The 2015 Tucson Gem Show part 2 – Final comments

Amazing. We are are almost about to start with the month of May and I am about to write about things that happened way back in February. Goes to show how tight a schedule I have.

But here I am again sharing my thought and comments, hoping some of these things will be of help and interest to you all. So, let me know start with the JEWELRY, a most pleasant subject.

This year we were pleasantly surprised by our many talented friends. Kathe of TriGem Designs, Alejandra of Alejandra and Sarah of Kojima Pearl have been busy producing some of the most beautiful Cortez Pearl jewelry designs we have been able to see these last years. Gold, silver, gemstones and Cortez Pearls are all combined to produce wearable beauty to please the beautiful women that grace our fair Earth. Let me show you some of the beautiful pieces we saw in Tucson this 2015 and some that even made it all the way to our Cortez Pearl Jewelry store in Guaymas (and that you may also see in our eStore).

Kathe Mai of  TriGem Designs

Kathe’s jewelry designs may be easily explained with just one word: Timeless. These are classic pieces that could have been worn 100 years ago, but also worn today and will be worn 100 years from now. Simply put: these are jewelry designs that will not suffer from the ravages of “fashion statements”. You may agree or disagree with me…but I believe you will agree these are beautiful pieces, and all of their accompanying stones are Fair Trade Gems as usual.

Another great thing about her jewelry is that it feels equally at home being worn with a fancy night dress or with just normal day wear such as jeans. My personal favorites are the 14K Rosé Gold with Cortez Mabe and Nyala Rubi piece and the 18K Yellow gold Cortez Mabe piece that has little moveable gold waves…reminds me of a jellyfish.

Joyeria-de-TriGem-Designs-2

This year Kathe came out with more Cortez Mabe Pearl jewelry designs and she is also busy preparing a new line of jewelry for this year…a special line that we will not disclose until it is ready. Expect something special later this year!

 

Alejandra Solomone of Alejandra Jewels

Alejandra has a hectic and contrasting life: she moves and feels equally at home in the great city of New York and her mother’s ranch in the Sierra Madre in Mexico. Quite a contrast! She is both a sophisticate cosmopolitan woman and a horse mounted Amazon and her jewelry also defies our imagination with its colorful designs.

This year she incorporated even more colors in her new designs –all of them available at our eStore and here in Guaymas- with the help of beautiful Mexican Fire Opals, Granates, Sapphires and Diamonds. This year she worked wonders on our Cortez Pearls, Mabe and Keshi.

Joyería-Alejandra-2015

Yesterday we were preparing our first ever TV commercial (to air on State television here in Sonora and in TV Azteca Arizona) and Rocío chose a pair of beautiful earrings by Alejandra for this special occasion. I believe you can agree they look stunning.

 

Sarah Cannizaro of Kojima Pearl Co

Our dear friend Sarah is increasing her Cortez Pearl inventories and she has been coming up with many special requests by pearl connoisseurs…her recent designs also incorporate the inspiration of her husband Mounir. You can see his vision on the pair of Mabe Pearl earrings, a great contrast with the violet stones and the Cortez mabe pearls.

I expect to see many more great designs from Sarah and Mounir in the years to come. You can find more of Sarah and Mounir’s jewelry at the Kojima website…and they also carry a great selection of Kamoka Pearls -from our friends Josh and Celeste- and have exclusive Kasumiga pearls as well, so you can’t really go wrong with Kojima if you intend to find that “special pearl” that we all are looking for.

Sarah-joyeria-2015

And that is that in the case of Cortez Pearl Jewelry at this year’s edition of the Tucson Gem Show. For now I will shift gears into two very different subjects: Great Food & Great friends and Mexican Fire Opals.

 

Mexican Fire Opals by Opalos & Artesanias Mexicanas

I love pearls above all gemstones. In a close second place I have Opals, followed by Emeralds and Amber. I am not that fond of the shiny, glittering stones…but Fire Opals are special to me, they can also have such varied looks! I mean: some can look glacial white, others are a flaming orange, then bright Yellows and even a soft soapy pink! You would think you are talking about different stones but no, these are the Opals of Mexico and our friend Luciano Tamayo and his family are the owners of the best mine in Jalisco. They have taken the art of Opal processing to a new level and offer them in very conceivable shape, size and colors…from minimalistic rough-cut opals to perfect cut opals and everything in between like the baroque shaped opals that Alejandra used in her Cortez Keshi and Opal earrings.

Opals

Our friend Luciano and his family are always ready to take care of your special Opal needs at the Tucson Gem Show (same tent as we are, the GJX just across from the Tucson Convention Center) and you can contact them via e-mail too.

