Peacock pearls are a shade of Tahitian pearls, characterized by their dark blue, green and purple undertones. Found in a variety of shapes and sizes, peacock pearls are the second most popular shade of Tahitian pearls, behind black and ahead of pistachio. Peacock pearls are an elegant, fresh take on classic pearl studs or necklaces.
Peacock pearls are part of the Tahitian pearl family. These lustrous, multi-hued pearls are only produced by black-lipped oysters (Pinctada margaritifera) found in French Polynesia. Some jewelers may market "Australian Tahitian pearls" or Tahitian pearls from areas that are not French Polynesia, but these are simply black pearls and are being falsely marketed as Tahitian pearls. Tahitian pearls can be natural or cultured, with farms springing up across the French Polynesian islands to meet growing market demands for these rare gems.
The designation of "peacock" covers a wide range of Tahitian pearl shades. A typical Tahitian pearl has a dark gray to coal-black body tone and a variety of iridescent overtones. Peacock pearls feature luminous overtones of navy blue, forest green and deep plum. These tones shift as the pearl is viewed from different angles, giving them complexity and depth. The body tone is usually tinged with dark green as well. Some freshwater pearls are dyed to mimic Tahitian pearls, but few dying processes can capture the tones of a peacock pearl, making fakes easy to detect.
Rings, bracelets, necklaces and earrings are all excellent settings for peacock pearls. Silver is a popular metal for mountings, as the sheen of the pearl plays well against the cool, pale tone of the silver. Pendants and studs are especially popular settings for peacock pearls, as the lack of decorative metal-work showcases the stone to dramatic effect. However, the funky aesthetic of baroque, unevenly shaped peacock pearls lends itself to bold, modern settings that use unconventional materials. Peacock pearls can also be found in classic, simple strands.
The spike in demand for Tahitian peacock pearls has lead to an influx of imitations on the market. Lesser-grade cultured pearls are dyed to approximate Tahitian pearls, but they will appear flat and dull. A quick test is to rub the pearl across your teeth; a real Tahitian peacock pearl will be rough, while fakes will be smooth. Buy Tahitian peacock pearls from a reputable dealer, and ask the dealer to see the pearl's certificate before you commit.
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