Mabe Pearls

Mabe Pearls Defined
A Mabe pearl is a worked and assembled blister pearl (attached to the shell). It is typically of hemispherical shape and is grown against the inside of the oyster's shell, rather than within its soft tissues. Natural blister pearls are commonly found in nature.
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Cultured Mabe Blisters on their shells. Photo courtesy of Dr. César Lodeiros and his research team in Ecuador.

Are Mabe Pearls Rare?
Mabe pearls are not considered rare or highly valuable, except those grown in rare species such as the "Rainbow Lip Oyster" (Pteria sterna) or the "Paua Abalone" (Haliotis iris) which are currently farmed in Mexico and New Zealand, respectively. These Mabe pearls exhibit intense metallic colors.

Mabe Pearls Develop on the Shell
Cultured Mabes are grown intentionally, by using a hemispheric nucleus, rather than a round one; and by implanting it against the oyster's shell, rather than within its tissues. The pearl then develops into a hemispheric form, with a flat back. While still attached to the mollusk's shell, it is considered a blister pearl, not a Mabe pearl: for that you need to have it fully detached and processed.

Creating Mabe Pearls
After the blister pearl has developed, it is 'worked' to become a Mabe pearl. Blister pearls are worked by cutting the pearl-blister out of the shell with a circle-bit drill or other cutting tools. The nucleus is then removed and replaced with a resin. The back of the pearl is then capped with a piece of mother-of-pearl to complete the Mabe pearl.

Mabe Pearls, Perfect for Jewelry
Cultured Mabes are used for such things as rings and earrings, rather than for stringing on necklaces. They tend to be exceptionally beautiful with high luster and orient but are priced much lower than round pearls.

Beautiful Cortez Mabe Pendant with diamonds from Ana Katarina Designs.


I. Introduction to Blister and Mabe Pearls
II. History of Blister Pearls
III. The Culture of Mabe Pearls
IV. Mabe Pearl Production Technology

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