 

Great Dinners with Great Friends

I believe the Pearl Industry is special and different from all others. Over the years you end up making great friends, all sharing this common passion for pearls and jewelry. This year we had our nights filled with laughs, merry drinks and great food…but it is the friends we join the ones that actually make it a special moment. Thank you all for your friendship, for being gracious hosts and for sharing your love and knowledge of pearls (and Spirits!) with us.

Dinner-Friends

And with these last words I bid you all a Great Spring!

The Tucson Gem Show, part 1

February 4th, 2015: Here I am reporting from Tucson, Arizona, in what is considered the largest international gems & mineral show, a city that becomes a haven for precious gems, semi-precious stones, fossils and all kinds of jewelry in the world. This year -and every year since 1995- we are displaying our exclusive and unique Cortez Pearls, and every year I try make a small report about the people, companies, products or events that drew my attention,and this year is no exception.

But before I begin with a general report of 2015’s Tucson Gem Show I want to start with a very quick report about our Cortez Pearls production. I will begin with the information about our 2014 Pearl harvest.

The 2014 Cortez Pearl Harvest

The year 2014 will go down in the annals of our history as a bittersweet year: we had the best pearl harvest in our history: after more than 15 years of commercial pearl production, we finally reached the goal of the 4 kilos of Cortez Pearls (this means just around 4,000 pearls). But despite the very good news, we also had problems with the environment (global warming) and this resulted in a very high mortality in the group of oysters that will allow us to produce pearls in the year 2016. Because of this reason, we have had this bittersweet situation.

Some of the novelties of 2014 and that we are showing here at the Tucson Gem Show are these:

We have a new variety of Cortez Mabe Pearl on sale: we call it the “Mini-Mabe”, these are Mabe pearls that have a lower dome height and a smaller diameter (this means, much smaller than traditional Cortez Mabe), but this gives them a lower value of investment and -in addition- it also allows the jeweler or designer to use less metal to produce jewelry items that are more affordable for the end user. These pearls have been used by our Australian distributor (Raw Pearls of Adelaide) with great success, and these lovely little Mabe have caused a great impact at the Gem Show and are all but almost exhausted.

“Raw Pearls” – Turtle Pendant w/CortezMini Mabe

News

For this show’s gems have been exhibiting the Cortez Pearls of the 2014 harvest (the 2015 harvest will take place in the middle of this year) and among the most important items I have to mention is the beautifully unique 2014 Cortez Pearl necklace. This beautiful necklace consists of 43 cultured pearls from the Gulf of California, all the pearls were produced by our exclusive “Rainbow Lip Pearl Oyster” (Pteria sterna) and was made with pearls of at least 6 different yearly harvests. This multicolor, graduated necklace is made with pearls that measure between 8.3 mm and 10.6 mm, with the central Pearl -an incredible dark purple-red Cortez Pearl- measuring 11.3 mm. What else can I tell you about this beautiful necklace? It is an extremely rare piece, this would be the 11th Special Cortez Pearl Necklace that we have produced with this finesse and quality… and it’s a uniquely special piece, the owner will even have the right to Christen it with a unique name and this name will be linked to the necklace for generations to come.

Cortez Pearl Necklace 2014

Among the pearls that came to Tucson, we have the large Cortez Blister Mabe Pearls, which this past year were more abundant than in other years, but that ultimately are a little more than 100 pearls… these pearls have beautiful colors and larger sizes (reaching up to 5 cm/2” in diameter), and are perfect for producing pieces of jewelry with a high visual impact.

Cortez Mabe Blister

In general this year’s gem show had a special flavor to it, something which I had not felt in many recent years and that I can only describe in a single word: enthusiasm.

This enthusiastic atmosphere seemed widespread amongst buyers and most of the sellers, and I believe this optimism may be due to the recovery or improvement of the United States economy (although customers from Canada and other oil exporting countries were not in the same spirit). Let us hope that this spirit will also translate into an overall growth of the international jewelry industry.

Note: The information you have read up to the previous paragraph was written while at the Tucson Gem & Mineral Show, but as of this moment the report was written on February 11th. There was simply too much work at our booth and I could not continue with a “live and direct” report.

Elisabeth Strack’s Pearl Presentation (AGTA)

The AGTA carries out seminars and lectures by expert gemologists, designers and industry analysts every year. This year was no exception and we were lucky to go to the presentation of one of the foremost authorities in the world of pearls: German Gemologist Dr. Elisabeth Strack, author of what many (myself included) consider to be the Pearl Bible: “Perlen“.

The presentation took place on February 4th at the Tucson Convention Centre and  Dr. Strack spoke mainly about three issues:

1) the “new wave” of natural pearls, mainly made up of non-conventional species (non-nacreous pearls from snails, clams and even the Nautilus) and

2) a review of some pearl innovations, such as the RFID enabled Pearls and the “Provoked Baroques” as well as a redefinition of freshwater pearls based on their production system (Note: if interested, my friend Caitlin Williams wrote an amazing article on the Evolution of the Freshwater Pearl on the PearlsOfJoy.com website. I recommend Caitlin’s article wholeheartedly).

