Polynesian Legends About The Black Pearl

According to ancient Polynesian legends handed down from one generation to the next:

Ancients believed that Tahitian pearls were the first cases of light, which were given by the Creator to Tane --God of Harmony and Beauty. Tahitian pearls illuminated the vault of heaven with their light. 

Their form and brightness inspired Tane to create the stars. Tane then brought the pearls to Rua Hatu -- God of the Ocean in order for him to lighten his domain. Oro -- God of War and Peace, working for Tane, entrusted human women whom he coveted to conceive his descendants, with the first pearls, as tokens of love. With the achievement of his work complete, he gave "Te ufi" - pearl oysters to humans, in memory of his voyage on earth. Ever since, the pearl oyster "Te ufi -- Pinctada Margaritifera, has thrived in the lagoons of French Polynesia.

In Polynesian culture, the first two mythical pearls, which were given to a princess on earth by Oro -- God of war and peace, were Poe Rava -- the extraordinary peacock colored pearl and Poe Konini -- the sculptural circled pearl.

Another myth says that Okana and Uaro - the spirits of Coral and Sand –both adorned Te Ufi with a glistening cloak that utilizing all the hues of every fish that swam the Polynesian seas.  For Thousands of years the glory of the heavens has come to rest in the secret hollow of the iridescent mother-of-pearl, as a gift from the sky to the sea.

Another dreamy and romantic story about the Tahitian black pearl speaks of how the moon bathes the ocean with its light to attract the oysters. When they come to the ocean surface, the moon bestows heavenly dew upon each one of them. In time, the drop of heavenly dew is polished and shrouds itself in garments with blue, green, gold and pink shining in the colors of Tahitian pearls.

There are many myths and legends that attribute the black pearls with various powers from being a healer to cupid and even a gift of God. In ancient times, the Tahitian black pearl was a jewel worn only by royalty and hence came to be known as the Pearl of Queens and the Queen of Pearls.

History of the Tahitian Black Pearl

Born in French Polynesia’s South Pacific seas, the Tahitian pearl is a reflexion of the beauty of Polynesia. A Tahitian pearl’s surface reflects the shimmering quality of the luminous Polynesian waters and its forms and curves are suggestions of sensuality and passion.  Created in the legendary South Seas, fine Tahitian cultured pearls boast all of the colors and shapes that one can dream of. Since its discovery, the Tahitian pearl has conjured purity, sensuality, exclusivity and mystery. It is no wonder then that for hundreds of years, men and women have traveled the world to French Polynesia in search of the elusive Tahitian pearl. A symbol of purity and elegance, the Tahitian pearl enchants and captivates all who behold it.

The mollusk variety which produces Tahitian pearls is called the Pinctada Margaritifera, aptly named after the Latin “margarita” for treasure. Only about 30% of nucleated mollusks will produce a successful pearl and only 1 % will be of gem quality. The quality of a pearl depends on many factors, including water temperature and purity, nacre thickness, and the experience level of the grafter. Yet, none of these is as important as the health of the Tahitian pearl-bearing Pinctada Margaritifera mollusks, which thrive only in one location on earth: the pristine lagoons of French Polynesia.


Simon Grand, a producer of oysters in Arachon, successfully tested growing spats, or young oysters, in pristine Polynesian lagoons  around the Gambier Islands.


Two biologists, Bouchon Bradley and Gilbert Ranson, studied the productivity of various Polynesian lagoons and set forth a plan for the sustainable cultivation of pearl oysters in them.  Several attempts were made with varying degrees of success.

Early 1960’s

Jean-Marie Domard, who had studied grafting and seeding techniques at the farm of Mr. Kokichi Mikimoto in Japan, achieved the first successful transplant of pearl-oyster stock at Hikueru atoll.


Domard’s transplantation and cultivation techniques were successfully extended to lagoons in Bora Bora with harvested pearls reaching 14mm in diameter.  This production was featured in jewelry set by the famous jeweler Mourareau, and a new industry was born.


The first true Tahitian pearl  farm, called  ‘Société Perlière de Manihi’ was born on the atoll of Manihi. The founders of the innovative concept were renownmabe pearl grower Koko Chaze, and Frenchmen Jacques and Aubert Rosenthal, grandsons of the renowned Parisian jeweler Leonard Rosenthal, who financed the operation.


The first round pearl was produced and other pearl farms quickly emerged in the fruitful lagoons of French Polynesia.


The Gemological Institute of America (GIA) officially recognized the "natural color" of Tahitian pearls.


The World Jewelry Confederation, or CIBJO, officially adopted the standardized nomenclature "naturally-colored Tahitian cultured pearls." With recognition by gemological authorities and industry standardized classifications, the Tahitian cultured pearl began its rise in popularity. 


The Tahitian cultured pearl was recognized and respected by jewelers and collectors world-wide as the "Pearl of Queens" – and as the "Queen of Pearls".