Scallop Pearls (Pectinidae)

Scallop Pearls Defined
A scallop pearl is a non-nacreous calcareous concretion produced by any member of the Pectinidae (scallop) family. Pectinids are known for their uniquely blue colored "eyes" (actually, known as simple-eyes) found in their mantle and for their ability to "swim" using their shells and mantle to create stong "jet-streams".

Scallop Pearls, the Pacific "Lion's Paw"
Unlike other non-nacreous pearls such as the melo-melo and conch pearls, the scallop pearl comes from a bivalve mollusk known as the "Mano de León", or "Lion's Paw" or Nodipecten subnudosus. This shellfish garners its name due to the unique shape of its shell, which resembles a lion's paw
Nodipecten subnudosus shell - Click image for larger version  Name:	Lyropecten subnudosus 002.JPG Views:	0 Size:	309.7 KB ID:	451777
A large Lion's Paw valve from Baja California, Mexico.

Scallop pearls are native to the coastal waters of Central and North America and most commonly found off the coast of Baja California and the Gulf of California in Mexico. There is a cousin species of this one off the waters of the Atlantic Ocean, around Brazil (Nodipecten nudosus) but there does not seem to be a fishery for this species, nor pearls of this species.

Scallop Pearls are a Very Rare
The scallop pearl is an exceedingly rare occurrence and is the bi-product of wild-harvested scallops for the seafood market. Due to the rarity of the gem, scallops are not actually fished out for their pearls. Scallop fishermen, men that actually spend their whole lives harvesting the meat of this shellfish, may only find a small handful of pearls during their entire lifetime.
Lion's Paw Pearls - Lion's Paw Pearls
A group of Scallop Pearls from the Lion's Paw Scallop. Photo courtesy of Edgar Rodriguez (Baja Pearl Hunter).

Scallop Pearls are Uniquely Colored!
  • Scallop pearls have a unique shape and coloration absent in other calcareous concretions. Scallop pearls are generally symmetrical in an oval, round, drop, or button shape, but baroque shapes are also very common.
  • These pearls range in size from tiny "seed" sizes (1 mm) to quite large (40 carats). The color of the scallop pearl is unique among all porcelaneous pearls. Scallop pearls generally exude a rare maroon to plum coloration, and are also commonly found in white, deep purple and orange colors.

Scallop Pearls Display a Unique 3-D Visual Effect
The scallop pearl has a unique 3-dimensional effect within the reflective platelets of their surface, which adds to the unique beauty of the gem. This gives the pearl a sort of flash effect, similar to the flame-like appearance of the conch pearl.
Scallop Pearl close up image - Scallop Pearl close up image

Closeup of the surface of a Scallop pearl.

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