Pearls in French Polynesia
In the 30’s, Francois Herve, administrator of the Tuamotu islands at the time had attempted to experiment with pearl farming on Apataki atoll with no success. Spurred on by Jean-Marie Domard in Bora Bora it is only in the sixties that the first series of oysters were actually grafted and the first pearl farm was developed by the Rosenthal brothers in 1968 on the island of Manihi.
But it is only starting in the 80’s that pearl cultivation became a significant industry in French Polynesia and in particular in the Tuamotu-Gambier archipelago where pearl farms large and small were created, a fact which contributed to the populating of the more distant islands. The only pearl oysters used in French Polynesia are of the Pinctada Magaritifera variety. The shells of these oysters have extraordinary colours, which vary from light grey to dark green, and have an infinite numbers of shades in between. These oysters produce pearls that are often falsely call “black pearls” but that are in fact officially called “Naturally Coloured Cultured Tahitian Pearls” by professional industry organisations like the GIA and CIBJO.
In French Polynesia pearl cultivation developed as of the 80’s. It is an industry that developed rapidly and allowed the cultured pearl of Tahiti to develop a reputation of grandeur.