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Grading Mabe Pearls -5) Surface Quality

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  • Grading Mabe Pearls -5) Surface Quality

    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 patterns, lower luster, and even thinner nacre.
    • Mottling/Hammering: the presence of a discontinuous nacre crystal arrangement, usually observed as a “hammered metal” effect on the surface of the pearl.
    • Nacre Ripples: rippled markings that are usually a variety of mottling or “hammering” an optical effect due to misaligned nacre crystals that affects luster but allows the piece to look somewhat “opalescent”.
    • Organic brown deposits: these are much more common amongst Abalone pearls but may also be found in Cortez and other Mabe varieties too. These are partial protein layers that may sometimes be polished away.
    Blister Mabe pearl with many surface imperfections



    Cracks are not an imperfection, but an actual flaw. Avoid Mabe pearls with cracks.
    Mabe pearls with cracks




    Next Entries on the Subject:

    6) Mabe Pearl Nacre Quality
    7) Mabe Pearl Dome Height
    Last edited by CortezPearls; 08-23-2021, 11:31 PM.
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    • 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
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