Tahitian Pearls by Robert Wan vs. Faux Fish Scale Pearls: A Comparative Analysis

In our society today, jewelry reflects luxury and elegance. Pearls have continued to be an enduring symbol of class and simple subtlety.

While there are many types of pearl jewelry available today, Tahitian pearls (particularly from esteemed sources like Robert Wan) stand out. On the other hand, faux fish scale pearls are becoming popular, but they have some underlying differences.

The aim of this article is to show reasons why Tahitian pearls are better than fish scale pearls, analyzing differences in recognition, quality and sustainability.

1. Recognition by GIA

The Gemological Institute of America (GIA) is the world’s reputed authority in jewelry and gems. The body plays a leading role in the pearl industry through its in-depth evaluation and quality grading of gemstones. The first difference between faux fish scale pearls and Tahitian pearls is their recognition by the GIA.

A. The recognition of the Tahitian Pearls by GIA: 

Working collaboratively, Robert Wan and the Gemological Institute of America played a highly important role in the recognition and upbringing of the Tahitian cultured pearl that has received recognition as a gem of value, placing it within the same class as precious stone.

Since 1997, The Robert Wan Educational wing at the GIA campus in Carlsbad, California has been a confirmation of the gem industry's acknowledgment of the visionary behind Tahitian cultured pearls.

Leading jewellers and prominent fashion designers like – Tournaire, Dupont, Harry Winston, Tiffany, Chaumet, Boucheron, Chanel, Jean Paul Gautier, Torrente, Mikimoto, and Chow Ta Fook, have led the way in using Tahitian cultured pearls in their unique, innovative pieces, fostering its recognition within the sector.

Starting with a blank slate, Robert Wan has successfully positioned the Tahitian cultured pearl as the exclusive French gem, the star of haute-Joaillerie. Robert WAN's relentless pursuit of knowledge, excellence and quality extends from nacre to pearls, haute-Joaillerie to scientific endeavors, leaving no stone unturned.

He understands the importance of atolls, and four decades since his first grafting, his conviction in the growth of the Poe Rava (signifying the "Green, shimmering, black pearl" in Tahitian) is stronger than ever before. 

Criteria for Recognition

To grade and evaluate the quality of pearls, GIA utilizes a rigorous set of criteria like surface quality, shape, luster and many more.

Unveiling Perfection 

Tahitian pearls always exceed the rigorous standards established by GIA. The fact that they are recognized and reviewed by this reputed body further underscores their quality.

B. Faux Fish Scale Pearls' Status: 

On the other hand, fish scale pearls have not been recognized by GIA. This has raised questions about their authenticity and quality.

Challenges in Recognition 

A big problem encountered by fish scale pearls in getting recognized by GIA is their synthetic formation process.

Lack of Organic Formation

While Tahitian pearls originate through a natural process within oysters over the course of time, faux fish scale pearls are produced using non-traditional methods. This makes them less consistent with standard grading criteria.

C. Implications for Buyers and Sellers: 

As a pearl jewelry shopper or retailer, the question of whether a pearl has been recognized by GIA will have a far-reaching impact in some ways. Here’s how:

Buyer Confidence

Buyers always view pearls recognized by the GIA and other similar bodies as authentic. This can have an effect on their buying decision.

Seller Reputation

Retailers of Tahitian pearl enjoy the authenticity and confidence established by GIA’s recognition. This has a positive impact on their reputation in the market.

2. Sustainability Considerations:

In the face of increased environmental awareness, sustainability is now at the forefront. In this section, we will explore the practice of pearl farming and show you why faux fish scale pearls are less sustainable than Tahitian pearls.

A. Sustainable Practices in Tahitian Pearls: 

Tahitian pearl farming has evolved over the years, embracing sustainable approaches that align with contemporary environmental concerns.

Eco-Friendly Techniques

Tahitian pearl farms, especially those sourced from Robert Wan, have fully adopted environmentally friendly practices. These are designed to lower environmental impact. By doing this, they protect the marine ecosystem while facilitating the development of these lovely gemstones.

Resource Management

Tahitian pearl farming revolves around utilizing resources wisely and responsibly. This preserves the ocean environment and ensures that this practice can keep going for a long time. It's like collaborating with nature.

B. Challenges in Fish Scale Pearl Farming: 

For faux fish scale pearl farming, they experienced difficulties in their attempt to be as eco-friendly as Tahitian pearl farming.

Resource Intensive

The production of faux fish scale pearls involves a lot of resources. This can potentially put pressure on aquatic ecosystems as they struggle with the demands of these unconventional cultivation techniques.

Limited Sustainable Practices

Numerous efforts are being made to come up with eco-friendly ways to produce fish-scale pearls. Still, they're not as well-established as the sustainability initiatives in the Tahitian pearl industry.

C. Eco-Conscious Consumer Appeal:

 In today's society, buyers are guided by environmental considerations, and sustainability is a major factor in their buying choices.

Preference for Sustainability

A lot of shoppers actively search for eco-friendly products, such as pearls. This is because they support sustainable products that match their values. This growth in awareness has encouraged people to opt for Tahitian pearls, which adhere to these principles.

Robert Wan's Commitment

Tahitian pearl farms, such as Robert Wan's, align perfectly with the values of eco-conscious consumers. They continue to appreciate these farms' commitment to environmental protection.

3. Quality: 


Many people consider Tahitian pearls better quality than fish scale pearls for many valid reasons. Tahitian pearls are cultivated in the crystal waters of French Polynesia. It has a lovely luster and an amazing array of iridescent colors. This makes them stand out in terms of appearance and appeal. The fish scale pearls may not have the same quality of luster and color variation.


Tahitian pearls are farmed within the clear waters of French Polynesia. This area is ideal for the cultivation of pearls. Fish scale pearls are imitation pearls made from fish coating. They are thin and fragile and of inferior quality.


Tahitian pearls originate from the black-lipped oyster usually found in French Polynesia. This accords them a feature of rarity, thereby increasing their desirability. Fish scale pearls fail to have that level of rarity. Although, this depends on how they are produced.

Quality Standards

Tahitian pearls always adhere to rigorous quality standards. This ensures defined shapes and sizes that are appreciated by customers. On the other hand, there are no quality benchmarks for fish-scale pearls.

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