Announcement

Collapse
No announcement yet.

Cortez Pearls

Collapse
X
Collapse
  •  

  • Cortez Pearls

    Cortez Pearls Defined

    Cortez pearls are pearls grown in the "Rainbow Lipped Pearl Oyster" or Pteria sterna from the waters of the Gulf of California -or Sea of Cortez- in Mexico.

    The History and Comeback of Cortez Pearls

    Emerging once more from the clear waters of the Gulf of California, after decades of protection, is Mexico's most emblematic gem: New World Black Pearls. In 1533, the Spanish Conqueror Cortez sent the very first expeditions into the area to find the mythical Sea of Pearls. Soon, the area known as the "Vermillion Sea of Cortez" officially known as the Gulf of California - produced some of the finest known pearls in the world: the Sea of Cortez Pearl. These prized gems became New Spain's most important export product, with a price so high that their value was over double of that of all other combined exports to the Old Continent: gold, silver, and spices. It was at this moment in time when Mexican black pearls came to be known as the "Queen of Gems and Gem of Queens", helping to adorn European nobility like never before.

    Cortez Pearls Come from Two Species

    Sea of Cortez Pearls originate from two species of mollusks that inhabit the Pacific coastline: the Panamic Black-Lipped Oyster (Pinctada mazatlanica) and the Rainbow-Lipped mollusk (Pteria sterna) both capable of producing pearls of incredible beauty.
    Pinctada mazatlanica


    The Rainbow-Lipped Oyster produces pearls of highly unusual colorations and intense iridescence, thus producing a pearl that is clearly distinguishable from all others.
    Pteria sterna



    Cortez Pearls Were Almost Fished to Extinction

    Because of their demand, the natural pearl beds were fished constantly for pearls and pearl-shell, so in 1939 a permanent fishing ban was imposed to save the few remaining pearl oyster populations, ending up a 400-year reign for the Gulf of California black pearl. Nonetheless, this period left a clear mark in the history, culture, and traditions of northwestern Mexico: a living history of legends, stories of sadness and glory.

    Cultured Production allows the Comeback of Cortez Pearls

    Nowadays, these cultured pearls are produced in Mexico's Gulf of California: Bacochibampo Bay, Guaymas, Sonora. Pearl culture began in the region in 1993 as a university research program, but by 1996 a commercial production of 20,000 Mabe was achieved. Loose cultured pearl production began in the year 2000. The only marine cultured pearl farm in the Western hemisphere is a medium-sized farm, with some 200 thousand oysters grown in a suspended culture system, with a yearly output of 3-4 kg of cultured pearls, and five thousand Mabe pearls.

    The Culturing Process for Cortez Pearls

    The culture process is continuous and has a minimum production term of 4 years: 2 years for the mollusk's grow-out period, and an additional 2 years to produce cultured pearls. The pearl seeding operation is proprietary and known only to the original pearl research team.

    Each adult, (2 years old, 8 to 10 cm in diameter) Rainbow-Lipped Oyster (Pteria sterna) is seeded with only one American freshwater shell-nucleus, ranging in size from 2.1 to 3.3 bu (6.5 to 10.0 mm) and a piece of mantle tissue from a donor oyster.

    Sea of Cortez Cultured Pearl Attributes:
    • Nacre thickness: is of a minimum of 0.8 mm to a 2.3 mm after the 24-month culture period.
    • Size: The pearls range in size from 8.0 to 14.0 mm in diameter. Pearls in sizes above 10 mm represent only 5% of a harvest.
    • Pearl Shapes: Baroques make up for the largest yield (71%) while rounds and near-rounds account for only 3%. Semi-Baroque shapes represent 25% of the harvest.
    • Pearl coloration: Cortez pearls either display an opalescent rainbow-like orient or intense overtones. Body colors range from white, silver-gray, bronze and black, with overtones of green, purple, blue, gold and violet.
    • Treatments: The pearls are untreated. After harvest, pearls are soaked in water and pat dried. The Sea of Cortez Pearl (or Cortez Pearl) is the only pearl in the gem industry that completely qualifies under the "Fair Trade Gems" protocols.

