Traveling to French Polynesia A Guide to Buying the Islands Famous Pearls

by Julie on March 9, 2018

Whether you’re heading to Tahiti, Bora Bora, or Moorea, the turquoise waters and white-sand beaches of French Polynesia provide the perfect setting for a dream vacation. While the hundred-plus islands that collectively make up French Polynesia are each certainly special in their own distinct way, they all possess magical landscapes that make French Polynesia one of the most acclaimed vacation destinations in the world year after year. Take Bora Bora, regarded as the “the Romantic Island,” where you can enjoy a romantic getaway as you take in the relaxing tropical ambience in an overwater beach bungalow. Or, if you prefer a bit of adventure as part of your travels, you can hike the numerous scenic trails and scuba dive in the pristine waters of Moorea. Regardless of the island you’re headed to, get ready to be astounded by the astonishing amount of sheer beauty you’re about to experience.

As beautiful and picturesque as the islands of French Polynesia undoubtedly are, they are also famous for cultivating some of the world’s finest pearls. Coral-rich islands in different archipelagos of French Polynesia are world-renowned for their rare Tahitian black pearls that are produced by black-lip pearl oysters. As a result, vacationers who visit French Polynesia often come back with some lavish souvenirs in the form of beautiful pearl jewelry. Unfortunately, however, there a lot of potential scams when it comes to buying pearls, which, needless to say, vacationers absolutely need to avoid. In this article, we put together a guide of tips and tricks to help you make a great purchase of black pearl jewelry during the vacation of your life.

Before You Depart, Get a Feel for What You Want

The process of making a great black pearl purchase will be a lot simpler if you already have an idea of what you’re looking for. Take some time to explore some different pieces of black pearl jewelry on the web before heading over to the islands. This way, you won’t be overwhelmed with options and left confused about what you want. Similarly, if you have an idea of what you’re looking for, you’ll be less susceptible to being sold on a piece that you regret in the long run. Our next section gives you an idea of the characteristics you should consider in a black pearl.

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Pay Attention to Size, Shape, Color, Quality, and Nacre

Tahitian black pearls come in a variety of sizes, shapes, colors, and qualities, all of which make the pearls more or less coveted. First and foremost, it’s important to pay attention to the size of the pearls. Pearls are measured at their narrowest diameter, and typically range between 8 and 14 millimeters (with a small amount of pearls that are between 15 to 18mm). The bigger the pearl, the more expensive it is. Shape is another criteria also important with round pearls being the rarest, followed by semi-round, semi-baroque (pear and oval shaped), baroque, and ringed pearls, in that order.

Despite being called “black” pearls, these pearls actually come in a variety of different hues that can range from a pale gray to a much darker gray that’s nearing a black color. The pearls can also include hints of green, blue, gold, and red. Generally speaking, the rule of thumb is the darker the pearl is, the more desirable it becomes.

Consider the quality of the pearl by focusing on how smooth it is, how many imperfections it has, and luster (or shine) of the pearl. Tahitian black pearls can be given ratings from A to D, with Quality A pearls featuring a smooth surface with a deep glow and Quality D pearls possessing a much softer shine with more dents and other similar flaws. Finally, you need to be cognizant of the nacre, or outer layer, of the pearl. The thicker the nacre, the stronger and more durable the pearl is, and the longer it will last.

Decide on what your budget is, the characteristic of the pearl most desirable for you, and go from there. In all cases, it’s important to be aware and at least have some knowledge about black pearls to avoid getting duped.

Research the Retailer

Doing some window shopping before making any actual purchase is something we would definitely suggest. Stop by a few black pearl retailers until you think you’ve found the piece you truly love, but even then, give yourself some extra time to do some research on the retailer. Whether that means asking hotel concierge about a retailer or running a quick Google search, try to get an understanding of the retailer’s reputation and others’ experiences with them. While this may seem like too much, making the effort will help ensure the purchase of an amazing piece of black pearl jewelry that you will treasure for the rest of your life.

Like most avid shoppers today, browsing for products online is usually the best way to go.  While seeing these gems in Tahiti is a unique experience, often times consumers rather purchase online instead of incurring the high markups of retailers in these exotic destinations.  The trip to Tahiti inspires and educates consumers about the beauty of black pearls, but often times the actual purchase takes place online. One of the leading destinations for high end pearl jewelry is The Pearl Source, which is a premier online experience for everything pearl related.  Other websites include Laguna Pearl, National Pearl, and many others.

Owning a fine black pearl jewelry piece is the perfect way to top off your overall Tahiti experience.  Whether you purchase while in Tahiti or shop online like most, you’ll be on your way to having a piece of French Polynesia in your jewelry box for your next voyage to these stunning islands.

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