Identifying pearls: the body heat method

This blog entry is made possible thanks to the direct request of one of our readers. About a month ago reader “Carolina” wrote:

Hello! Somebody in there? …How does the body heat test work? ‘Cause I was told that if I touched my face with an imitation pearl and a real pearl would be able to tell which one is real or fake because the real one is a gemstone and stones are cold. Is this true? I ask because Majorica pearls are made with glass beads and glass is cold…so?

And I answered her back and I did come to realize that she was right: there is a much needed answer. But I do have to say that this method is not very reliable and there are many factors that can hinder your success rate at identifying pearls…but this is a fun method so let us Just Do It!

And I will also share with you 2 additional methods –just as unreliable as the “body heat test”- but that you may also find interesting: the “Fluidity Test” and the “Sound Test”.

For this blog post I would like to use the Vlog or Video-Blog system to show you how these tests work. For this particular set of tests I will employ 3 different pearl necklaces:

  • A Cortez Pearl Necklace, made with 8 mm round pearls,
  • an imitation pearl necklace from Mallorca Pearls and
  • an imitation strand made with mother-of-pearl (MOP) beads; I have to thank my very good friend Michael Rivers for supplying me with this strand.
Cortez Pearl Necklace
A Cortez Pearl strand.
3 Imitation/Faux Pearl Strands: (Left to Right) Mother of pearl bead with plastic coating (gray), Mallorca Pearls (cream & gray) & white mother of pearl bead strand.
3 Imitation/Faux Pearl Strands: (Left to Right) Mother of pearl bead with plastic coating (gray), Mallorca Pearls (cream & gray) & white mother of pearl bead strand.

Besides these necklaces we require an adequate environmental temperature. What do I mean by this? That for optimum results we require the best environmental conditions for this test: we need a cold & dry environment. Humidity interferes with your abilities and a very warm weather will definitively not help. So try it our during fall, winter and even springtime or inside an air conditioned place.

Now, once you have the necklaces and the adequate conditions you need to know how to use these methods which are based 100% on your sense of TOUCH: you will have to feel textures, viscosity and –of course- heat. There are parts of your body that are more sensitive than others and some people are more sensitive than others too! So don’t expect these methods to work the same way for everyone. I recommend that you master these tests by using different parts of your body –such as your forehead, cheeks and lips- at different times of the day or week because you might discover you are much more sensitive at different times or moments.

Very well then, let’s get our hands dirty! Pun intended.

I recommend you start by comparing two different strands at a time and that you allow some time (at least 3-5 minutes) between tests to “clear” your system from the previous experience. Also, avoid placing your necklaces near any heat source (TV, computer, ovens, etc.).

Now, watch the video before you proceed.

Now for the details…

Pearl Fluidity/Viscosity.

It’s not that pearl necklaces are “viscous” but they do slide or flow when you gently slide them against your skin. Pearls are soft and silky, and mostly without sharp edges so they flow very naturally on your hands.

On the other hand, imitation pearls (also called fake or faux perles) are coated with plastic and are far less fluid and feel “sticky” when in your hands and are warmed.

Use your lips to slide the pearls in a sensuous manner: bearded men please avoid this or if you do have to do it please don’t post any pictures. Winking smile

The Body Heat Method

Pearls are made of Nacre and Nacre is made out of Calcium Carbonate. And it so happens that Calcium Carbonate is not such a great heat nor energy conductor and is quite thermo-stable (remains with its own temperature for some time). You need to leave a shell or pearl exposed to a continued source of heat for it to absorb heat…or you may mechanically heat them by polishing or drilling them.

Under a normal body temperature (between 35-37 Celsius or 95-98.6 Fahrenheit) there is not enough heat to noticeably increase the temperature of the pearls (the real ones) and they loose their warmth easily…whereas plastic and glass absorb and conserve heat much faster than nacre/pearl.

The Pearl Sound (Clinking) Test

There are some that say you can easily id pearls just by the mere sound they produce when the pearls touch each other, when they fall on a given surface or they slither against each other. They produce their own “music”…but I am unfortunate to say I don’t have a very musical ear.

I would not recommend this method but it is quite up to you to use it. Pearls do have a different sound from imitation pearls and other beads but I can’t really distinguish it unless I have the source pearls for comparison.

Final Thoughts

I do hope you have enjoyed this new Vlog format for the Cortez Pearl blog, so it becomes much more dynamic and useful for you.

Please do send in your comments!

Black Pearls & Pea crabs!

Hello again! I’ve been a bit busy with many of the changes that are taking place here at the Pearl farm but today we were harvesting a couple of experimental lots of Black-lipped pearl oysters (Pinctada mazatlanica) and we –of course- found what we expected -black and gray colored pearls- but we also found something quite unexpected: an unknown species of crab.

These pearl oysters had been seeded back in 2013 and were ripe for harvesting. This was possibly the largest experiment we had done with this species –remember we basically use and prefer the “Rainbow Lip pearl Oyster” which makes much more colorful and lustrous pearls.

The Black Pearls

These pearls are very baroque in shapes, the dominant color being gray with some very dark-black ones. Many keshis in the group.

Perlas de Pinctada Implantadas Junio 2013 y Cangrejos Cacahuate Leopardo (16)

Many more black-lips were seeded this year, so next year we will have more interesting results (these are experimental so you don’t have to grow them for the full 2 years…at least not for all of them).

Now, as I said before: we were expecting the usual things…pearls and the small Pontoniid shrimp that live inside the black-lips, but we found something else…crabs!

Leopard Pea Crabs

That is the name I gave them since I had never seen crabs like these before. And I had never –in my over 20 years of working with black-lips- ever seen these crabs before! The Rainbow-lips have their own variety of “Pea crab” living inside them, they are cream colored and have a taller shell with very soft shells, but these are strikingly different. Very different.

Perlas de Pinctada Implantadas Junio 2013 y Cangrejos Cacahuate Leopardo (3)

The shells are more flattened, they seem to move faster than the others and are a bit more agile too…at least when comparing with the other variety Winking smile but their dot checked body is what really makes them special…the Leopard pea crab, fierce name for such a small and harmless creature.

So, we found 4 of these crabs, 3 males and one female. They were each inside their own oyster shell host…alone and not in couples like the little shrimps do.

You can watch this short video of these little crabs, narrated in Spanish and English (wait until you hear the language you want).

