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Black cultured pearls can come from a variety of sources. The rarest are those that come from a large black-lipped oyster found in the South Seas. These oysters create large, silver-gray to black pearls that can have other colors as overtones; a peacock green is the most valuable overtone.

Given the rarity of South Seas black cultured pearls, there are enhanced black cultured pearls that can be used as an alternative. These often come from China and Japan, and are actually white cultured pearls that are either exposed to radiation or are dyed all the way through using a process called "French dying." French dying will produce an even, strong color that lasts for years. However the coloring is acquired, they are real cultured pearls and need to be handled with the same care as naturally colored pearls.