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Why I love and hate PS: Sea of Cortez Mabe Pearls

dk168

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@dk168 : do you mind telling me how big your SoC mabe ring is (how big the pearl is, approximately)? I am thinking of creating an earring/ring set with the set of 3 mabes above, but am afraid it's too big for a ring.
Thanks!

Here you go, from a post back in 2016!

1629154016862.png

DK :))
 

yssie

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thank you!!!! I am a ring size 7, and the pearl is approx 17 x 15mm, which sounds huge!

Wow. That’s legit huge!!

Can I be honest? I think it’s wayyy too big for a size 7 ring. Would you stack a pendant with your necklace?
 

lovedogs

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Wow. That’s legit huge!!

Can I be honest? I think it’s wayyy too big for a size 7 ring. Would you stack a pendant with your necklace?

I came to the same conclusion lol. I'm asking them about a bangle bc I want to see the pearl. I sent this pic to describe what I mean. 20200721_175823.jpg

In the meantime, enjoy the pics of the trio on the hands of one of the female employees.

WhatsApp Image 2021-08-16 at 3.55.49 PM.jpeg

This is the one that will be a pendant/bangle. The other 2 are more matched so will make good earrings:)
WhatsApp Image 2021-08-16 at 3.55.49 PM (1).jpeg


WhatsApp Image 2021-08-16 at 3.55.50 PM.jpeg
 

yssie

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Her nails match the pearls :cool2:

This is going to be such an amazing set!!!!! I’m an ear and wrist decoration person so I’m loving this new plan :love:
 

dk168

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thank you!!!! I am a ring size 7, and the pearl is approx 17 x 15mm, which sounds huge!

Roughly draw it on paper and put it on your finger to see if it suits?

Personally, I like bold pieces due to being plus size and personality as in not shy and demure. :lol-2:

The SoC mabe pearl ring is not worn much, however, it is one of my favourite cocktail rings for the right dressy events/functions.

DK :))
 

yssie

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@lovedogs There is an awesome series of articles called "Grading Mabe Pearls" on the other forum. Just read them and thought you might enjoy them too! I can't link here of course - but it's fantastic and informative so I'll copy the content directly into text here...
 

yssie

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This article series is authored by CortezPearls.

Article series begins.
- - - - - - - - - -

Grading Mabe Pearls

Mabe pearls can be graded using most of the same grading standards that we have already seen for the traditional cultured pearl:
  1. Size
  2. Shapes
  3. Color
  4. Luster
  5. Surface Quality
  6. Nacre Quality
But we can add an additional one that is quite important for this variety of pearl:
7. Dome Height

Even so, many of these value factors are not as employed as strictly as they are with regular cultured pearls, but may actually be quite lax, and if we know that there is no standardized pearl grading system, we can quite confidently say that there is an even less formal grading system for Mabe pearls.

Let us review each one of these attributes and how they pertain to Mabe cultured pearls.

1. Mabe Pearl Size

Mabe pearl sizes are highly variable. From the small 3-4 mm “Akoya Mabe” first made by Mikimoto at the start of the 20th Century all the way to large “Blister Mabe” that may reach sizes of 10 cm (almost 4 inches), but on average we can say the diameter of the “classic Mabe” is between 12 to 18 mm (0.47 and 0.70 inches).

Distributors that have a good production and inventory of Mabe pearls may have different price points for size intervals, others will not care for this attribute and will not distinguish between these. An example of this are “Cortez Mabe”, that have three different size considerations:

• Mini and Micro Mabe: Mabe pearls that have sizes between 5 and 10 mm in diameter. The smaller size does not result in a smaller value, because it is more difficult to process these smaller pieces.
• Mabe: The common sizes are between 12 and 18 mm in diameter and exclude all pearls that have a “shell fringe” around the Mabe and that would be considered as a “cultured Mabe Blister”
• Blister Mabe: Usually of a larger size than the traditional Mabe, usually of at least 20 mm and even up to 50 mm in diameter, and usually having a shell fringe that varies in size and shape, depending on the piece.

A remarkably interesting thing to notice here is that a smaller size does not necessarily mean a smaller economic value: it is much harder for the processors to manufacture smaller Mabe pearls, so they may even demand for a higher price for the smaller pieces, and this is the opposite to (loose) cultured pearls.

2. Mabe Pearl Shapes

Mabe pearls can have any shape desired, as long as you attach it to the mollusk’s shell. Some cultured pearls have done this same thing, especially some freshwater pearls that have used faceted mother-of-pearl beads to produce so called “diamond pearls”, or star- and even shuriken- shaped pearls, but in the case of Mabe pearls it is even much varied and you can find hearts, stars, teardrops, ovals, crosses, and basically, any other possible combination you can think of as long as there is a flat spot on it.

