Difference Between South Seas & Tahitian Pearl

Tahitian pearls are typically deep shades of grey and black.
Tahitian pearls are typically deep shades of grey and black. (Image: Thinkstock Images/Comstock/Getty Images)

While South Seas and Tahitian pearls are both beautiful additions to any jewelry box, there are many differences between the two. Colors, origin, size and luster all are factors that differ between South Seas pearls and Tahitian pearls. Follow personal preference to make a choice as neither has a particular advantage over the other.


South Seas pearls are farmed from the Indian and Pacific oceans and are produced by two kinds of mollusks: the silver lipped and gold lipped Pinctada Maxima pearl oyster. Tahitian pearls are harvested off the coasts of Tahiti and French Polynesia, and are created only by the Pinctada Margaritifera oyster.


Jewelry aficionados prize South Seas pearls for their delicate pastel hues, which range from soft white to creamy pink and champagne. At the opposite end of the spectrum, Tahitian pearls are bold and dramatic. While true "black" pearls are some of the rarest in the world, Tahitian pearls are typically dark gray with undertones of green and dark blue. Lighter Tahitian pearls have a silver sheen.


Both South Seas and Tahitian pearls can be found in larger than average sizes, but South Seas pearls are slightly larger than Tahitian pearls. The average South Seas pearl is 15 mm in size, while a Tahitian pearl is usually 13 mm in size.

Nacre Thickness

Nacre is the calcium secreted by an oyster that covers the shell nucleus, and which forms the base of the pearl. South Seas pearls develop a thicker nacre coating than any other kind of pearl, usually ranging from 2 mm to 6 mm. Tahitian pearls have a nacre thickness of 2 mm to 3 mm. It is this thick nacre coat that accounts for the richness of the South Seas pearl's luster.

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