The Myths and Mystery

of Tahitian Black Pearls

Designer Black Pearl Jewelry
Featured at Maria Cumbé

In legends of the South Seas, the black pearls were created when the Tahitian God Oro descended from the sky along a Rainbow Bridge. Bits of rainbow color washed into the sea. Black pearls were born in warm, tropical lagoons, from a marriage of moonlight and rainbow.

Shimmering, iridescent, exotic and rare, black pearls were the ultimate gift of love and romance, and were given to lovely Tahitian queens and princesses by their ardent lovers. Extremely rare, black pearls were cherished by Tahitian Royalty as gift of the gods.

It is said that Cleopatra crushed a large pearl given to her by her lover Mark Anthony, and together they drank it in a glass of wine as a testimonial to their undying love. Black Pearls hold enchantment for lovers for they are the ultimate gift of romance.


About Black Pearl Jewelry

Tahitian black pearls are thought to be the most valuable of all pearls. They come from the tropical oceans of Tahiti. It is said that of the black pearls found, 20% are suitable for jewelry, and of those, 5% are gem quality. You can be assured that the Pearls offered by Maria Cumbé have been carefully selected and reflect the best of all the criteria. Your satisfaction is our goal and our handcrafted jewelry pieces are guaranteed.

Six criteria used to describe Tahitian Black Pearls:


Luster is determined by the reflection of light on the pearl's surface. Very high luster pearls show sharp light reflections, like a mirror.


Orient is the underlying play of iridescent colors. Orient is the opalescent interaction of light that can be observed by looking past the lustrous surface and into the many layers of pearl nacre.


Tahitian black pearls are always naturally colored. Pearls have a body color and overtones. The body colors range from pale silver to dark black. The overtones come in a rainbow of beautiful natural colors: blues, golds, bronzes, coppers, royal purples, peacock greens, seafoam greens, creams, light yellows, light oranges, mauves and pinks.


Tahitian black pearls come in a wide range of natural shapes: baroque, button, drop, half-drop, pear, near round and round. Round shapes are the most expensive because only 1 to 3% of the black pearls harvested are round. Round, near round, button, pear, drop and half-drop pearls with ring-like formations around them are called circle pearls. Baroque and circle pearl shapes are the least expensive because they are more commonly harvested.

Mabe pearls are formed against the inside of the oyster shell and tend to be flat on one side and domed on the other. They are carved into unique shapes for designer jewelry, allowing one to achieve a larger look at a generally lower price than a round or drop pearl of the same size.


The average size for Tahitian black pearls is 8 to 11 mm. Some pearls can reach 12-14 mm and very rare pearls can even attain 18 mm. Some exceptional sized baroque black pearls may reach 25 to 30 mm.


TOP GEM: Flawless pearl with no surface marks.

AAA1: One to three marks on an area of the pearl that covers less than 20% of the surface. Very high luster and orient.

AAA2: Three to six marks on an area of the pearl that covers less than 30% of the surface. Very high luster and orient.

AA1: Six to 10 marks on an area of the pearl that covers less than 55% of the surface. Good luster and orient.

AA2: More than 10 marks on an area of the pearl that covers more than 55% of the surface. Average to good luster.

Maria Cumbé in the Plaza Pacifico mall on Av. Audiencia specializes in black pearl jewelry custom made by Colima's best designers. For more information on black pearl jewelry, e-mail Rossella or stop by for a visit while you're here in Manzanillo. Planning a wedding, anniversary or honeymoon here? Black pearls are the ultimate romantic gift for lovers.