Dark matter: Is black pearl a hidden treasure in the world of jewellery?

While white pearls are adored and admired the world over for their pristine beauty, their darker cousin, the black pearl, is a much rarer natural phenomenon. While mythology in the French Polynesia has it that a local god came down from the heavens to bestow the first black pearls on a favoured princess, the reality is far more prosaic.

black pearl

In fact, naturally-occurring black pearls start to grow just like their white counterparts. When an irritant – like sand particles – enters an oyster’s body, it coats it in a layer of calcium carbonate to ease of its discomfort. This then evolves into a pearl, when hardened. The black colour of the pearl, then, depends on the nature of oyster itself – if the oyster is a dark-lipped variety, the pearl forming near the black band takes after its dark hue.

However, what makes black pearls so extremely rare is that dark-lipped oysters themselves are only found in two regions – in French Polynesia, from where black Tahitian pearls are derived, and in Guyamas, Mexico, the place of origin of Sea of Cortez black pearls. Black Akoya and black freshwater pearls can also be found in some cases, but they are most often colour-treated to enhance their dark glow. Check out the gallery below to appreciate some of the black pearl high jewellery pieces from our favourite brands:

Text: Suchetana Mukhopadhyay 
Photo credit: Sami Sarkis