3) the Natural Pearl Market: Something that seems very important to stress is that Dr. Strack explained that the way in which you can assign a monetary value to a natural  pearl no longer obeys the “old pricing rules” which seemed to function for centuries; she basically states that today the value of a pearl is just a “thing of the market”, where the price of the pearl basically depends on what a customer is willing to pay for it. Wow.

She mentioned the famous that the once popular pearl pricing “Rule of Tavernier”, named in honor of Jean Baptiste Tavernier (a great Explorer and French merchant of the 17th century who discovered the famous “Tavernier Blue” diamond) is no longer the “rule of thumb” for natural pearl pricing. This rule basically consists of a system based upon two factors and their interaction:

  • The “Size Factor“: basically the weight of a Pearl is obtained in grains (a grain being equal to 64.79891 milligrams) and this value is then multiplied by itself. Thus, if a Pearl weighs 4 grains its size factor value will be equal to (4 x 4 =) 16.
  • The “Multiplier Factor” or of Quality/Beauty: Tavernier established a range between 0.5 and 30 as a possible value for the pearl’s quality or beauty.  Pearls of little or no beauty will be valued between 0.5 and 3, while the more “normal” pearls fall within the range of 15 to 20, and exceptionally beautiful pearls -the so called “gems”- will fall within the range between 25 to 30. Once you select the appropriate number you proceed to…
  • Multiply the Factors: take the resulting number of “Size Factor” (SF) and that of the “Multiplier Factor” (MF) and multiply them. In an example, lets us say that we have two pearls, one being very beautiful (MF = 30) and a far less graceful one (MF = 0.5); if both weigh the same (8 grains, SF = 16) then we have that the price of the gem pearl will be $480 and the less graceful one will be worth just a mere $8.

And in what currency is the value of the Pearls set in the examples above? In US dollars according to Strack (for more information, you can consult Elisabeth Strack’s book “Pearls” on pages 297 and 298). I assume that there was another currency in use in the times of Monsieur Tavernier, very probably the most international currency of the day was the “Mexican Peso” (also known as “Real Español”), but Dr. Strack found a way to upgrade its outdated value to a 2006 equivalent (date of the publication of her book). We are fortunate to have it so easy.

But again, for Elisabeth Strack, the price of natural pearls today is completely out of all rules and simply depends on the “market”.

An example she provided with a pair of natural Pteria sterna pearls, the same oyster that we use to produce our beautiful Cortez Pearls, is revealing. In this example, she had the photo of two tear-drop shaped pearls, one of weighing 10.15 ct (carats) and the other one at 1345 ct; these were sold to a final price of $2,600 to $26,390 USD USD/ct…equivalent to some by smaller Pearl and $34,970 USD by the greater size.

Having used the rule of Tevernier, the value of these same pearls would be a little different (I’ll use a 15 FM as an example):

  • 10.15 ct = mg = 31.33 2,030 grains then 31.33 x 31.33 x 15 = $14,723 USD
  • 1345 ct = mg = 41.51 2.690 grains then 41.51 x 41.51 x 15 = $25,846 USD

In this case the price could be very different, since I don’t have the actual MF value assigned to these pearls, but changing this value would obviously make a huge difference.

It’s really rare to find pearls like those in the example above, so if you do find a natural pearl… first you should consider its size/weight and then its beauty. Please do not become too emotional with the price and then do consult with an expert in this field before you actually tell your boss you quit and will move next to your favorite movie star’s house.

It is very important that you know and understand this: these prices are the end customers pay. What I mean by this? That these would be the prices that people pay as Bill Gates, Carlos Slim, Paul Allen, Mark Zuckberg, etc… and not are prices that could pay the intermediaries, which are those who buy these pearls and can offer them to another intermediary (the famous Jewelers like Tiffany, Cartier, Harry Winston, etc.) who is who ends up offering these gems to moguls. The only way in which you could access these prices is you go directly to the final customer… it would be good to know them and they you know you so you open up the doors.

At the moment it is the information that I am going to share this great annual event in Arizona, but next week I will continue with additional information about the event. I hope that the information is of utility and interest and here my kind readers I’ll be sharing my expert advice with you.

The Times they are a’changing

Hello again and this time I am very happy to share the news with you all: The times they are a’changing! Never did the lyrics of Bob Dylan have so much meaning for me as they do now. Why??? Because after a couple of years having many problems here at our Pearl farm it seems as if we are finally coming out of the tunnel and we are ready to start a new era of growth and prosperity.