    Provided by:
    Douglas McLaurin-Moreno
    Pearl Farming Specialist

    Related Articles and Forum Threads:
    Last edited by CortezPearls; 06-09-2021, 11:09 PM. Reason: Edits and added images
      Posting comments is disabled.

    Categories

    Collapse

    article_tags

    Collapse

    Latest Articles

    Collapse

    • Sustainable Pearls - Links Section
      by CortezPearls
      This section will have articles to Sustainable Pearl Farming and other related news.

      "The Sustainable Corner" Series is here:

      1. Introduction
      2. Sustaining Life with Pearl Farming
      3....
      08-02-2021, 06:24 PM
    • VI. Common Mabe Pearl Varieties - Abalone Mabe
      by CortezPearls
      C. Abalone Mabe (Genus Haliotis)

      Abalone (or “Ear-shells” as they are sometimes referred) are not pearl oysters at all; they are, instead, an ancient group of marine “snails” known as Archaeogastropoda (Ancient belly-crawlers). Because they are snails, they move about their environment, living on rocks and grazing on brown seaweeds (kelp). Another interesting difference with pearl oysters is that these animals have a temperate water affinity: they prefer cold...
      07-21-2021, 12:23 AM
    • VI. Common Mabe Pearl Varieties - B. Mother-of-Pearl Oysters (genus Pinctada)
      by CortezPearls
      B. Mother-of-Pearl Oysters (genus Pinctada)

      Black Lip Pearl oysters (Pinctada margaritifera)

      Black lip pearl oysters are known mainly for their beautiful, dark, cultured pearls but they have also been used to produce Mabe pearls, although in not great numbers.

      Part of the production strategy for Mabe pearls in French Polynesia and Fiji is at the very last part of the pearl producing cycle:
      Cultured (loose) pearls are produced for up to three cycles (first,...
      07-21-2021, 12:14 AM
    • VI. Common Mabe Pearl Varieties - “Rainbow Lipped Pearl Oyster”
      by CortezPearls
      “Concha Nácar” or “Rainbow Lipped Pearl Oyster”

      This species of pearl oyster (Pteria sterna) has been used to produce both cultured loose pearls and Mabe pearls in Mexico. The first Mabe pearls were obtained back in 1994 and were the main product for the Guaymas based pearl farm until loose cultured pearls became more common (2002). Since 2010, “Cortez Mabe” have been produced in a steady number between 1 to 5-thousand pearls per year. There is an experimental Mabe pearl...
      07-21-2021, 12:06 AM
    • VI. Common Mabe Pearl Varieties - A. Winged Pearl Oysters (genus Pteria)
      by CortezPearls
      There are several varieties of commercially grown Mabe Pearls that can be found at jeweler’s displays or on online vendors, but many have become rare over the years. The three main sources for Mabe pearls today are:
      1. Winged Pearl oysters from genus Pteria, including the “original” Mabe-gai (Pteria penguin) and the “Rainbow-lip” pearl oyster (Pteria sterna).
      2. Mother-of-Pearl oysters from genus Pinctada, mainly from the larger Silver (Pinctada maxima) and Black (Pinctada margaritifera) lipped pearl
      ...
      07-20-2021, 11:59 PM
    • V. Processing Mabe or Natural Blisters
      by CortezPearls
      Since these pearls are not very useable in jewelry with the entire shell, they are processed: first they are cut from the shell, with the help of a handsaw, Dremel tool, core-drill or tile cutting saw. The type of tool will depend on availability and production volume, the first used mainly by occasional processing and the latter for commercial production.

      A lineup of the Mabe pearl process.

      Once the blister is separated from the shell, these are rinsed to remove grime,...
      07-20-2021, 11:44 PM
    Working...
    X