Pearl Education

Mabe Pearl Grading - 6) Nacre Quality

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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...

Grading Mabe Pearls -5) Surface Quality

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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...

Grading Mabe Pearls - 4) Mabe Luster

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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”...

Grading Mabe Pearls - 3) Colors

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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...

Grading Mabe Pearls - 2) Mabe Shapes

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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 as there is a...

Grading Mabe Pearls

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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:

Size
Shapes
Color
Luster
Surface Quality
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...

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