The specimens have been preserved so if you are a crab specialist and would like to take a look at these, identify them or even describe them as a new species please do let us know.

Black pearls and Pea Crabs…an odd but unique combination that you can only find here at the Cortez Pearl Farm in Guaymas, Sonora, Mexico.

Here & back again: how to reach our pearl farm

October is finally here! Weather has improved and is now hovering at around a very pleasant 31/22 Celsius (88/71 F), the mosquitoes –I hope- will soon be leaving (we had a very wet summer this year) and the mornings and evenings are starting to feel clean and crisp again…ultimately this means that once again we will see the usual influx of our dear “Snow Birds” from Canada and the United States. Welcome back to Guaymas & San Carlos! We’ve missed you dearly!

The pearl has been here since 1994 but we still hear –from our visitors- that it is a bit difficult to reach our pearl farm since there are not enough road or street signs to point them on their way. So this Blog post is all about just trying to help you out to reach us in the least possible time.

One possible way is for you to simply click on this Bing Maps link so you can follow the detailed and updated instructions, or you can read the rest of this post to obtain more information. Since I will be writing for some very long hours I do hope you will be kind enough to read the rest Smile .

Bacochibampo 036

So let us first head out of San Carlos (you are possibly already there) and towards the international (Guaymas-Hermosillo) highway. On your way there you have a couple of options: the “Scenic Route” or the “Fast Route”. Which one to take? It’s your choice but let me tell you the advantages of each.

The Scenic Route (Dolphinarium & Tinajas)

I love this route when I am relaxed from a day at the beach or desert in San Carlos and driving back with my family, specially when the sunset is coming…beautiful, stunning views of both Bacochibampo and San Francisco Bays. I specially LOVE the way the sunsets behind the “León Echado” island (Sitting Lion)…but I don’t have any great photos of this view so I would ask you to view the ones taken by Maru Ayón and Fernanda Calderón. Please do visit their page about this beautiful island for more amazing photos and a some really good information.

Other nice views include the Natural Preserve of “Estero del Soldado” and our coastline…where the Sonoran Desert meets the Gulf of California.

Estero del Soldado (1)

You take this route from the main San Carlos highway (Blvd. Manlio Fabio Beltrones) to your right (where the ocean is) and just follow its path and avoiding all the potholes on the way (after this very rainy season we have an outlandish collection of potholes all over the area) which actually makes for a very interesting ride and helps hone your driving skills. You will see the road signs (white text on blue background) that will inform you by means of  the words “Delfinario” (Dolphinarium) or “Granja de Perlas” (Pearl Farm). Eventually you will arrive at a residential area (Tinajas) that has cobblestone streets and probably one of the places where the famous Irish rock band “U2” became inspired to write their 1986 instant success song “Where the Streets have No Name”: Yes, we actually have a street officially named “Calle Sin Nombre” (No Name Street).

Anyway, just keep driving by following the path of the road and it will constrict to a narrow 2-way road and just keep going straight ahead. You will eventually arrive at an intersection with Boulevard Luis Encinas Johnson. There are a couple of signs there, one says “ITESM” (the old name of our school, were the farm is presently located), there is another one that says “Granja de Perlas” in the official white-blue system and the main sign that tell you to take the right to “Miramar”. Take to right after the stop sign.

 Tinajas

This is what you will see once you take to the right: a wide boulevard. Notice the speed bump ahead: reduce your speed to a halt and have your car crawl on top of it and then down. Your car’s mufflers will thank you. Keep driving straight ahead.

camino a Perlas-29

You will see two Oxxo stores coming up (the first one to your left, on the “Las Perlas” residential area…but this is not the farm site)…and this is just an interesting note on the side: there are so many Oxxo convenience stores in Guaymas now that you can use them as road markers…or not.

camino a Perlas-34

Just keep driving and before you see the 2nd Oxxo (on your right) you will find another large speed-bump, just do as before.

camino a Perlas-35

Keep driving straight ahead, the road will curve a bit and head to the “Miramar” area. You will see an official sign on the right again. Don’t take to the right or you will head to the “Miramar” residential and beach area. Just drive ahead and you will now notice another musical landmark…The Wall.

camino a Perlas-37

camino a Perlas-39

Please do not confuse this brown, rustic brick wall as the inspiration for Pink Floyd’s successful album “The Wall”: this wall serves no purpose but to rob us of the beautiful views of the sunset, so just drive ahead until you see the main entrance to the “Hotel Playas de Cortés”.

camino a Perlas-43

Now, don’t drive inside the hotel unless you plan to spend a bit of time inside this beautiful Hacienda-like hotel, or go to its restaurant-bar and enjoy a drink and admire the amazing woodwork, or just stay there and watch the sun slowly melting into the horizon.

Focus! You’re trying to reach the Pearl Farm…so now just kind of turn your head to the left and notice a small “Police shack”, a beautiful Jacaranda tree (usually flowering year round with fiery orange flowers) and another sign that lets you know you are on your way…

camino a Perlas-44

Drive straight into the road and you are now in the “Lomas de Cortés” residential area. Just drive a bit and you will have a round-about to your left, but you don’t want to go there…the ocean will be on your right side so keep to your right. You will notice another (small) sign under the tree that lets you know you should keep to your right. Right?

camino a Perlas-46

Drive slowly since there are always some potholes in this area and also a couple of small speed bumps (not “epic speed bumps”, like the previous ones).

camino a Perlas-49

camino a Perlas-51

camino a Perlas-53

There will be no more signs or indications on this part, but just keep to your right and on the main street (called Boulevard Lomas de Cortés) until you see a big square-shaped entrance in a blue-pistachio green color (I suggested they should have added a dash of “flamingo pink” to make it more appealing but they did not take to my suggestion) with a big sign that says “Universidad Tec Milenio”, but never to be overshadowed we have our own sign next to the guard post that says “Bienvenidos to Perlas del Mar de Cortez”.

camino a Perlas-59

camino a Perlas-60

Drive past the square arch and there may be a school guard at the entrance who will ask you some questions in Spanish, so a quick “No hablo Español” or a “las perlas” will do for you. There is a nice parking area and just park where you want, take a flight of steps up the main white colored building (called CECARENA) and you have arrived!

camino a Perlas-63

It wasn’t that hard…was it?!?!?!? I don’t know…I always drive on auto-pilot so I cannot be the better judge, so if you feel like you have a suggestion please do let me know how I can improve this tutorial and I will be more than happy to better it for you all Smile.

