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Shopping for Black Pearl Necklace

Updated on December 4, 2013

The black pearl necklace is a far cry from the classic string of white pearls that we all know and grew up with. While people are often familiar with white string of pearls, often around the neck of a TV housewife from the 50’s, colored pearls are becoming more in demand in these days. Black pearls are a nice detour from the classic white, and can be worn by anyone in just about any style! And for those who don’t want a string of pearls, they can always get a pearl pendant that will give an air of understated elegance to the wearer. If you’ve never shopped for pearls before, or are not familiar with black pearls, this is the article for you.

A Black Pearl Necklace looks beautiful as a string of pearls or as a single pearl pendant.
A Black Pearl Necklace looks beautiful as a string of pearls or as a single pearl pendant.


Black pearl, also known as South Sea Tahitian Pearls, originates from the SouthSea, mainly the island of Tahiti, where it bears its name. Harvested from Black Pearl Oysters, they were once prized in the trade as a rare pearl, and highly sought after. While a natural pearl is still expensive, the development of cultured pearls has caused black pearls to be highly accessible to the vast public. The black pearl’s popularity continues to hold the test of time.

Men working on a pearl farm in French Indonesia
Men working on a pearl farm in French Indonesia

Would you look for a natural or a cultivated pearl?

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Cultured and Natural Pearls

When purchasing, you have the choice to buy either a natural or cultured pearl. Natural pearls are rarely found in the wild – often they are found by chance, and even then, the chances of finding a pearl that is perfectly round and blemish free is rare. So natural pearls naturally cost more than cultured pearls, which are farmed.

How is a pearl farmed, you ask?  Better yet, what is a freshwater cultured pearl? Well, pearls are naturally formed by a mollusk, such as an oyster or a clam. You can find pearls in any mollusk, but they aren’t considered beautiful or prized like those found in bivalves. When something like a grain of sand enters the mollusks soft tissue, the animal produces a substance called nacre that it covers the irritant in. When cultured, farmers purposefully introduce a large item into the pearl in order to stimulate growth of a pearl. This is how you would be able to tell if your pearls are cultured or natural.

You would need an expert with an x-ray. The irritant with which the pearl is grown on is called the nucleus. When X-rayed, the nucleus of a cultured pearl is large and evident, while the nucleus of a natural pearl is small with many layers of nacre over it. But so you know, freshwater pearls are cultivated pearls, and cost less than saltwater pearls as they often aren’t as luxurious as salt water pearls. Saltwater pearls also tend to cost more because while a freshwater environment can be controlled, a saltwater environment is prey to the elements, which can affect a pearl’s color and luster.

Finding the Right Pearl

Black Pearls are larger than most pearls, from 8 to 18 mm, and like other pearls, come in grades A and grade AAA. The highest grade pearl is grade AAA, and a grade AAA freshwater pearl strand can cost in the thousands. Black pearls come in an array of colors. The general color would be black, blue, green, brown, grey, or chocolate pearls while having an iridescence of blue, gold, silver, purple, and green. This makes for a wide selection of colors when it comes to choosing a black pearl necklace. Of course, as they are black necklaces, the darker they are, the more valuable they are, making the black pearl necklace the most valuable of all. But as pearls are highly valued for the shape as well, a black round pearl is worth far more than a black tear drop pearl. The more spherical a pearl is, the more costly it is. If the Tahitian Pearl has overtones and a luster, the more valuable it is. In order to get the most out of a strand of black pearls, you will want to find one with a good black color and each pearl should have a different overtone to it.

You can also find black pearls from other kinds, like Akoya pearls. Akoya pearl grades are the same as with all other pearls, and you can find black pearls from these Japanese oysters. You want to be sure to find the best price on akoya pearls by shopping around, both online as well as local dealers.

If you plan on making an investment into your jewelry collection by buying a strand of black pearls, there are a few things you need to know. First, check the color. As previously stated, the darker a black pearl the better, and if it is black with an overtone, that would be among the best quality pearl. Next, check the luster. The more luster, the more expensive a pearl would be – it’s the reason pearls are considered such beautiful pieces of jewelry. The shape of a good quality pearl should be round. Of course, there is now way to have a pearl that is perfectly spherical , but the closer, the better. While pearls are an organic material, and cannot be perfectly smooth, high quality pearls should be relatively blemish free. These items are true for cultured and natural pearls, but you will find that natural pearls with all these qualities may cost in the hundreds of thousands, while you may be able to find a good strand of freshwater pearls for around $50.

One last thing to keep in mind is that if you actually would like to have fake pearls, probably the best quality would be majorca pearls.  While Majorca pearls are not actual pearls, they are a nice set to have if you can't find chocolate pearls, as chocolate Majorca "pearls" look stunning on their own.

Pairing Your Necklace

As you can see, black pearl necklaces come with many designs, from single pearl pendants to clustered pealrs to a string of pearls. What is so nice about black pearls is that black goes with just about anything. A pearl pendant necklace would look nice paired pearl earrings to match or maybe even diamonds. With a pendant, as the pearls are more subtle, you may want to pair it with a flashy ring like a marquise diamond.

For a string of pearls, it's not unreasonable to pair with pearl earrings, but perhaps simply pearl studs to give a more clean, elegant look. You might even want to put on a pair of yellow diamond earrings, or even a puzzle ring, whose simple complexity will perfectly accentuate your black pearl necklace.


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    • profile image

      Faruq 7 years ago

      It is nice as this article explains whole lot about Pearls quality and grading. However you will find big brands on the market offering quality pearls. But if you browse through you can find many online sore offering pearl necklace at discounted price or with amazing offers.

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      Peter Goodall 7 years ago

      Black pearl necklace always looks great. Good things about pearl you have discussed here.

    • prasetio30 profile image

      prasetio30 8 years ago from malang-indonesia

      really beautiful. Ii can be expensive thing when it used for jewelry.