Pearl Education

V. Processing Mabe or Natural Blisters

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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, dead animals, and...

I. Introduction to Blister and Mabe Pearls - Ultimate Guide

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I. Introduction

Blister pearls -and Mabe pearls, their modern equivalent- have been coveted, enjoyed, and worn for Centuries. But these products are not equivalent to actual pearls. Most pearl farmers consider Mabe pearls (also known as “Half-Pearls”) as a side-product, used to supplement their yearly income.
These pearls can be considered as “Pearls-on-a-Shell”, since they will be attached to the mollusk’s inner shell, either as an accident (as in the case of natural blister pearls) or...

IV. Mabe Pearl Production Technology

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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...

III. The Culture of Mabe Pearls

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From 1908 to 1943, many Japanese entrepreneurs attempted -with mixed results- to utilize the “Penguin Shaped Pearl Oyster” (Pteria penguin) to produce both cultured blisters and whole cultured pearls. It all began with Sokichi Igaya on Amami Island in 1908, but his experiments soon closed. Jusaku Nakamura and Anami Oshima were more successful, but they always had problems securing enough wild adult pearl oysters for their farms. The main problem in this initial stage was the use of...

II. History of Blister Pearls

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Blister pearls are probably the first variety of pearl product ever encountered by Humans. In Nature about one out of every 10 thousand mollusks will yield a natural, non-attached pearl (an actual pearl) but in the case of Blisters this number increases dramatically. Unfortunately, most of these blisters are not that shapely nor comely so they are never used, but those that were attractive were used for beautiful and unique settings.

There are three different kinds of Blister pearls, that...

"New Pearl Oyster Species": Pinctada persica

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On a controversial note, the SSEF lab in Basel, Switzerland, has introduced the world to a new pearl oyster species, aptly dubbed as Pinctada persica: a unique mollusk species that is only found in the Persian Gulf. This would be the first time -to my knowledge- that a pearl oyster species has been identified by its genetic markings or DNA. Previously, pearl producing species have been described and identified mainly by its shell and anatomical traits, but this is a new era of technological...

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