Even so, one of the most sought-after shapes is the aptly named “Classic Mabe” shape, which is perfectly hemispherical and with a high dome (not flattened). This shape is preferred by high-volume jewelry producers, since this shape is usually calibrated, and many jewelry items can be easily fashioned with this particular shape. Even so, most designers will prefer the whimsical shapes also available to produce one-of-a-kind items.
Common Mabe pearl shapes

Abalone Mabe, Mabe-gai Mabe and South Sea Mabe are regularly available in the classic shapes, whereas Cortez, Fiji and Tahitian Mabe usually lean on the more baroque and whimsical shapes.

3. Mabe Pearl 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

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 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.

4. Mabe Pearl Luster

Mabe pearls are not very known for their great luster, although many of these pearls may display amazing luster. Mabe usually display a more silky or subdued luster, especially in the Pinctada species and is most shiny in the Pteria species…but luster is usually enhanced by means of a final polishing, done with a high-speed cloth-wheel and a polishing compound, although much care must be taken to avoid excessive polishing that leads to heat and may ultimately damage the pearls by “burning” them. These “burn spots” resemble brown colored discolorations and when examined closely reveal many small cracks.
NZ Abalone Mabe Quality Grades


On the image above we see that the higher grade Mabe pearls will display less surface imperfections and higher luster.

5. Mabe Pearl 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 Mabe pearl with many surface imperfections


Cracks are not an imperfection, but an actual flaw. Avoid Mabe pearls with cracks.

Mabe pearls with cracks


6. Mabe Pearl Nacre Quality

The most important factor here is nacre thickness. Many Mabe are cultured for short periods of time (4 months) to obtain the most perfect shape, but at the expense of their nacre thickness and durability. On the other hand, there are producers that grown them for too long (over 12 months) and end up having pearls that have thick nacre, but their shapes are not standardized, and they may display one or more of the surface imperfections we discussed in the previous paragraph. There is usually a middle ground for optimal Mabe pearl production, balancing the amount of pearl covering and the best looks.

SS Mabe pearl cut in half


The thickest Mabe pearls are usually Cortez, South Sea and Tahitian, and the ones with thinner nacre are the traditional Mabe (Pteria penguin), which are mostly now produced in Indonesia, and Abalone Mabe.

7. Mabe Pearl Dome Height

Part of the beauty of a Mabe pearl comes from its “dome” (height). When a Mabe pearl displays a low dome it most closely resembles a piece of mother-of-pearl shell than an actual pearl. Unfortunately, many Mabe pearls today are grown too flat, due to the intrinsic characteristic of the host shell: Pinctada shells are usually flatter than Pteria shells (the shells being much more concave) which does not allow for the use of tall implants, since these will touch the opposite shell and will cause the pearl to fail.

Mabe with high dome also have an uneven nacre deposition, with the “crown” (the topmost portion of the dome) having little nacre and the bottom (near the shell) having a much better nacre coating. Regardless, Mabe with a higher dome are considered more valuable.

Closing Remarks

Mabe pearls are a unique pearl product, but not equal to actual cultured pearls. The fact that they always have a flat size and are heavily processed make them quite different. These pearls have been integrated into this course mainly because this knowledge offers you a deeper understanding into the wide world of pearls.

Mabe pearls are most often relegated to the status of an easier form of income for pearl farmers that are just starting their farms (since they are produced in less time) or to supplement the farm’s income at the moment of harvest, but many varieties are not only attractive but valuable.

mini-mabe' Sea of Cortez pearl necklace from Kojima Pearl Company

A unique Cortez Mabe Pearl necklace. Photo courtesy of “Kojima Pearls”.

- - - - - - - - - -
Article series ends.
 

MakingTheGrade

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My mabe pendant has quickly become a favorite staple so I can’t wait to see your mabe projects come together. We will need all the pics!
 

lovedogs

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EVERYTHING IS READY and I got some quick teaser pics :)

I am extremely happy with them, especially since these were quick pics snapped at the end of the day when the photographer at the farm got the package.

IMG_8802.JPG

IMG_8803.JPG


IMG_8808.JPG



My only concern is that the gold chain is too "jarring" next to the silver bezels. The chain needed to be thick so it would hold the pearls without any issues. I could ask them to rhodium dip the chain...what do people think?
IMG_8813.JPG
 

Cerulean

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EVERYTHING IS READY and I got some quick teaser pics :)

I am extremely happy with them, especially since these were quick pics snapped at the end of the day when the photographer at the farm got the package.