We have many new projects heading your way, including some that are not necessarily Huge, but important nonetheless and that I want to let you know about including:

The Internet of Pearls

Longhi Pendant with Baroque Cortez Pearl
Longhi Pendant with Baroque Cortez Pearl

An Improved Internet presence: Our main website has been revamped with new technology to take advantage of the new “mobile era”, so you will notice that its graphics now work perfectly with all smartphones, tablets and PCs. You might notice some problems with the graphics if you use my favorite browser (Internet Explorer) but I will iron many of the glitches in the following months. I hope you enjoy the new look of our website.

Another change will take place in our Cortez Pearl Blog (will also add the same mobile features) and our twitter and Facebook accounts will practically come back to life in full color too! I am very happy to welcome Daniel Duarte into our workforce as Manager of Internet Sales and Social Media. He has an innate ability with technology, he’s very articulate in both English and Spanish, he is also an excellent photographer and I am sure he will do an excellent job to supply you all with the news and photos I never had the time to share with you. He will also assist me in some of the new projects, such as the “New and Improved” Cortez Pearl Sales Site. One of the things we will change is the name of the site, to make it more meaningful: from “Perlas Shop” it will become “Cortez Pearl” and will have many new features, including a bilingual setting (Spanish and English), will allow payment in your local coin and have a complete mobile experience. We will also have a much improved selection of Cortez Pearl jewelry for you…but in the meantime, if you visit our “old site” www.perlasshop.com will have a much better selection of goods, including many new jewelry styles being added daily for your purchasing pleasure 😉

Mobile Sales Stores

Since the year 2000 we have been considered the most important private touristic attraction in Guaymas, having well over 100,000 visitors from over 20 countries. The pearl farm is also a choice attraction for large groups of students and international visitors that visit the area with tour buses and cruise ships. One would think that all visitors will feel attracted to the Pearl Farm Tour, but some just can’t seem to make it to the farm.

For this select group of people we have come up with a mobile solution too: we will go to you. So we are setting up shop in certain local hotels during certain weekends: Hotel Playas de Cortés, Marinaterra and San Carlos Plaza. Here we will offer their guests with information about our pearl farm, what makes our pearls uniquely different and also some select Cortez pearl jewelry items.

Mobile Sales
Mobile Sales

A New & Improved Pearl Farm Tour

For next year I plan on having a new and improved pearl farm tour. It will be shorter at 30 minutes than the usual tour we have now (50 minutes) but it will become a hands-on experience too: the idea is that you will be able to touch and see more, become more involved with the activities and even have a guided tour underwater, so you can experience the serene beauty of the pearl farm: a place filled with Life.

We will keep you informed of the new pearl farm by the end of this seeding season, but I am confident our visitors will be very pleased and thrilled with some of these new activities.

So, what do you think of all these changes? Are we missing something you would like to have or see? Please drop by our new sites and give us a new try this Holiday Season!!!

Thank you all for your support this challenging year of 2014 and I hope I will be able to have a new post out before the year’s end.

Diving at the Farm

 We seem to have survived quite unscathed from th…

 We seem to have survived quite unscathed from this year’s hurricane season. Only “Odile” caused some damage at the farm: thankfully we were just “kissed” with a bit of rain but we did experience some strong winds that brought us some good height waves (reports of up to 6 meters/19 feet in our area). The damage to the farm was minimal, but the waves battered down and collapsed the main access to our work area (the “palapa”) and we are not going to be able to offer any guided pearl farm tours until it is fully repaired, hoping we will be ready by the end of October.

On the opposite side of the Gulf of California: La Paz, Cabo San Lucas and other communities experienced significant damage to homes, hotels and shops, as well as on the roads, electrical infrastructure and drinking water supply. We send our sincere wishes of speedy recovery to our brothers and sisters in Lower California.

And here is where it all ends for most people: in the material and human damages. But I think that most people forget yet another innocent victim of these devastating forces: our Biodiversity.

This past October 16 – right after the passage of “Odile” in our area – I went for a walk at the beach just in front of Hotel Marinaterra’s “Beach Club” in nearby San Carlos; this little beach has a beautiful cove formerly known as “Shangri-La”. The cove has many rocky reefs, a sand-and-pebble rock beach and a beautiful island coveered with giant cactii. I have loved this place since the first time I visited it in 1988 and it always has had an interesting fauna and it is a good place to practice some snorkeling. It pained me to see it this way…

Damage

The first thing that one can appreciate are several large garbage heaps, mainly consisiting of PET (soft drink) plastic bottles and house-hold cleaning containers, all kinds of plastic bag products, footwear (including tennis, shoes and flip flops), car tires, pieces of PVC pipe, pieces of home appliances (TVs, radios, VCRs, etc.).. I even was lucky enough to find a couple of audio tapes! (years without seeing one), assorted garments and accessories (underwear, sunglasses, caps, etc.). And this without considering all the contaminating elements that we can not see, as they would be all kinds of chemicals such as oil derivatives and of cleaning products.