Now I will continue with the detailed explanation on the route I call the “Fast Route”.

Fast Route – Main Highway Road

Unlike the “Scenic” or “Dolphinarium road” route, this one comes into Guaymas by traveling on the Nogales-Mexico City highway so you have to head out of the San Carlos-Nuevo Guaymas area and turn right onto the international road and just keep driving ahead into Guaymas.

You will see some landmarks such as “Home Depot” (on your right side) and “Wal-Mart/Sam’s Club” on your left. But before I continue I have to make a small advertisement about one of my favorite restaurants in the area: “Los Arbolitos de Cajeme”.

camino a Perlas-1

camino a Perlas-3

camino a Perlas-2

This is one of the places where we take our valued guests and friends out for dinner or lunch, great place for steaks but it really shines on the seafood side. The octopus…you really have to try the “Pulpo a las Brasas” if you don’t try anything else, a simple yet incredibly tasty delicacy. This restaurant is somewhat pricey, but if you feel like having a great Sonoran food experience this is the place to stop at. So, if you feel like eating here it is just across from Wal-Mart and the food at this location is far better than the one in San Carlos, where you have a much better view, so it all depends: do you enjoy your meal much more than the view??? You decide.

Anyway, just keep driving towards Guaymas. On the horizon you will see our only overhead pass and behind it the “Holiday Inn’s” tower. This is one of our most important or neuralgic area since many universities, schools, temples…and Shrines for taste buds (restaurants) are located. So keep an eye open for those!  The area where we have the “Cinemex” movie theatre is a place where you can also enjoy great coffee at “Mr. John’s Coffee Shop”, ice cream at “Thrifty’s”, sushi and Asian cuisine at “Konuti Sushi” and finally all sorts of healthy foods at “City Salads”.

camino a Perlas-5

Another great restaurant that I and my family enjoy is “Mariscos El Rey” for both hot and cold seafood delicacies…the “Ceviche mitotero” is a great option, but the tacos, fish fillets and specialties like the “Mirrey” will be sure to please all…and the prices are a bit less pricey than the previous restaurant.  This restaurant will be on your left side so it is best to visit it once you come back from the farm…you will drive on the overhead pass/bridge and just as you come to the main avenue you are there! Just find a parking spot and you are done…by the way, if it is your birthday do inform the waiter and they will treat you right!

Anyway, you must now take to your right and you will merge with the overhead pass’ traffic so be careful. There will be a 2 way stop sign ahead. Stop, wait your turn and drive.

camino a Perlas-21

Now, this is yet another good food option! This is “Mariscos El Mazateño” where you can enjoy a hot or fresh seafood meal in a palapa setting (meaning: no AC). This restaurant’s main hit are its tacos…unlike any other tacos in the region I may add: they do have the traditional “fish tacos” that everyone has but they also marinate their seafood with spicy hot sauces and then add cheddar cheese on top and…man! They are really good! The octopus, the “Perrón” and the “Mazateño” are my personal favs. By the way, their prices are a bit lower so you can eat more and spend less.

That was my last “foodie” suggestion, now I have to concentrate on getting you to the farm! Focus!

Ok, just drive ahead and you will have a Gym on your right side (just after seeing a building called “Titanic” that is kind of shaped like a big boat) and you will notice a big speed bump. Come to an almost –better yet, a full- stop and “climb” this speed bump. Continue driving.

camino a Perlas-26

This is what you will see ahead of you: a wide boulevard. Notice the speed bump ahead so reduce your speed to a halt and have your car crawl on top of it and then down. Your car’s mufflers will thank you. Keep driving straight ahead.

camino a Perlas-29

You will see two Oxxo stores coming up (the first one to your left, on the “Las Perlas” residential area…but this is not the farm site)…and this is just an interesting note on the side: there are so many Oxxo convenience stores in Guaymas now that you can use them as road markers…or not.

camino a Perlas-34

Just keep driving and before you see the 2nd Oxxo (on your right) you will find another large speed-bump, just do as before.

camino a Perlas-35

Keep driving straight ahead, the road will curve a bit and head to the “Miramar” area. You will see an official sign on the right again. Don’t take to the right or you will head to the “Miramar” residential and beach area. Just drive ahead and you will now notice another musical landmark…The Wall.

camino a Perlas-37

camino a Perlas-39

Please do not confuse this brown, rustic brick wall as the inspiration for Pink Floyd’s successful album “The Wall”: this wall serves no purpose but to rob us of the beautiful views of the sunset, so just drive ahead until you see the main entrance to the “Hotel Playas de Cortés”.

camino a Perlas-43

Now, don’t drive inside the hotel unless you plan to spend a bit of time inside this beautiful Hacienda-like hotel, or go to its restaurant-bar and enjoy a drink and admire the amazing woodwork, or just stay there and watch the sun slowly melting into the horizon.

Focus! You’re trying to reach the Pearl Farm…so now just kind of turn your head to the left and notice a small “Police shack”, a beautiful Jacaranda tree (usually flowering year round with fiery orange flowers) and another sign that lets you know you are on your way…

camino a Perlas-44

Drive straight into the road and you are now in the “Lomas de Cortés” residential area. Just drive a bit and you will have a round-about to your left, but you don’t want to go there…the ocean will be on your right side so keep to your right. You will notice another (small) sign under the tree that lets you know you should keep to your right. Right?

camino a Perlas-46

Drive slowly since there are always some potholes in this area and also a couple of small speed bumps (not “epic speed bumps”, like the previous ones).

camino a Perlas-49

camino a Perlas-51

camino a Perlas-53

There will be no more signs or indications on this part, but just keep to your right and on the main street (called Boulevard Lomas de Cortés) until you see a big square-shaped entrance in a blue-pistachio green color (I suggested they should have added a dash of “flamingo pink” to make it more appealing but they did not take to my suggestion) with a big sign that says “Universidad Tec Milenio”, but never to be overshadowed we have our own sign next to the guard post that says “Bienvenidos to Perlas del Mar de Cortez”.

camino a Perlas-59

camino a Perlas-60

Drive past the square arch and there may be a school guard at the entrance who will ask you some questions in Spanish, so a quick “No hablo Español” or “a las perlas” will do for you. There is a nice parking area and just park where you want, take a flight of steps up the main white colored building (called CECARENA) and you have arrived!

camino a Perlas-63

It wasn’t that hard…was it?!?!?!? I don’t know…I always drive on auto-pilot so I cannot be the better judge, so if you feel like you have a suggestion please do let me know how I can improve this tutorial and I will be more than happy to better it for you all Smile.

