History of The Tahitian Pearl
For centuries, people had to get up very early
to find a black pearl in our Polynesian lagoons
Before the arrival of Europeans, it was never the goal of the locals. They would go “oyster hunting” the way we go fishing today: to eat. But Mother Nature has always liked to shower us with gifts.
And sometimes, in the fat flesh of the gathered oyster, a black pearl would appear, a god-given gift that was immediately offered to one’s ari’i (Lord), mother or lady friend.
Precious and very rare item: our civilization of statisticians counts one pearl for ten thousand opened pintadinas.
When Europeans came, the quest turned obsessive and the search for pearls was synonymous with exploitation.
As Tahiti soon became a reality adorned with mother-of-pearl and pearls, her islands repeatedly sustained the offences of avid merchants
Fortunately, a handful of men, most of who were scientists, guided the State on the path of reason.
Black pearl oysters were protected, fishery was supervized and their survival was guaranteed.
Then the Japanese invention of pearl oyster grafting, around the years 1904-1916, reached our lagoons, thanks to the commitment of a man, Jean-Marie Domard.
Cultured pearls, already very common in Japan (1905) and a budding industry in Australia (1959), were to enrich our lagoons, because of his relentless dedication.
The first grafting was attempted in 1961 in the lagoon of Hikueru by Churoku Muroi, a Japanese grafter who worked in Australia.