#thisispearl Nov. 2021 - Page 27

“I have sold Baggins jewelry for 15 years. Anil provides us with the best quality and service for cultured pearls. Baggin's Tahitian pearl jewelry collection is its biggest strength, and a close second is fashion classics in akoya cultured pearls. His Tin Cup styles are very popular with our shoppers. His customer service is fantastic, and he can overnight something to us in a pinch. He is a wonderful supplier.”

Ladye Ann Miller, vice president, Haltoms, Grapevine and Fort Worth, Texas

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What Was Jewelry Like Before the Tahitian Black Pearl? Industry Titans Weigh in ...


Pamela Froman, founder, Pamela Froman Fine Jewelry

“I think there is a regal elegance that a black Tahitian pearl has, especially when it has an amazing luster on it. I love how black pearls look with all colors of 18k gold—white, pink, yellow, and

green. Sometimes when I am creating earrings, I know if I add pearls to the design, the earring will come together and stand out. And black pearls are like the icing on the cake. Black pearls look great with a suit, jeans and a T-shirt, or a fancy dress.”

David Norman, owner, Aquarian Pearls

“The point of difference with Tahitian pearls is the color and the vast array of color! Traditionally called black pearls, Tahitian pearls are anything but pure black. The natural colors formed by the oyster are absolutely amazing—from greens to blues to pinks, red, brown, silver, aubergine, and pistachio. And sometimes all these colors are in one pearl. Mother Nature is truly incredible!”

Rui Galopim de Carvalho, FGA DGA, founder of the Portugal Gemas Academy, gem education consultant, CIBJO (The World Jewellery Confederation) vice president, and associate editor of The Journal of Gemmology

“Tahitian pearls brought not only a consistent supply of darker nacreous cultured pearls—notably those lovely peacock-colored ones—to market, but also the acceptance of multi-colored strands after Robert Wan’s decision to mix different colors many years ago. Up until the arrival of cultured Tahitian black pearls, only smaller treated akoya cultured pearls were available in commercial quantities in the darker colors.

A little-known fact about Polynesia’s contributions to the pearling history is that biologist Bouchon Bradley managed to grow cultured blisters as early as 1884, before Mikimoto started his experiments in Japan. The Chinese were producing similar products but in freshwater mussels, while Bouchon was producing his in saltwater pearl oysters. This means that Polynesia is at the very beginning of cultured pearl history.”

Betty Sue King, owner, King’s Ransom Pearls

“When multicolor Tahitian strands were new in the marketplace, sourcing one was a goal on a buying trip. At dusk on one such trip, I saw an exceptional round 11–15 mm strand commanding a five-figure price. Daylight was waning so I arranged to return the next day to review it in daylight. That night I dreamed who was going to sell it. Although the next day was overcast, I returned to see the pearls and was still drawn to the beautiful color composition. Emboldened by my dream, I purchased the strand, relaying my nighttime vision to the supplier. I then displayed it at the AGTA Tucson GemFair. The person in my dream took it on memo and sold the strand. The supplier relays this story to this day, and I still marvel at the memory. Dreams do come true.”

Christopher Walling, Christopher English Walling Fine Jewelry

“The three-strand necklace of natural black pearls that Prince Sadruddin Aga Khan—whom I knew—gave to the beautiful Nina Dyer when they were married is probably the most famous black pearl necklace in the world! It piqued my interest in black pearls from a very young age, as did a book my parents gave me about treasure hunting when I was about nine. The book included a story about diving for black pearls.”

Stuart Robertson, research director, The GemGuide

“The introduction of Tahitian black cultured pearls began a process that would culminate in market acceptance of a dramatic new pearl product symbolic of true elegance. The large black and gray pearls were quite different from the pearl industry staples of that day. Today, Tahitian pearl producers continue to reward the international jewelry industry with beautiful pearls, featuring a previously unprecedented palette of vibrant overtones and exotic body colors, just as they have for decades. Terms like peacock, aubergine, pistachio, or gun metal blue are just a few terms from a wide array of Tahitian pearl colors encountered in the market. When these exotic colors occur in pearls of the highest luster and finest surface qualities, we’re reminded why Tahitian pearls have no comparable!”

Doug Hucker, CEO, American Gem Trade Association 

“Anything that is black is a good fashion element! And for a long time, pearls were just white. Black cultured pearls were a whole new concept, and the fact that they came with location and name, like some gemstones, was very romantic. When you think of Tahitian pearls, you think of skirted women with flowers in their hair! Black pearls just changed the landscape dramatically because you had a whole new set of colors. In fashion, black is a gender-bending neutral that even men can respond positively to. Tahitian black pearls are a beautiful, special category that collectors react to; people who are in the know about niches like boutique wine and art will also want to wear accessories that say something about their savvy.”


Earrings in 18k yellow gold have black Tahitian pearls, 4.7 cts. t.w. ruby cabochons, and 0.72 ct. t.w. diamonds, $21,350; Pamela Froman, pamela@pamelafroman.com