Closing Remarks

So, how did you like this “Pearl Farm Road Map”??? Does it provide you with useful information? Did it help you reach the farm more easily? Did you like the food?

In any case, I would love to hear from you and make improvements required to help you –our  valued friends and customers-reach our Pearl farm with ease, safety…and a full stomach Winking smile

Have a great trip to Guaymas-San Carlos and enjoy your stay here with us. Thank you!

The Best Cortez pearls of all: 2008-2015

I take off this week by continuing were last I left my blog entry…in an engagingly erotochromic post about the most beautiful Cortez Cultured Pearls of All times!

And we are going to start with the pearl that I personally believe is the MOST BEAUTIFUL CORTEZ CULTURED PEARL that we have ever produced from this farm. And this pearl was produced from the…

2008 Pearl Harvest

Before I tell you about this amazingly, stunningly beautiful pearl I will recount you of hurricane “Julio”, one of the fiercest hurricanes to have hit Guaymas. But fortunately this damage was done after we had harvested our pearls.

This particular pearl is prominently featured in our original “Sea of Cortez Pearl Video” and appeared several times in a thread over at the Pearl-Guide.com forum. It was part of a group of drop shaped pearls that I fondly called the “Drop Dead Gorgeous Pearls”.

This particular beauty had a striking luster to it -all-natural as expected- and at its base it had a very dark purple blue color that started changing into a rainbow of colors until the very tip became a beautiful lavender-pink color, and features amazing overtones. The pearl measures 9.5 mm at its widest and the colors are absolutely EROTOCHROMIC.Drop Dead Gorgeous Pearls (7)

I was truly happy to sell this particular pearl to a very good pair of “pearly foster parents” that live in Tel Aviv, Israel. The Holy Land…to me this had a special meaning and over the years this couple became one of my dearest friends. Nora had the pearl set into a pendant-pearl enhancer to use with her Akoya pearl necklace for a very beautiful and striking piece.

Nora Akoya Necklace with Cortez Pendant

The pearl is named “Epyolotli” which is the Nahuatl (Aztec) word for “Pearl” and it means “Heart of the Pearl Oyster”. I really like this name.

2009 Harvest

Then, a year later we also had more splendid pearls…not a single pearl that was equal to Nora’s 2008 pearl but that year was marked by larger than usual pearls.

2009’s largest and most beautiful pearl was sold to one of our US based buyers and I called it “La Bella” or “The Beautiful”: a lustrous, shiny 12 mm near-round pearl with a dark-green body color and a vibrant violet color.

Perlas cosecha 2009 Grandes 008 copy

Here you can see “La Bella” next to other gem grade Cortez pearls of around 10 mm in diameter.

That particular year we barely avoided the farm’s destruction by the disastrous effects of hurricane “Jimena”, which destroyed much of our State’s infrastructure . Guaymas was ravaged by it, so I may not have talked much about this particular pearl. Too much going on.

2010 Harvest

This was –for most Mexicans I believe- a year of shadows and lights: this year marked the 100th anniversary of the Mexican Revolution and 200th anniversary of our Independence from Spain, so it was supposed to be a year of celebrations…but we were in trapped in a terrible economic recession and in the midst of violence –in some parts of our country, but not really around our area- due to the drug trafficking cartels.

But while trapped under conditions we could not help improve (we could neither issue moral fiber –nor brain matter- to our so called leaders) we kept doing what we believe in: growing beautiful and sustainable Cortez Pearls. That year’s harvest was really good and we had one particular pearl that I named as “Matrioshka”, a unique Russian doll-shaped dark purple pearl with beautiful green overtones.

2010 Harvest 008

I simply loved this pearl and its name just came out of my mouth when I took it out of it’s mother oyster. Measuring at around 10.5 mm it was purchased by my very good friends Jeremy (CEO of Pearl Paradise.com) and Hisano Shepherd, who had the pearl fitted into a lovely and colorful design made by Hisano. I was so happy to see this amazing pearl become a work of art! The chain actually paid the pearl a fitting homage by also having its contour. Lovely piece isn’t it???

MatryoshkaCAD03

2011 Harvest

The year 2011 was yet another challenging year. I actually don’t want to even talk about some of the things that happened, but I also mark this year as the beginning of my “personal awakening”,  so it was kind of waking up from a terrible nightmare and seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.  One must really be grateful for the “bad times” since they actually build up your character and allow you to become a better version of yourself.

2011’s best pearl was an incredibly erotochromic pearl. A chunky baroque pearl that was so dramatically different that it was like watching a person with a dual personality.

On one of its sides it was a beautiful cyan-true blue color and on its other side it had the same blue with golden and bright violet.

Baroque Rainbow Pearl #4 Cathy (1)Baroque Rainbow Pearl #4 Cathy (3)

This pearl was purchased at the 2011 Pearl Ruckus by my friend Cathy. I don’t know if she gave this pearl a name but I had called it “Chunky”…I know! Not a glamorous name for a beautiful pearl but to me this name is really special…a pet name of sorts for someone I love.

2012 Harvest

Our worries were definitively not over. This year I fell ill and I was unable to photograph much of the pearls from this harvest. I don’t even recall a personal favorite pearl at all!

Probably the most relevant photo I have is of a group of light colored pearls with a much more colorful pearl. But the photo is simply too bad, totally missing its focus from the beautiful blue pearl in the group.

The Group

But life carries on and on…the next year I saw a major improvement in my health. I truly thank God for allowing me to continue walking on this beautiful blue planet of ours.

Harvest 2013 – Down Under!

The year 2013 was marked by a good harvest: large and colorful pearls with high Chroma. And that year was also marked by having some of the best pearls shipped all the way to Adelaide, Australia.

HighChroma HQ Barroques (1)

This lovely trio of pearls went to a my dear friend: Dyann Smith. And she has great taste in pearls! So, it was fitting to have these incredibly colorful pearls.