IMG_8802.JPG

IMG_8803.JPG


IMG_8808.JPG



My only concern is that the gold chain is too "jarring" next to the silver bezels. The chain needed to be thick so it would hold the pearls without any issues. I could ask them to rhodium dip the chain...what do people think?
IMG_8813.JPG

Oh, love these! The bangle was a neat idea.

I think I agree about the chain with rhodium, it's distracting from the pearls a bit IMO.
 

lovedogs

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Ok, so I'm potentially changing my mind after seeing their pics/video on social media.





The contrast looks pretty good here, which is what I was originally hoping for.
 

yssie

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Everything looks FANTASTIC!!! The necklace turned out really beautifully - and the earrings and bangle look so wearable :love:

I would hold off on the rhodium, definitely see it in-person first. I have a feeling the yellow might look starker in their photos than in real life - and against skin the chain might be even more subtle. I really really like the spacing on the necklace - it’s #Statement without being cluttered at all :love:

Can’t wait to see your pics and hear your thoughts when you get them all!
 

lovedogs

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Everything looks FANTASTIC!!! The necklace turned out really beautifully - and the earrings and bangle look so wearable :love:

I would hold off on the rhodium, definitely see it in-person first. I have a feeling the yellow might look starker in their photos than in real life - and against skin the chain might be even more subtle. I really really like the spacing on the necklace - it’s #Statement without being cluttered at all :love:

Can’t wait to see your pics and hear your thoughts when you get them all!

That's what I was thinking. I should wait until I see it IRL. I truly love everything!!!
 

Cinders

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Ahhhhh!!! I saw this on their IG!!! SO gorgeous!!!!!! I like the contrast of the chain---it makes it so much more unique. Very not-off-the-rack, IYKWIM. Congrats on so many fabulous beauties coming your way!
 

Cerulean

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Ok, so I'm potentially changing my mind after seeing their pics/video on social media.





The contrast looks pretty good here, which is what I was originally hoping for.

Oh yeah, I totally agree. It was the lighting
 

yssie

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@lovedogs Have they shipped out yet?

I hope it’s okay to raise one potential concern before they ship, in case it’s something that needs to be addressed!

1632444590935.png

In this photo the seven motifs are all laid out flat, so they “hang” nicely - they all extend nice and neat from the chain. When the necklace is on actually on the neck gravity will pull the bottom motif downward so it will hang nicely, but how will the other motifs hang - especially those near the back of the chain, and on the side of the neck? My concern is that they will droop downward too much because of where the chain is attached to each bezel (not in the middle, so it’s an uneven weight distribution).

Can you have someone at the farm take some photos of it being worn to ensure a pleasing drape is retained?
 
Last edited:

lovedogs

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@lovedogs Have they shipped out yet?

I hope it’s okay to raise one potential concern before they ship, in case it’s something that needs to be addressed!

1632444590935.png

In this photo the seven motifs are all laid out flat, so they “hang” nicely - they all extend nice and neat from the chain. When the necklace is on actually on the neck gravity will pull the bottom motif downward so it will hang nicely, but how will the other motifs hang - especially those near the back of the chain, and on the side of the neck? My concern is that they will droop downward too much because of where the chain is attached to each bezel (not in the middle, so it’s an uneven weight distribution).

Can you have someone at the farm take some photos of it being worn to ensure a pleasing drape is retained?

@yssie what do you think? Quick pics of the necklace being worn and I'm happy w the "drape". They go forward a tiny bit when worn, but I think IRL I'll be totally fine with it. My biggest concern was that they don't "flip" because I've had to re-home multiple necklaces where motifs flip because I just can't stand it.

Thank you to Michelle for kindly "modeling" it for me!
WhatsApp Image 2021-09-27 at 9.56.01 AM.jpeg WhatsApp Image 2021-09-27 at 9.56.02 AM.jpeg
 

yssie

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Oooh. Those hang REALLY nicely on the neck. I wasn’t sure what they would do, apparently I totally worrywarted for nothing :lol:

I know what you mean about flipping!! And I don’t see these guys flipping over!

Those mabes look amazing next to bright pink. OMG. I need to stop looking at those pics before the green eyed monster wakes up :cool2: :geek: :love: :love: :love:
 

lovedogs

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Oooh. Those hang REALLY nicely on the neck. I wasn’t sure what they would do, apparently I totally worrywarted for nothing :lol:

I know what you mean about flipping!! And I don’t see these guys flipping over!

Those mabes look amazing next to bright pink. OMG. I need to stop looking at those pics before the green eyed monster wakes up :cool2: :geek: :love: :love: :love:

No, I appreciate you bringing it up! Having all of the possible info before shipping is important, especially since they are being shipped international so it would be a huge pain to send back.
 