It is really sad to see this display and know that this happens partly because waves are able of destroying whatever they find in front of them, but mainly because rainwater drags all this garbage into the sea. Our sea and our beaches have become an unofficial “Trash Can”.

After watching the huge quantities of garbage I moved on to find some of the innocent victims of this natural phenomenon: Marine Life. Sadly I discovered dozens of different groups of animals, all of them dead. The most easily recognized ones are the fish; I saw moray eels, seahorses, stingrays, puffers, cardinalfish, snappers and croackers. Sad images, but there were even larger quantities of dead invertebrates.

Fan Corals

These typical corals from the sea of Cortez are fished out to satisfy the tourist’s need for a souvenir (please don’t buy these corals, you will encourage their fishery…instead, find them on the beach). These invertegrates are few in numbers and take many years to grow. These primitive animals resemble the old-style “hand-fans” and that is the reason for their common name. That sad day I found hundreds of these corals on the beach, from at least 4 different species, but the most abundant species were: the “Purple coral” and “fire coral”, the latter is one of the most beautiful in our Gulf. And along with these corals I found yet another hapless victim: the “Rainbow Lipped pearl oyster”, which is the species that we grow in our pearl farm here in Guaymas.

Local fishermen know that this species of pearl oyster is commonly found attached on top of these corals, and that is the reason why they have given this species the name of “tree scallop”. Among the corals which I collected on the beach, I found some 15 small rainbow lipped oysters.

Molluscs

Thousands of mollusks died on this beach. I found dozens of different snail species such as Cone shells (Conus), turban snails (Turbo), Conchs (Strombus), and even several varieties of bivalves such as: mussels, clams, scallops and ark shells and black-lipped oysters. Their hard shells had been shattered against rocks when they were ripped from their habitats and then crashed and beaten against the reefs or rocks in the strong surge of waves. Some animals were still alive –but very weak- but most had their shells cracked and shattered. The animals that seemed to have a better survival rate were the Black lip pearl oysters, most of them only had a seemingly polished external shell. However, most seemed damaged beyond any salvation. I did not find a single Octopus, so I assume these critters are quite adept at escaping the wrath of the waves.

The Echinodermata

This is yet another group that suffered great losses… mainly among the starfishes and sea cucumbers. I did not find a single sea urchin, sand dollar nor sea biscuit, but this may only mean that the fragile shells of these organisms were “pulverized” in the violent waves. I collected dozens of starfishes of at least 3 different species on this beach, but the beach was covered by hundreds of these. The Sea cucumbers I found were from an uncommon variety, which is found buried in the sand.

Worms

Most people do not feel any love for marine worms: they are not “nice looking” and some are frankly aggressive and may cause pain. If this group of animals I saw at least 3 different species: several specimens of “fire worms“, a variety of “polychaete worm” that has thousands of cirrii or spines which can deliver an excruciatingly painful toxin to whomever dares touch them. However the most numerous group was that of the sipunculids (“peanut worms”), worms that are found buried in the sand. Some of the worms measured up to 40-50 cm/16-20” long.

Many people will not think much of these innocent victims, because they are not cuddly, don’t have big bright eyes or colorful feather or fluffy fur… but for me all these animals are valuable and “beautiful” in their own way; these creatures fulfill important roles in our ecosystems and make it possible for the perfect functioning of the Gulf of California. If we have any self-esteem, then there is a chance that we will also be able to harbor love for our sea and its creatures… we can demonstrate this love by making a real effort to avoid polluting our seas and beaches, so we do not have them become a “watery landfill”, and we can also do whatever is in our hands to protect these animals directly.

I was recently at a seminar and we had a couple of spectacular speakers there. Almost at the end of the event they told us a story – it could have been real or fictitious, but this is not important – which I would now like to share with you all:

After a stormy night, a man started walking along the beach the very next morning. As the Sun was coming out he discovered that the beach was litered with thousands of Starfish, which at that moment would begin to die from desiccation. He continued walking until he found a youngster who was busy picking up these invertebrates and returning them to the sea. There were thousands upon thousands of starfish, so this effort seemed futile.

The man approached the boy and told him: “Boy, don’t you see that what you are doing does not make any difference? They are miles and miles of beach and hundreds of thousands of starsfish. You will not be able to save them all!”

The child -with a starfish still in his hand – was thoughtful for a moment. He then threw the animal back into the sea and replied to the man: “Well, it may be true, but for those starfish I’ve put back in the sea I have made a huge difference”.