You can see some of “Raw Pearls” beautiful Cortez Pearl jewelry line if you visit their site.  I never had the chance to name the pearls…they just left so suddenly.

2014 Harvest

Last year’s harvest was the most abundant ever, reaching 5 kilos of Cortez Pearls. We also had some amazingly colorful pearls and also…who can forget the largest Cortez Cultured Pearl ever?!?!?!? Even if this large pearl was not the prettiest it was definitively out-of-the-ordinary. Here you can see “The Hulk” next to 4 smaller pearls (10, 9 and 8.5 mm) and it just looks Huge!

Perla Gigante 2014 y de 9mm

I named this pearl “the Hulk” due to its purple-green coloration and large size, but for a fleeting moment I considered the name “Barney” (yes, I believe I still suffer from the time spent watching the toddler’s TV program with my children…years go).  Decided to go all out on “The Hulk” since it just sounds more butch than “Barney”.

Specs: Baroque shaped, 17.1 mm in diameter, low luster B+ grade pearl.

Harvest 2015

Now, nearing the end of this story I can try to express some feelings I may have regarding these two posts: it has been over two decades of growing Cortez cultured pearls in the rich waters of the Gulf of California. It has been a story of both beauty and challenges so in essence it is Life itself for us.

For me each pearl harvest reminds me of certain periods of my life and I can re-live and feel the excitement of the “research days” when everything was new and we were making “pearl history”, I can also retell the pain of the “bad years” and –finally- also experience the calmness of my more “experienced years”.  Each one of these pearls in itself retells my personal story, just like a photograph reminds you of certain events and how you looked and felt like.

So, what do I want to say with this? That “Pearls are Like a Snapshot of a Person during a given moment of their Life”… Pearls are Your Personal History: the good, the bad and the experience you gain during life.  I don’t know if any other gemstone is the same, but for me this is True.

So now I finish up with the way all of this began, with a beautiful erotochromic pearl that will soon depart to its new proud owner in the United States…it has been named “Flamingo Silk” by its new owner, Nancy A.

Perla Bicolor-1

Closing Remarks

I hope you have enjoyed this walk through memory lane and I thank you for listening a bit about my personal story…using my naturally colorful Cortez Pearls as stepping stones.

Until next time.

The Best Cortez pearls of All: 1995-2007

Just a couple of days ago I published a photo of a single pearl…but not just of any kind of pearl, but rather of THE BEST PEARL OF 2015 and this beautiful bicolored pearl had a major impact amongst those that follow me on Twitter (@DouglasMcLaurin) and Facebook: in just a couple of days it was seen and shared by about 7 thousand people.

And this made me think back and remember certain pearls of previous pearl harvests that have been just as beautiful and colorful and that I call “Erotochromic”. Of course, they are always unique and different in their beauty. At that moment I told myself: “I have never reported those pearls like I have done this year and there might be more people that could find this information interesting”.

And so I told myself: I have to make a blog post to show others these very special and “erotochromic” pearls that we have been harvesting for many years. Unfortunately it was not until 2007 when I finally had a good enough digital camera to shoot photos, and this ultimately means I do not have good photos of all these amazing pearls and some simply will reside in my memory.

So here goes part 1 of these Special Erotochromic Cortez Pearl Collection.

“Pinky” – 1995

Let me start with a bit of history: back in 1995 we were already producing our first experimental cultured pearls using our “Rainbow Lip Oyster” or Pteria sterna. I had this small group of 32 oysters and I was lucky enough to produce several pearls from these and there was this particular pearl…oval shaped and just 7 mm in diameter (those days our beads were very small (5 mm). I called it “Pinky” because of its delicate violet overtone…and my particular fondness for “Pink Floyd”.

I consider this petite beauty as our 1st Gem Pearl and I am proud to be its “dad” and not having sold it. “Pinky” is being exhibited at our jewelry store & Pearl Farm in Guaymas, Sonora, Mexico and its value transcends its mere economic value: this is the 1ST GEM PEARL produced in Mexico and Latin America and –if we just consider Marine Pearls, as opposed to Freshwater pearls- “Pinky” is also the 1st CULTURED GEM GRADE PEARL GROWN IN THE AMERICAN CONTINENT.

Pinky-Pearl-1995

Harvest of 2000

Back in the day we had no idea of “christening” our pearls with a name of their own. We had –of course- heard of famous pearls that had a unique name (“La Peregrina”, “The Big Lemmon”, “Hope Pearl”, etc.) but this was an idea we had yet to fully mature into action, but we already had “Pinky” and “Bebé” (“Baby” this one I will leave for another story…a sad one) with their unique names.

That year we officially had our 1st COMMERCIAL PEARL HARVEST and it was also the year we had our “Perlas del Mar de Cortez” trademark and Logo. That year we had several amazing pearls but I remember these two:

Perlas2 Hi-Res copy

These round pearls barely exceeded 8 mm and 8.8 mm, one was violet with a dark green overtone and the other one had a fantastic dark green-blue color with golden-violet overtones. Both had excellent natural luster and were flawless…where are they today I wonder???

Harvests 2001-2003

Those were chaotic years for me and I did not have any precise records of the harvests. There is a whole story behind this but just so you understand a bit: in 2001 I left this beautiful pearl farming venture behind, said goodbye to all my friends and I started a new career in the touristic industry and then in education. Because of this I did not participate in the production nor harvests nor in certain catastrophic events such as hurricane “Marty” in 2003.

So, from the photographic records of Enrique and Manuel I was able of “rescuing” some amazingly beautiful specimens such as this oval shaped 8 mm “Gem+ NS” grade Cortez Pearl (“NS” stands for “National Selection” or you can simply translate it into another “+”, and this sub-grade is given to the most colorful –or “erotochromic” pearls), this pearl was harvested in 2003 and was taken with the help of a professional camera (you can see the size of the lens on the pearl’s reflection).

SB SelNal 8-8,4 $550 USD

The photo below shows some of the most “erotochromic” pearls of 2002:mejores del 2002

Up until this moment we did not name our best pearls systematically…and there is no obligation to do so yet. It is something that has to “feel right”.

Harvest 2004

This year was very interesting for us all: I returned to my post and became a “Founding Partner” (for the first time ever the farm was ours) and we had the help of our friend Alberto Tirado who helped shoot some professional looking  photos than those we obtained from our trusty Sony “Mavica” digital camera (it had a 3 1/4” floppy!) that took these amazing 640 x 480 pixel photos (half a Meg!) but its lenses were really good for zooming.

