Buying Pearls in French Polynesia

The Farm in Bora Bora

A Word on Purchasing Pearls in French Polynesia

Planning on buying pearls on your trip to the islands?

You will be able to find Tahitian pearls almost everywhere. Be careful as these will include pearls unsuitable for sale, rejects & imitations. They are difficult to spot, especially if you don't know what you're looking for. During your trip, many people or local staff may recommend or convince you to go to a certain jewelry shop. when they send clients in, they earn a 10-15% commission on whatever you buy.

There are 4 things to look for when buying pearls:

1. Classification of the Surface

Graded according to physical characteristics. Surface flaws and luster quality. The luster is its radiance, brilliance, and capacity to reflect the light. There are 5 classifications. The must are perfect A & B.

2. Shape

Round (perfect spheres) , Semi-Round (pearl for which the variation of the diameter lies between 2-5% of the smallest diameter), Baroque, Semi-Baroque, & Circled.

3. Diamete

Generally between 8mm and 11mm. Pearls from 12mm are very rare and those more than 15mm are exceptional. The color is natural, one often uses a body color which is completed with some overtones. The appeal of the color cannot constitute a scale of values. It is subjective criterion.

4. Quality

The thickness of the layers of mother-of-pearl is the most important parameter in determining the quality and longevity of a cultured pearl. It is also the least visible, as it can only be seen under x-ray. Be flexible with regards to color, size, shape, and light surface markings, but never make a concession regarding the thickness of the coating. Know that a pearl without sufficient nacre thickness will one day reveal its nucleaus, forming a big what stain on your pearl. An x-ray is essential for any serious purchase.

In Bora Bora, if you want to buy in complete confidence, go to the jewelry of the O.P.E.C. (Office Polynesian d' Expertise et de Commercialisation. At O.P.E.C., every pearl, every jewel, & every necklace are x-rayed in front of you. This gives you total peace of mind and security.

In addition to the real time x-ray, a genuine certificate of expertise will be issued with all purchases. The O.P.E.C. is located in downtown Vaitape, next to the post office.

WAN - Named after the emporer and the Bora Bora Pearl Co. aka - The Farm are great places to go for quality pearls. The Bora Bora Pearl Company has its farm right there so you can get totally educated on how a pearl is made and how long it actually takes to make a pearl. If you are looking for quality inexpensive pearls, Freedom, in downtown Vaitape has the most cost-effective pearls on the Island.


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