Cook Islands' black pearls are cultured and perfected by nature in the pristine lagoon of Manihiki, one of the most remote islands of the Cook’s group over a thousand kilometers north of the main island of Rarotonga.
Since the 1890s the lagoons of Manihiki and Penrhyn (Tongareva) have been harvested for natural pearls from the Pinctada Margaritifera, the black lipped oyster. Cultivation of the pearls began with trials in the 1970’s leading to the first commercial farms being established in the 1980s in Manihiki.
Today Manihiki, with less than 300 residents, most of whom are involved in the pearl industry, is the heart of the cultured pearl industry of the Cook Islands.
Defined by their luster, colour and deep nacre quality, Cook Islands Pearls are highly sought after throughout the Pacific and internationally by the jewellery industry. Cook Islands pearls emerge from their black-lipped mother of pearl shell in an amazing spectrum of colours reflecting those inside their host shell.
Iridescent overtones of blue, green, gold, pink and purple shimmer across the body of the pearls’ deeper silver through to black shades. When rotated, the pearl’s colours will shift and glow as light is absorbed and then refracted through the layers of nacre built up on each pearl.
Cook Islands' pearls come in a variety of shapes that range from the freeform and unique baroque pearls through to the perfectly spherical rounds. Exquisite drops, ovals and button shapes are perfectly formed for particular jewellery settings, while the semi-baroque and circle pearls inspire jewellers and craftspeople to create fascinating and innovative designs. Each pearl has unique attributes that will appeal to the individual’s taste.
Cook Island’s pearls are generally cultured to develop sizes between 9 and 14 millimetres. Occasionally pearl sizes will reach 21 millimetres and are a premium on the international market. Our pearls are the natural result of cultivation and are not artificially enhanced nor the oysters genetically engineered in any way. The point of origin and proof of authenticity for exported pearls is guaranteed and certified by the Cook Islands Pearl Authority (CIPA) .
The highest quality of Cook Islands pearls are produced through a value chain of strict controls. Those pearls are marketed under the exclusive Cook Island’s brand name of AVAIKI.