Here I have the best 4 pearls of the Year 2004…

G SR 4 diamante

Harvest 2005

Back then I still did not own a good enough digital camera. I had purchased an HP 2 Megapixel digital camera that took good enough outdoor photos but not on close-ups of pearls. Some of the best –and largest- pearls of this particular year appear on this photo. This year we start seeing pearls in sizes larger than 10 mm and up to 14 mm.

PMC-2005 en mano 3

Harvest 2006

I finally have a nicer camera. I still own a Cannon digital camera with 8 megapixels with a good enough zoom lens. Here I present you with the most beautiful and colorful photos of the harvest…and many are clearly “erotochromic”.

Pearls Harvest 2006 colorful BAR

What is “Erotochromia”??? Well, I basically came up with this word about a week ago when I was looking at this year’s beautiful “bi-colored” pearl. I have defined it as a “Very pleasant and Intense color with a sensuous expression”. You may say this is just non-sense (you have a right to do so) but to me this is very real: these are pearls with such beauty  that just make my eyes turn white. Photos are simply not enough to show you’re their beauty…which –after all- is totally Dynamic.

For a short moment I believe I should have called them “Chromorgasmic” but thought otherwise.

Harvest 2007

Our harvests have slowly improved with every year: with more experience comes better judgment and even some technological improvements; under the threat of climate change we have tried to adapt to a changing environment by using different aquaculture techniques and methods. Overall, the size of our pearls has increased to an average size of 9 mm(up from 8 mm), and our pearl shapes have become softer too (initially our usual shape was of BAROQUE  shapes -80%-and now we are down to 60% and our Baroques look symmetric) and the luster and skin beauty have also improved.

2007 Harvest Color Flow (4)

On the photo above we arranged the pearls in a way that you can appreciate the range of colors we obtained in 2007’s Cortez Pearl Harvest, but you can easily id the most colorful ones.

Closing Remarks: This has been a very quick recap of some of the best Cortez Pearls of for 12 years. These Special Pearls are the ones that helped us trace a route to where we want to arrive…the “goal-setters”. What was our initial passion??? It is still the same as it was years ago: To produce the most beautiful naturally colored cultured pearls in the World, pearls that will cut your breath short…

In my next post you will see more pearls that have their own names and that defined that year in pearls. I hope you have enjoyed this small stroll through our harvests, so until next time Smile

Our Newest Cortez Pearl Jewelry 2015

This has been a very good year for our Cortez Pearl Jewelry store. Not only do we still have the majority of our excellent jewelry designers but we now have even more talented people working on jewelry pieces that I am are sure will light you up!

So, I want to take a bit of time to present you to these new designers. Many of these items are already available at our e-Store, so I also invite you to view additional photos and information –including price- right there. Please don’t say that I did not give you enough time to see these pieces: just yesterday we sold 2 of these!They sell fast.

Cortez Premium Jewelry Line

This new design line is lovingly designed and hand-crafted, with special intent on detailing. Crafted in solid 14K Palladium-Gold in a perfect mix that will ensure that your jewelry will keep its beautiful white color forever (unlike items that just have a coating). This Premium line also incorporates diamonds –on some items- and most importantly: GEM GRADE Cortez Pearls.

This is an entirely CLASSIC line of jewelry, with long-lasting VALUE since its style is not reminiscent of a time or epoch and will outlast any fashion style constraint. If you are looking to handing down an heirloom piece of jewelry in your family, the Premium line will be something that you will find at our e-Store and jewelry store in Guaymas.

Fabra Designs

We are happy to announce that we have a new designer from the State of Zacatecas, a state that has been known for its silversmiths. The items are very modern and just PERFECT for the taste of modern men and women.

The jewelry is made using pure 0.925 Silver and leather (in some instances), they are solid and substantial, with an elegant, modern and minimalist design.

Elegant Filigree by Eva Souto

Eva Souto has provided us with the most beautiful and dainty filigree pieces we have ever seen. Her 0.925 Sterling Silver jewelry designs have a touch that combines modernity and tradition, which in a way is something very Mexican: it keeps up with the best of our heritage but that it also takes leaps towards modernity.

It is an absolute PLEASURE to examine the delicate and elaborate hand-work of Eva’s silversmiths, and then combined with our colorful Cortez keshi and cultured pearls…they just unravel into a very exclusive line of jewelry that you will not be able to find just everywhere else.

My next blog entry will have more information about the new designs from Carlos Cabral, Alejandra, Tania María and Kathe Mai, so stay tuned!

Have a great week!

7th Annual Pearl Ruckus Report

Yes! I can hardly believe it has been 7 incredible years of Pearl Ruckuses, and each year they get better and better. But, what is a “Pearl Ruckus”??? Basically put it is a special gathering of friends, pearl collectors, pearl buyers & resellers, designers and pearl farmers…but in the end it is really a gathering of pearl lovers in a fantastic Mansion-like setting.

Pearl Mansion

You may remember some of my previous Pearl Ruckus series of blog entries before, but in case you haven’t I do have to emphasize that this very special gathering is the result of the work done at the Pearl-Guide.com website, basically the World’s Largest Pearl Information Source, and this site is a labor of love of many people that LOVE pearls, including: Jeremy and Hisano Shepherd of PearlParadise.com fame, Caitlin Williams (Caitlin) and Blaire Beavers (GemGeek) (as the site’s admins) and of Newberry, Pattye, Mikkey and many more brave pearlers that share and spread the Pearly Gospel Winking smile

So, here are my 3 HIGHLIGHTS for this Year’s Ruckus and #1 is actually very, very easy:

#1. Little h Video

Jeremy and the team at PearlParadise.com created a short video of Hisano sharing her inspiration and design process for her little h, Pearl Geode and Finestrino collections. It is a delightful video and the jewelry pieces are some of my favorites!

#2. Kojima Pearl’s Amazing Cortez Mabe Pearl Necklace

Stunning. I obviously prefer my pearls above all others (but if you follow this blog you know I am also a fan of Kamoka and Kasumigaura pearls)…last year we came up with a pair of beautiful Mabe Pearl necklaces set in Sterling Silver that were all the rage (one of them is owned by U.S. Senator Gabrielle Giffords) but this year I did not have anything similar to offer…but what a pleasant surprise when Sarah and Mounir came up with this AMAZING Cortez mabe pearl necklace…simply stunning!

