Grading Mabe Pearls - 3) Colors

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 that are commonly employed for Mabe pearl production, but we will again have them here for easier comparison:
Common NameScientific NameNatural Coloration
Mabe-gaiPteria penguinWhite, silvery gray, golden
South Sea MabePinctada maximaWhite, silvery gray, champagne
Tahitian MabePinctada margaritiferaDove gray with rainbow stripes
Eyris Blue PearlHaliotis irisGreen-Blue, with varied overtones
Cortez MabePteria sternaWhite, silvery gray, purple, emerald green, blue, red, coppery and golden, with varied overtones
Mabe-Colors.png - Some coomon Colors for Mabe pearls
In the case of artificial colorations, we have the typical “bright” colors (such as flamingo-pink, lemon-green, deep-golds, deep-blues, etc.) and the more traditional colorations, such as mother-of-pearl white, cream and gold and even blacks. In every case, these colors take advantage of a very thin nacre coating, so the color is actually found just beneath the thin nacred dome. There are basically three ways these colors are produced:

1. The Mabe insert (nucleus) has the desired color, and the color is seen through the very thin nacre coating.
2. During processing, the Mabe blister dome is filled with a colored epoxy, this being the color that will display through the thin nacre coating.
3. A lacquer coating is applied to the inner Mabe blister dome, and this is the color that will be displayed.
Mabe-Fake-Colors.png - Mabe with Artificial Colorations
Naturally colored blue pearls -such a as those found in Eyris and Cortez Mabe pearls- are rare and valuable, whereas those using artificial coloration are usually produced in some parts of Asia and are quite inexpensive.

Next Entries on the Subject:

4) Mabe Pearl Luster
5) Mabe Pearl Surface Quality
6) Mabe Pearl Nacre Quality
7) Mabe Pearl Dome Height
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