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Cook Islands black pearls are cultured on the islands of Manihiki and Penryhn in the Northern Group.  

The cultivation of a pearl is a long and tedious process.  Young oyster shells (spats) are laid out on trays in the lagoon for two years, at which time they are ready to be seeded.

The seeding process is most crucial to success.  A surgical-like operation is required to insert the nucleus and a piece of donor mantle tissue into the gonad of the oyster.  The nucleus is made of mussel shell from the Mississippi and Misouri rivers in the USA.  The oyster does the rest.   It uses the donor tissue to coat the nucleus.    

The pearl is ready for harvesting after 2 years of seeding. But over the 4 year process the oyster shell must be cleaned frequently to keep the oyster healthy.

When harvested, the shell can be reused up to 3 times.

In 1994 the Cook Islands Pearl Guild was set up to establish comprehensive standards to ensure quality and to protect the industry.   Consumers are protected by these standards.  All Pearl Guild members issue certificates of guarantee of quality.  Look for the Pearl Guild Logo. 

The other organisation of worthy mention is the Pearl Federation which is a collective group of farmers in the Nothern Group that represent the producers and set guidelines for the development of the farming industry.

There are several factors determining the value of the pearl. Colour: Pearls are available in black, black/green, black rose and green/gold colours.  But it is up to the individual what colour is chosen.  Size: They come in sizes from 8mm to 14mm diameter.   The 13mm+ pearls are rare. Lustre and Orient: The lustre of the pearls vary from matt to fine to exceptional. The more reflective they are the more expensive.  Shape: The shape also varies from round to drop to baroque to circle.  The perfect round one is more expensive but this too is up to the individuals taste.  Surface Perfection: The absence of marks and dents also contribute to the value or quality.

The majority of pearls are sent overseas for lack of local markets.  However, a few are sent to Rarotonga and sold loose or set as pendants, in rings, in earrings and necklaces.

Ph: +682 21 939

Bergman & Sons
Ph: +682 21 902


Ph: +682 24 823

Island Craft Ltd
Ph: +682 22 009

Klassic Pearls
Phone: (682) 24031

Raina Trading Ltd
Ph: +682 22 327

Marthaline Pearls
Ph: +682 29 008

Maui Pearls
Ph: +682 26 064

Ora Moana
Ph: +682 22 317

Pearl Hutt
Ph: +682 23 401

Pearlliam International Ltd
Ph: +682 22 217

Prestige Pearl Design
Ph: +682 20 014

Rarotonga Goldsmiths
Ph: +682 28 602

South Seas Pearling Cook Islands
Ph: +682 29 185

The Pearl Centre
Ph: +682 28 602

The Pearl Trader
Ph: +682 21 060

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