KojimaNecklace

Sarah and Mounir have become an amazing designing team…just ready to rock the pearl world! For more information you can head to Kojima Pearl’s website.

#3. The Pearl People

The Pearl Ruckus is ultimately about PEARLS…but without PEOPLE to admire, love and wear pearls we have nothing! So in the end it is all about People that Love Pearls.

And at the Mansion we spend almost an entire weekend immersed in pearls, pearl jewelry, incredible food, music and making friends. If you ever feel like you could become a “Pearl Ruckrusader” (just made up this word) please join us at the Pearl-Guide.com forum and start meeting the people! Maybe next year you can join us too! Open-mouthed smile

Collage-Ruckus

And besides the friends, the talks, the music and the food –and everything surrounded by pearls of course- there were many other interesting things including the “Pearl Talks”:

Josh y CelesteJosh Humbert of Kamoka Pearls gave us a great slideshow presentation. Josh is not only an extraordinaire pearl farmer but also a most accomplished NatGeo photographer. Wish I could share the photos here…but they are his to share so if you want to see some of his work just contact him via Tweeter at @KamokaJosh.

Here we have Josh and his life-mate Celeste Brash. Good friends of mine.

BlaireBlaire Beavers gave a great talk and walk through memory lane…first by reminding all how the name for this event was coined…yes, my good friend Michael Rivers came up with this inventive name and it sure has stuck. All 6 previous events were considered…so many years, so many great moments! We had to laugh and smile at the photos of the pearl tiara wearing comrades and the retelling of the “Purloined Pearls” story, or draw our breath inwards at the wholesome beauty of many beautiful pearl necklaces and jewelry pieces.

SelfieDouglas McLaurin (that’s me!) also gave a short talk on Cortez Pearls…this year I tried a less serious approach and resorted to much more humor than before. I don’t know if the audience agreed with me but I hope they had as much fun listening to my “La Peregrina” pearl section as much as  I had making it.

I also took a bit of time to talk about this year’s Cortez Pearl Harvest: it was not as good as last year’s (every year results in a different harvest due to environmental conditions, as you would also expect for wine, cheeses, grains, etc.) but it was a very good one nonetheless. We harvested almost 4 kilos of Cortez Pearls (roughly 4,000 pearls) in sizes between 8 and 13 mm, the average size for this year being 9 mm. The pearls were also rounder than any other previous harvest and very lustrous, with a better “skin” (less flaws and imperfections) but the colors –for my personal taste- were less intense.

Cosecha 2015

If I had a way to describe the overall look of this year’s harvest it would be: Silvery Gray with Blue Overtones. There were –of course- the traditional stunners…but I missed finding Red and Blue pearls, there were more coppery-golden ones this year too.

Jewelry Highlights

Oh yes! My good friends had Pearl Jewelry on everyday and would change their jewelry based on clothing, mood or even environmental conditions Smile Such a fun crowd to be with. Here are some of the highlights:

A very beautiful Cortez Mabe Pearl pendant in Gold with Rubies (owner: Rhonda).

Cortez Mabe Pendant Rhonda

Another beautiful & stylish piece in gold with Cortez Cultured pearl and many Cortez Keshi pearls, designed by Sarah & Mounir at Kojima Pearl. (Owner: Catherine).

Keshi Cortez Sarah Design

Another favorite of mine are Hisano’s amazing Geode Pearl jewelry…just stunning, and the colors are just to vibrant!

Pearl Geodes 2

And there are many, many more stunning pieces but I just did not have the time nor adequate light to shoot all those pics I should have had!  But I will close up this entry with just one more photo and description…

My friend Sheri Jurnecka has come up with a dazzling array of uniquely shaped squiggly octo-jewerly designs and she has used all types of pearls on them: blacks, golden, freshwater and Cortez Pearls of course. Hope you enjoy this beautiful cephalopod family photo!

Pearl Ruckus 2015 (115)

Until next time…Cheers!!!

The Weirdest & Funniest Pearl Farm in the World

And this is basically the way we were designated by National Geographic in their “World’s Weirdest” TV Series, under the “Funniest Farms” banner. The program aired back in February 14th of 2014 in NatGeo’s TV network but we were totally oblivious since the program has not been dubbed nor sub-titled and has never aired in Spanish speaking countries. So we just kind of forgot that we had been visited by Nick Patterson and Pete Allibone of WAG.TV productions back in December of 2012 to film our pearl farming operation (you can go back an read all about it here), but then about a month ago we heard from some of our visitors that they had seen the episode where our farm was featured!

NatGeo's World's Funniest

I started looking for the program and almost immediately hit a wall: not available in YouTube and when I found it in both Amazon’s video service and on Xbox Video I was really happy! until I noticed it would not allow me to buy it because it is not available in “My Region” (whatever this means while on the Internet). This was a total let down…so I got in contact with good old Nick (who was placidly tanning himself somewhere in the Caribbean) and he sent me a link to watch the whole show. Finally, after only 18 months, we could finally see the end product of that long and interesting work day with these absolute TV professionals. The results were amazing.

Since I cannot share the entire video for obvious reasons, I decided to make a very short (40 seconds) video of the episode on the pearl farm. It obviously lacks everything but gives you an idea of what to expect, so I do hope you will enjoy watching it.

Personal Thoughts

I really enjoyed the show. Found it has a disturbingly interesting way to entertain, amuse and befuddle you with words like “feces”, “testicles” or witty comments such as “…if the oyster dies, I can always eat it!” when I was operating an oyster. But above these…the imagery: Pete had a great chance to film that day when they visited us. A cold-front was coming in and we had a major fog-bank in the bay, which led to one of the best and most beautiful time-lapses I have seen of this area. Simply stunning.

The end result was entirely eclectic: a mixture of seriousness and humor, of marvelous photography of Bacochibampo Bay amidst the fog and of the pearl seeding operation, of the pearl farm and of the pearl harvest. Basically: the whole enchilada.

It was truly a very professional job and we are very grateful to Nick, Pete, the crew at WAG.TV and NatGeo for their visit and for showing the world our curiously weird and little pearl farm in the Sea of Cortez.

