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-SSP-Mabe-with-Surface-imperfections.png - Blister Mabe pearl with many surface imperfections

An Indonesian South Sea Mabe with several defects.
Cracks are not an imperfection, but an actual flaw. Avoid Mabe pearls with cracks.
Mabes-Cracks.png - Mabe pearls with cracks

Next Entries on the Subject:

6) Mabe Pearl Nacre Quality
7) Mabe Pearl Dome Height
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