Even if your personal contribution is limited to not polluting and possibly even to telling others to stop polluting… you are doing a very good thing! And if for some reason you decide that you can even help to collect the existing trash then you are doing something even better and making a greater difference!

If you are thinking about extracting/fishing or buying shells or corals from fishermen, I invite you to avoid doing so and to wait to collect those you find on the beaches. Corals, snails and pearl oysters take many years to grow and may disappear from our ocean if we keep doing this, and this leaves us all in a colorless world, a world of less diversity and decreased beauty.

I invite you to be part of those who make the DIFFERENCE and not part of those living in INDIFFERENCE.

Until next time.

Estrellas de Mar en la Playa

The Biggest Cortez Pearl

The BIGGEST Cortez Pearl Ever.

17mm Cortez Baroque PearlOh yes! It happened this year. Finally after years of never seeing a really large Cortez Pearl we had the unique opportunity of harvesting a freakishly giant pearl measuring 17 mm in diameter. This huge dark-gray/purple baroque pearl is uniquely different from previous large Cortez Pearls because:

  • The largest Cortez Pearl was a 14 mm baroque pearl that was not solid. It was a “gas giant pearl” and these pearls are usually filled with a stinky dark liquid (which I fondly call “Pepe” for “Pearl Petroleum”) and do not have a very thick coating of pearl. When the putrid liquid is removed (cleansing the interior with hydrogen peroxide) you are left with a very light and hollow pearl.
  • The largest solid Cortez Pearl was -until this year- a 12 mm near round pearl that was harvested in 2012. The largest nuclei (pearl beads) we employ for the production of a cultured pearl will measure 10 mm, so this large pearl is quite solid with 2 mm of nacre growth (or 1 mm of nacre to each “side”).

So this information –and the one that follows- basically lays down the information needed to hopefully understand what makes this Giant Cortez Pearl special and why it is most unlikely we will ever see another pearl like this in many, many more years. This is truly a one of a kind pearl. Let me explain some basic pointers.

The Pearl Sac

The Rainbow lipped pearl oyster is an animal with a tiny pearl sac. The “pearl sac” is -technically speaking- just a very thin layer or nacre producing cells that grow on top of the pearl (and initially on top of the mother-of-pearl nuclei), but many people refer to this sac as the “general anatomic area” where the pearl is growing. To place this in a context it is like when people refer as that “a baby is growing in a mommy’s tummy” as opposed to stating that “a fetus grows within the uterus”, so I hope you get the idea. So, the pearl sac of this species (the general pearl producing area) is incredibly small. Tiny. Insignificant. To give you an idea of how small it is you can watch a video of the extraction of a pearl from any other variety of pearl oyster and one from the rainbow lip. You will see the big difference!

Let me tell you a story of something that happened to me back in 2012 or 2011…can’t really recall the year. I was at the pearl farm when I was told we had some special visitors. Went up to meet with them and they were a couple of pearl farmers from Tahiti. I will not state their names in public out of respect of their privacy. So, I greeted them and they wanted to see the farm and in the end they requested me to open up an oyster so they could see its shell and anatomy (I could imagine a bit of “technical espionage” there, but no harm can come of something as simple) and when I did…that is when I was amazed! Their reaction was astronomically unique! Their eyes seemed to “pop out” of their heads, a look of utter disbelief painted in their faces and they would look at the animal then at my face then back at the oyster then back at my face and this in a very fast manner! Finally he was able of uttering this phrase: “How…how can you EVEN produce pearls larger than 8 mm!?!?!?!?!”

Pinctada margaritifera vs Pteria sterna

Well, their experience is rooted in the Tahitian Black lip oyster (remember: genus Pinctada) which is not only a much larger sized animal but also it has a very conspicuosly large “pearl sac” in comparisson with the Pteria sterna which has a very tiny and compact “pearl sac” surrounded by the animal’s intestines too. So, from their experience what we were doing producing pearls in sizes between 8 to 12 mm is simply impossible. It took them some time to regain composture, then they left and I have never heard from them again. Not even a postcard.

Nuclei Sizes

BigCortez2Since our rainbow lip oyster has this tiny pearl sac we can only use “small” mother of pearl beads. The smallest sized beads we use are the 6 and 6.5 mm nuclei (our average size when seeding oysters) and we also have other larger sizes, our biggest nuclei being a 10 mm bead. I –personally- very rarely use that size…and since we keep the information on the biggest sized beads we use for every daily operation during the pearl seeding season I can tell you with a 100% degree of certainty that I have been unable to use a bead in this size since 4 years ago.