Cerulean

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@yssie what do you think? Quick pics of the necklace being worn and I'm happy w the "drape". They go forward a tiny bit when worn, but I think IRL I'll be totally fine with it. My biggest concern was that they don't "flip" because I've had to re-home multiple necklaces where motifs flip because I just can't stand it.

Thank you to Michelle for kindly "modeling" it for me!
WhatsApp Image 2021-09-27 at 9.56.01 AM.jpeg WhatsApp Image 2021-09-27 at 9.56.02 AM.jpeg

Omg it’s so stunning! And the yellow gold chain looks amazing actually - I was dead wrong!
 

lovedogs

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Everything arrived, and frankly, I am really upset.

First, the good. The pearls themselves are gorgeous in color.

The bad:

The first thing I noticed when trying on the bracelet is that it felt weirdly unstable. I took it off and realized there's a crack in the metal.

The necklace came twisted and one of the back of the Pearls is cracked (I assume from them hitting one another in transit).

The stations on the necklace sit really awkwardly and the top ones flip back and forth constantly. @yssie your concerns about drape were spot on, and frankly it just doesnt look right at all.

The earrings are very painful to wear. The posts are super thick, so normal earring backs wont work, and they are short, so I have to fight to get the earring back on. The backs that came with them are uncomfortable.

Overall I am beyond disappointed. All together the jeweler is the issue, not the pearl farm. I should have purchased them loose and had everything set here, but I wanted to work with their recommended folks. I am afraid that this will end up being an extremely expensive lesson :(

But I am writing the farm now to discuss these problems and will see what they say. Again, the pearls themselves are lovely and not a problem at all.

Pretty colors:
20210929_145936.jpg 20210929_145617.jpg 20210929_145836.jpg

Awkward drape and flipped pearl:

20210929_164531.jpg

More awkward drape:
20210929_164545.jpg

Cracked pearl back:
20210929_145725.jpg

Cracked metal on bracelet
20210929_165448.jpg

Edit. Pic of the earring posts/back. Of course I don't expect them to be as thin as the studs next to them, but they are SO thick
20210929_165721.jpg
 

Cinders

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Oh no, @lovedogs ! I'm sorry you're unhappy with your (very pretty) new jewels. It's the worst when a much-anticipated purchase ends up being very disappointing!!

I hope you get everything quickly resolved to your satisfaction.
 

Cinders

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Repositioning the pearls on the necklace could help with the drape & it shouldn't be too difficult to replace the posts on the earrings. I'm hopeful, for your sake, it might not be terribly complicated. (Fingers crossed!)

(Take everything I said with a massive grain of salt since I have no idea what I'm talking about --I'm just hoping for a good outcome for you.)
 

mommylawyer

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Everything arrived, and frankly, I am really upset.

First, the good. The pearls themselves are gorgeous in color.

The bad:

The first thing I noticed when trying on the bracelet is that it felt weirdly unstable. I took it off and realized there's a crack in the metal.

The necklace came twisted and one of the back of the Pearls is cracked (I assume from them hitting one another in transit).

The stations on the necklace sit really awkwardly and the top ones flip back and forth constantly. @yssie your concerns about drape were spot on, and frankly it just doesnt look right at all.

The earrings are very painful to wear. The posts are super thick, so normal earring backs wont work, and they are short, so I have to fight to get the earring back on. The backs that came with them are uncomfortable.

Overall I am beyond disappointed. All together the jeweler is the issue, not the pearl farm. I should have purchased them loose and had everything set here, but I wanted to work with their recommended folks. I am afraid that this will end up being an extremely expensive lesson :(

But I am writing the farm now to discuss these problems and will see what they say. Again, the pearls themselves are lovely and not a problem at all.

Pretty colors:
20210929_145936.jpg 20210929_145617.jpg 20210929_145836.jpg

Awkward drape and flipped pearl:

20210929_164531.jpg

More awkward drape:
20210929_164545.jpg

Cracked pearl back:
20210929_145725.jpg

Cracked metal on bracelet
20210929_165448.jpg

Edit. Pic of the earring posts/back. Of course I don't expect them to be as thin as the studs next to them, but they are SO thick
20210929_165721.jpg

How disappointing! I really sympathize with you. I was reading through your thread and all your pieces looked so lovely. Then to have every piece arrive with an issue. I know it must be frustrating.
 

mommylawyer

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I wonder if a two-inch necklace extender would get the flippy pearl into a better position and improve the drape? It might be worth a shot.
 

lovedogs

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I wonder if a two-inch necklace extender would get the flippy pearl into a better position and improve the drape? It might be worth a shot.

Good point, I didn't think of that. I like the current length, but I do have a necklace extender I can try.
 
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