can themselves absorb trace elements from the water they grow in.

Breeding over the years has produced whiter pearls particularly from Akoya oysters, which can also be enhanced by post-harvest processing. Pearls can be naturally bleached in the sun, but are more often enhanced through chemical processes. Pearls need to be drilled before they are dipped, so that the solutions can penetrate the inner layers of the pearl.

Pearls can also be dyed, which often results in color blotches on the pearls surface. A magnifying loupe can also be used on the drill hole, which will often betray irregular stains of color.

The most common overtones for white Akoya pearls are pink and silver, though can also be found in green, yellow, cream, and blue. Australian South Sea pearls, from Pinctada Maxima, come in a range of white to gold, with silvery overtones. The most common black Tahitian pearls, from the Pinctada Margaritifera, come in shades of grey to black with overtones in green, rose, peacock, aubergine, blue, and bronze. Freshwater pearls come in a wider range of more saturated colors such as white, pink, peach, lavender, green, and bronze.

To view a range of pearl colors for the Tahitian Pearl family, please click this link: Tahitian Pearls and for the Akoya Cultured Pearl click here Akoya Pearls

Due to the high variance in color and overtone in these naturally forming gems, the process of matching can be very difficult.

Last edited by pearleducation; 07-25-2011 at 09:52 AM.
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