So, the 12 mm pearl I mentioned before was quite obiously the product of a 9.6 or 10 mm nucleus, but this larger pearl was actually the product of a smaller bead: for that given day of seeding, the largest nucleus I used measured only 9.3 mm. If this particular pearl is the product of such pearl it means that it has a whoping 7.70 mm of nacre around the bead! This is clearly a lot more than the typical coating of 1.5 to 2.3 mm of nacre we see in our Cortez Cultured Pearls.

The photo on the right side displays the large baroque pearl with some “smaller” pearls (8.5 to 9.5 mm in diameter).

Why is this Pearl SO BIG?!?!?

I don’t really know. This is a mistery that only the destruction of the pearl or an advanced pearl analysis may help us understand and I would welcome an offer to analize this pearl before it can be sold or goes into our “Pearl Museum” display.

My only guess is that the pearl producing cells of that rainbow lipped oyster worked under a different metabolic rate, probably in a state of angyiogenesis (similar to what tumor cells do in our bodies, by promoting the growth of blood vessels to feed the tumor and allow it grow), but this is simply my guess.

So, what do you think made this pearl possible??? I leave you with this thought… cheers!

Record Breaking Cortez Pearl Year

This Summer was a record breaking event for two reasons:

  1. We managed to produce our biggest Cortez Pearl harvest ever (finally 4 kilos of pearls).
  2. We harvested the largest Cortez Cultured Pearl Ever.

And both of these record breaking events are quite a feat…but in order to understand why this is important or amazing we will have to analyze the situation. This is what this entry is all about: so you can see why this matters or is of importance. A Sustainable Pearl production is not an easy matter.

Producing Cortez Cultured Pearls.

Back in June -while I was at the Sustainable Pearls forum conference- I was listening to Jacques Christophe Branellec’s (of Jewelmer fame) talk on Sustainable Pearl production in the Phillipines and I vividly remember him showing a PowerPoint slide with a number: 7000. He asked us to see the number and then think about what he way going to reveal about it. He said: “That is the number of Gem quality pearls we harvest every year”. So out of a harvest of several tons of South Sea Pearls, Jacques was stating that only 7 thousand meet the “Gem Quality criterion”. At that moment you come to realize how truly special are these “Gem Grade Pearls”. Wow. They are special indeed…just a small fraction of a pearl harvest.

And at that same moment I started reflecting how truly special my Cortez Pearls are. I am constantly asked about what makes my pearls “special” and I tell people a lot of things: that mine glow red under UV light, that they are guaranteed to never be processed, that they are the only ones grown in the American continent… but I believe it is time to really put this information in a special context so you can understand how truly special they are, specially under the light of the “7000” figure. I hope I can convey my ideas correctly so you can also have a “Wow Moment” with my Cortez Pearls.

So here is the list of things that make these pearls special:

1) The only commercially cultured pearls grown in a Pteria genus pearl oyster: Yes, all other marine cultured pearls are grown in Pinctada genus oysters, this includes the Akoya oyster (Pinctada imbricata), the Silver & Gold lipped oysters (Pinctada maxima) and the Black lip oyster (Pinctada margaritifera). So, just in this respect our pearls are unique because they are the only ones that are being grown in this species of pearl oyster: the Rainbow Lipped Pearl Oyster (Pteria sterna). In a future blog post I will explain why we are still the only producers of this variety of pearl oyster.

Collage-Pinctada-Pteria

2) Unique Fluorescence: This is the only cultured pearl that glows pink to red under long-wave Ultraviolet light, when all other pearls (Akoya, white South Seas and Freshwater pearls) glow blue-green, and others (imitation/fake, artificially colored, black and golden South Sea pearls) don’t display fluorescence under this light. This is a feature that has been discussed in this blog before.

3) Extremely Limited Production: Each year we start with around 100,000 baby oysters (spat) for their use as pearl producing oysters some 24 months later. After all normal mortalities (this is a very delicate oyster) and the selection of only the best oysters for pearl production (both for Mabe & cultured pearls) we are left with some 20-30 thousand oysters that will be useable. We will still have some adittional mortality the next 2 years and we will be able to harvest between 15-23 thousand oysters, with a yield between 2 to 4 kilos of cultured pearls (1 pearl roughly weighs 1 gram = 2 to 4 thousand pearls) and 3 to 6 thousand Mabe pearls. In a nutshell (or is it more appropiate to say: in an oyster shell?) this means that only 4% of our oysters yield a pearl. When I absorbed the “7000” figure from Jacques’ presentation, my mind came up with “200” (yes, not even the “300” Spartans that valiantly fought the entire might of Persia). Only 200 top gem grade pearls every year.

