No announcement yet.

The Sustainability Corner – Issue 2


  • The Sustainability Corner – Issue 2

    Sustaining Life with Pearl Farming

    One of the most important aspects of pearl farming is its inherent ability to protect and create more life than the one that was available previously. And what do I mean by this? When you start a pearl farm in a location, you begin with a resource that has already been “pillaged & plundered”, probably for hundreds, if not thousands, of years. As an example, we have the pearl fisheries of the Persian Gulf -whose pearls were adorning the ancient rulers of Egypt, Persia, and Rome- or the most recent Gulf of California pearl fisheries that began an intense fishery in the 1600s: what we see today is just a shadow of what used to be before the fisheries commenced, some 420 years ago.

    When you start a pearl farm then, you will commence on a previously fished and impacted environment, where pearl oysters are usually not abundant. This was very much the scenario I encountered back in 1992: a mollusk census in Bacochibampo Bay, Guaymas, Sonora, Mexico, revealed that in an area of 400 hectares (988 acres) we just had less than 150 live pearl oysters. This means that we just had 0.355 oysters per square meter (/m2), and the thing here is…why should we care about this at all? Well, you see, pearl oysters are sessile, and they do not move about to go out on dates with others so they need to be found living in clusters or “pearl beds” or they will not be able to breed successfully. According to studies, you need at least 10 oysters per square meter to ensure successful reproduction: the chances of the microscopically small ****** cells finding each other diminishes dramatically with fewer oysters.

    So, in the above example, pearl oysters were on the brink of a local extinction event, just about ready to disappear; but along came a small research group to put a stop on this by gathering as many of the wild oysters we could and then we placed them all together in a protective cage in the bay, and then they started breeding in captivity…but their descendants were free to head out to the sea. At 150 oysters per sq meter they were at least 14 times more successful than the minimum number required, and many times more successful than dispersed all over the bay. And then, slowly, “biological magic” began to happen…

    Stay tuned to learn what happened next in the next issue!
    A lone "Rainbow Lip Oyster" perched on a Fan Coral

      Posting comments is disabled.





    Latest Articles


    • 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
    • IV. Mabe Pearl Production Technology
      by CortezPearls
      Ever since those Chinese monks started their first cultured blister pearl, the technique has basically remained the same: an “implant” is glued to the inner shell of the mollusk, under the animal’s mantle. The mantle will cover the said implant and then slowly secrete nacre on top of it until -some months later- the Mabe blister has a good enough coating of nacre to be harvested and processed.

      One of the important aspects of this pearl producing technique is the use...
      07-09-2021, 08:20 PM