Do you want to know our Pearl Farm??? What are you waiting for!!! Guaymas and San Carlos are a marvelous place to vacation and you can also visit one of the World’s Funniest and Weirdest Pearl Farms in the World…right here in Sonora, Mexico.

Bacochibampo con Neblina (7)

Unusual Vampire Mabe Blisters

 

Whoa! This year we have a very special group of out-of-the-ordinary Cortez Blister Pearls…why are these so Special??? Well, let me explain:

  1. Many of these are BIG! As you are well aware our “Rainbow Lip Pearl Oyster” (Pteria sterna) is NOT a Big oyster, more of a mid-sized animal…just between the large “black/silver/gold lips” (Pinctada margaritifera & Pinctada maxima) and the smaller “Akoya Pearl Oyster” (Pinctada imbricata=fucata). The average size of our Cortez Mabe Pearls is 14 mm in diameter.
  2. These Cortez Mabe are VERY BAROQUE, or beyond baroque or simply put: Naturally Shaped. Our Mabe Pearls are never identical and are mostly free-form but leaning towards oval and teardrop shapes.
  3. Their RARITY: this group is very unusual and rare…just 21 pearls out of a harvest of over 2 thousand that we harvested in 2014. Yes, basically just 1.05% of last year’s harvest!
  4. Their ORIGIN: now, this is the final nail in the coffer in a manner of speaking! Why, because this group is basically made up of 100% Natural Blister Pearls that have –for the first time- been processed into Mabe.

Are these really Natural????

Yes. And there is a special story to these. Let me tell you this story.

Back in 2012, when we were seeding our pearl oysters we started to notice something odd in them…snails. There were hundreds of these snails we had never seen before. There were so many that we found them with the oysters and we started noticing some INSIDE of the Rainbow Lips too!

Caracol Adulto que creemos esta metiendose en Pteria sterna (1)

At that same time we received a group of Malacologists from Florida and we told them about this issue, they kept some specimens and headed back. Manuel and I started looking for the name of this unknown snail and we came up with the same name, later we received confirmation from Florida: Vitularia salebrosa, an ecto-parasitic snail of the Murex family. This blew my mind!

I had never seen such a variety of snail before and I had never seen how they actually found their way inside the oyster’s shell to suck its blood like an armored leech (yes, they suck the blood of its host), you can actually read all about it in this scientifically detailed article.

Well, the oysters don’t have their “Vampire Hunters” but instead they use the millennia old trick they know all too well: if it harms you, turn it into something beautiful…just make a Pearl!

But at the moment I was looking at these snails I just wanted to know more about them, and because of this I just left the snails inside the oysters allowing Nature to follow its course. And Nature did its thing.

We collected and photographed some of these nails, we found them in all colors and sizes. That year was the year of the Vampire Snail.

Caracol, snail, Vitularia salebrosa 044

We find them rarely these days. Must have been one of those “weird natural cycles” that Nature usually surprises us with. Unfortunately I can’t seem to find the photos I took of these snails as they were being coated with protein by the oyster. I kept one shell with its snail, but dehydration has pretty much damaged the shell.

Vitularia salebrosa in Pteria sterna shell (1)

Vitularia salebrosa in Pteria sterna shell (2)

This is the first time ever such an event has been described with these species of mollusks.

Another very interesting and noticeable feature is what I would call “Health”. Sick or unhappy oysters usually have a very dull shell, whereas “happy” or healthy oysters display beautiful colors. The oyster shell with the parasitic snail looks quite unhappy.

Shell comparisson

So, now you finally understand why these pearls are all so Special and Unique. In a way they tell us a unique story of how we can all withstand pain, endure and ultimately create something beautiful from it.

If oysters can do it, so can we do it. It is your choice to create your own glorious pearl.

WP_20150601_11_26_57_Raw

On Sale Soon!

These pearls will soon become available for purchase in our e-Sales website, but you can also write to secure your own! Remember we only have 21 of these ready for you to set them in Jewelry and enjoy Nature’s perplexing beauty.

P.S.: I hope you don’t write in to tell me that “Pearls are produced by a Grain of Sand”. I finally have overcome my anxiety towards this myth and won’t go into a fit 😉

Cheers!!!

Our Pearl Farm is becoming more Known

OK. Tried my best to do a play-of-words with the title (have I failed miserably???) and the contents of this entry. This is all about the recent visit of the crew of Mexican Magazine “México Desconocido” (it would translate into “Unknown Mexico”) to our pearl farm just last week! (May 22nd).

If you follow our Blog you may have heard that we appeared in this magazine in a full-fledged article back in the year 2007. The article was called “Sowing Pearls and Dreams in Guaymas” (lovely title, unfortunately not translated into English but you may use a translator to achieve a minimum degree of information). The article was really well written and had some really good photos. We are very thankful to Mexico Desconocido for this chance to appear before their audience.

The photos I mention do not appear in the on-line version of the article so I prepared this small collage of the article that will give you a better insight.

 

This year, Mexico Desconocido has returned to Guaymas and decided to re-visit us. On this occasion we are not going to be featured in a unique article but instead we will become a part of an article about Guaymas-San Carlos, showcasing our local beauties and attractions…the pearl farm is –of course- a major attraction in the area.

So our own Manuel Nava took the reigns and received our friend Mariel Rivera –she is the head of the local visitor’s center in San Carlos- and two young reporters from this magazine so they could visit our Pearl Farm in style…they even had a boat ride to the farm.

Finally, they had the chance of seeing the end product: thousands of colorful cultured and Mabe pearls! Mariel even tried on some of our amazing new jewelry designs made 100% in Mexico (pearl, silver, design and workmanship).

So, now that you have seen that “Unknown Mexico” knows about us…What are you waiting to come and visit and know more about the farm and its pearls???

I mean…specially if you are in the vicinity, the next closest commercial Pearl Farm (by this I mean a REAL pearl farm and not a tourist trap) is located in Fiji, some 10,000 kilometers (6,000 miles) away from us!!!

Guaymas is much closer (unless you are not of course and you are reading this blog in Fiji itself) and we do have these great places to eat, beautiful beaches and sunsets, stunning desert views and diving and fishing enough to satiate your desires…and did I mention… PEARLS????? Yes, we have them too.

So, just come on over and enjoy our hospitality! Hope to see you down here at the farm soon.

Learn more about Pearls, Oysters and the Environment