Unconfigured Ad Widget

Collapse

Announcement

Collapse
No announcement yet.

IV. Mabe Pearl Production Technology

Collapse
X
Collapse
  •  

  • IV. Mabe Pearl Production Technology

    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 of a wide variety of “Mabe pearl implants” (or “Mabe inserts” as they are also called). Most of these are made of plastic, but some are made of shell and other materials, and the use of plastic allows for the easy and cheap manufacture of these inserts (pricing is usually between 1 to 10 American cents per piece). Another added benefit of this material selection is that they can be produced in every conceivable shape (drops, stars, ovals, squares, hearts, animal shapes, even brand-name logos) and sizes (from 3 to 30 mm in diameter).
    Shell and Plastic Implants for Pearl production


    Comparison between a 12 mm Mississippi mussel shell nucleus (left) used for loose pearl culture and a 15 mm hemispherical Mabe pearl implant (right).

    Mollusks used for Mabe pearl production are usually the larger and older animals, with the less concave (flatter) shapes. The mollusks are left to open and then wedged to keep them that way. The pearl technician will use a “spatula” like tool to gently detach the mantle from the shell, then the shell is inspected for imperfections and cleanliness; if the shell has mucus it has to be removed (usually with a cotton swab) for the implant to adhere properly to the inner shell.
    Mabe pearl implanting procedure


    Rainbow-lipped pearl oysters that have been pegged open and have their mantles pushed back and have been implanted for Mabe pearl production. Care must be taken in order to avoid the implants placed on the opposing shells from touching each other.

    The implant is placed with the flat side up, and a small drop of glue (usually a cyanoacrylate or “Super Glue”) is added. Then, using a special hoop-looking tool (Mabe Inserter) or tweezers, the implant is picked up to be placed on the nacreous lining of the shell, avoiding any soft tissues, and then left to dry for at least 3-6 minutes. The animals are then taken back to their culture cages and to their farming site to begin the Mabe pearl culture period.

    Pearl oysters are placed inside protective cages or hung-directly from ropes. Ropes allow for the best water flow and for less maintenance, but in sites where predators are common, it will be necessary to use pearl farming cages.
    Mabe-Culture


    Culturing Mabe Pearl Oysters. Left: “Rope culture”. Right: Protective cages (“Lantern nets”) to avoid fish predators.
    Last edited by CortezPearls; 10-04-2021, 05:57 PM.
      Posting comments is disabled.

    Categories

    Collapse

    article_tags

    Collapse

    There are no tags yet.

    Latest Articles

    Collapse

    • Pearls in the Web of Life - Part 2
      by CortezPearls
      In a sense, pearl oysters might be a “small ecosystem” of their own, a self-contained biome where a tug of war ensues and leads to eventual stability. But why does this happen? And does it hurt the mollusk? One of my Marine Biology teachers -Dr Fernando Manrique, a friend of Jacques Cousteau- once told us that the Ocean was teeming with Life, and that the hardest thing for many lifeforms to find was an “available apartment”, a place to settle and that would help them avoid being tossed...
      10-11-2021, 05:12 PM
    • Mabe Pearl Grading - 7) Dome Height
      by CortezPearls
      Part of the beauty of a Mabe pearl comes from its “dome” (height). When a Mabe pearl displays a low dome it most closely resembles a piece of mother-of-pearl shell than an actual pearl. Unfortunately, many Mabe pearls today are grown too flat, due to the intrinsic characteristic of the host shell: Pinctada shells are usually flatter than Pteria shells (the shells being much more concave) which does not allow for the use of tall implants, since these will touch the opposite shell and will cause the...
      08-23-2021, 11:20 PM
    • Mabe Pearl Grading - 6) Nacre Quality
      by CortezPearls
      The most important factor here is nacre thickness. Many Mabe are cultured for short periods of time (4 months) to obtain the most perfect shape, but at the expense of their nacre thickness and durability. On the other hand, there are producers that grown them for too long (over 12 months) and end up having pearls that have thick nacre, but their shapes are not standardized, and they may display one or more of the surface imperfections we discussed in the previous paragraph. There is usually a middle...
      08-23-2021, 03:47 PM
    • Grading Mabe Pearls -5) Surface Quality
      by CortezPearls
      As with other pearls, surface quality is an important attribute: the cleaner the surface is, the more desirable the Mabe is and more valuable too. The usual surface imperfections found in these are:

      • Missing Nacre: whitish, bite shaped marks.
      • Spots, pinpricks: dark or light-colored pin-prick markings.
      • Rippled surface: these are markings caused by the growth of the abductor muscle on top of the blister pearl. This marking causes the appearance of wavy...
      08-23-2021, 03:30 PM
    • Grading Mabe Pearls - 4) Mabe Luster
      by CortezPearls
      Mabe pearls are not very known for their great luster, although many of these pearls may display amazing luster. Mabe usually display a more silky or subdued luster, especially in the Pinctada species and is most shiny in the Pteria species…but luster is usually enhanced by means of a final polishing, done with a high-speed cloth-wheel and a polishing compound, although much care must be taken to avoid excessive polishing that leads to heat and may ultimately damage the pearls by “burning”...
      08-23-2021, 03:26 PM
    • Grading Mabe Pearls - 3) Colors
      by CortezPearls
      Mabe pearl color is highly dependent on the species of mollusk that is producing the blisters, and even within each species you will be able to find a great variation of all-natural colors, but many Mabe are also dyed to produce an artificial coloration. Although we will not go in great detail on this subject, we will quickly cover some of the ways these pearls are given these artificial colors.

      We have already covered the different natural colorations we can find in the different species...
      08-23-2021, 03:22 PM
    Working...
    X