Pearl Paradise The Internet's Largest Collection of Fine Pearls - Shop Now! 80% Off Retail. Free Returns. Free Shipping. A+ Rating on BBB.

Unconfigured Ad Widget



No announcement yet.

Grading Mabe Pearls


  • Grading Mabe Pearls

    VII. Grading Mabe Pearls

    Mabe pearls can be graded using most of the same grading standards that we have already seen for the traditional cultured pearl:
    1. Size
    2. Shapes
    3. Color
    4. Luster
    5. Surface Quality
    6. Nacre Quality
    But we can add an additional one that is quite important for this variety of pearl:
    7. Dome Height

    Even so, many of these value factors are not as employed as strictly as they are with regular cultured pearls, but may actually be quite lax, and if we know that there is no standardized pearl grading system, we can quite confidently say that there is an even less formal grading system for Mabe pearls.

    Let us review each one of these attributes and how they pertain to Mabe cultured pearls.

    1. Size

    Mabe pearl sizes are highly variable. From the small 3-4 mm “Akoya Mabe” first made by Mikimoto at the start of the 20th Century all the way to large “Blister Mabe” that may reach sizes of 10 cm (almost 4 inches), but on average we can say the diameter of the “classic Mabe” is between 12 to 18 mm (0.47 and 0.70 inches).

    Distributors that have a good production and inventory of Mabe pearls may have different price points for size intervals, others will not care for this attribute and will not distinguish between these. An example of this are “Cortez Mabe”, that have three different size considerations:

    • Mini and Micro Mabe: Mabe pearls that have sizes between 5 and 10 mm in diameter. The smaller size does not result in a smaller value, because it is more difficult to process these smaller pieces.
    • Mabe: The common sizes are between 12 and 18 mm in diameter and exclude all pearls that have a “shell fringe” around the Mabe and that would be considered as a “cultured Mabe Blister”
    • Blister Mabe: Usually of a larger size than the traditional Mabe, usually of at least 20 mm and even up to 50 mm in diameter, and usually having a shell fringe that varies in size and shape, depending on the piece.
    Assorted Mabe Pearl Sizes

    A remarkably interesting thing to notice here is that a smaller size does not necessarily mean a smaller economic value: it is much harder for the processors to manufacture smaller Mabe pearls, so they may even demand for a higher price for the smaller pieces, and this is the opposite to (loose) cultured pearls.

    Next Entries on the Subject:

    2) Mabe Pearl Shapes
    3) Mabe Pearl Colors
    4) Mabe Pearl Luster
    5) Mabe Pearl Surface Quality
    6) Mabe Pearl Nacre Quality
    7) Mabe Pearl Dome Height

    Last edited by CortezPearls; 08-23-2021, 11:25 PM.
      Posting comments is disabled.





    Latest Articles


    • 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
    • Grading Mabe Pearls - 2) Mabe Shapes
      by CortezPearls
      Mabe pearls can have any shape desired, as long as you attach it to the mollusk’s shell. Some cultured pearls have done this same thing, especially some freshwater pearls that have used faceted mother-of-pearl beads to produce so called “diamond pearls”, or star- and even shuriken- shaped pearls, but in the case of Mabe pearls it is even much varied and you can find hearts, stars, teardrops, ovals, crosses, and basically, any other possible combination you can think of as long...
      08-23-2021, 03:11 PM