Drop Dead Gorgeous Pearls (4)

4) All Natural Beauty: We have this thing about “pearl enhancing”…we simply don’t like it, so we don’t do it. We don’t bleach the pearls to lighten their color, we don’t dye them, we don’t polish them to make them shiny…we just DON’T PROCESS THEM. I am not against people that do this, but it is simply not our thing and we should be respected for it. For us a pearl is purely beautiful just the way it is. My way of thinking about this issue is like when you have a beauty pageant (not really my thing, but it works for this explanation): imagine that all the women that are in this competition have been “enhanced” by the skills of the best plastic surgeons in the world…are we judging the true physical beauty of the participants…or the skill of their surgeons? You can have it your way but only if you have the option, and we are giving you this option in our Cortez Pearls.

Perlas Cosecha 2007 (29)

So, this is a small list of things that make our Cortez Pearls so special. Some of my friends will say –quite correctly- that this doesn’t make my pearls better than other and they are correct: all pearls are special, all created by Nature, all of them a product of a living entity, and each is unique unto itself. I agree: my pearls are not better…they are simply different from any other pearl in production today.

So these are the facts my friends: no more and no less. Safeguard that “200” figure in your minds just like you may remember those 300 brave Spartan warriors of ancient times.

See you next week, when I will give you the scoop into the largest Cortez Pearl ever!

Pure Cortez Pearls

It has been a very exciting Summer…our harvest is almost over (and it has been the best ever!), we found the largest Cortez Pearl ever, I went to Hong Kong and I will soon travel to Los Angeles for Pearl Paradise’s traditional Pearl Ruckus…and it promises to be the biggest ever! But now I even have to add the biggest thing to happen to our Cortez Pearls since sliced bread: we have a new U.S. based distributor with an exclusive fine jewelry line. I feel like walking on water!

PurePearls.com

You do have to wonder how this new world works…because the owner of this established pearl jewelry brand/store is Ashley McNamara and we have not met in person. I believe we became acquainted with each other thanks to the Pearl-Guide forum, and after years of sharing our common love for this beautiful gem is that our companies have ended up working toghether. I am really happy to have PurePearls.com as another authorized distributor since we share this passion and drive for unique pearls and for settings that emphasize the gem’s beauty.

Today (July 17th,2014) is the official launch of PurePearl’s Cortez Cultured Pearl line and they have started with an assortment of our Cortez Pearls at incredible (and I mean: Incredible!) discounted prices! You really have to check those prices before the pearls dissapear.

Ashley made sure she got the largest and most beautiful pearls we had from the 2013 Pearl harvest to introduce several jewelry lines…it all starts with the pearl pendants and earrings, but will soon include baroque pearls and Cortez Mabe pearl jewelry.

So, don’t wait much to get your amazing Cortez Pearl pendants…these prices and qualities won’t last long! Have fun doing a bit of e-Shopping and remember what (CIBJO President) Dr Gaetano Cavalieri recently said at the Sustainable Pearls forum in Hong Kong: “When a consumer buys an item of pearl jewellery, they should feel that they have invested in our planet’s long-term survival rather than having taken advantage of it”.

I have to admit I love Dr. Cavalieri’s phrase and you’ll love to love our beautiful Cortez Pearls too. To go to PurePearl’s shopping site just click HERE.

See you soon!

The 5 most important things to consider about Sustainable Pearl Farming

Greetings friends! I’m currently occupied with this years’ (2014) pearl harvest (by the way, it has been a very good harvest: definitively the best harvest ever!) but I felt I really needed to write about the recent Sustainable Pearls Forum that was held in June 23rd in the city of Hong Kong. This great event was funded by The Tiffany & Co. Foundation and the University of Vermont, and I personally believe it is the best “pearling” event since “Pearls’ 94″ (a great gathering of pearl farmers, traders, scientists and buyers, took place in Waikiki, Hawaii, organized by Richard Fassler of Hawaii’s Department of Economic Development), and I believe this event is definitively more important since it addresses the most important concern for every person that loves, trades or grows pearls: the long term viability of this industry. As a special note I would like to congratulate project leaders: Drs. Saleem Ali, Laurent Cartier and Julie Nash for the amazing job they did for the Sustainable Pearls Conference and the labor of love they have given to this unique project.

The presenters at the June 23 Sustainable Pearls Conference in Hong Kong
The presenters at the June 23 Sustainable Pearls Conference in Hong Kong

Now, why should anyone care about this? I mean, there are millions of pearls being produced each year and most people don’t truly appreciate them for what they are: an organic Gem, produced by a Living organism that must grow in a Healthy environment. It’s these 3 simple things that make this Gem so unique and Special.

From my point of view these are the 5 most important reasons why Pearl Farming can be an important way of protecting our natural environment:

  1. A Pearl farm is sort of like a “protective umbrella”, where many other species of organisms will find shelter and protection from fishermen, and this greatly enhances their opportunity of survival, so a pearl farm is not just about pearl oysters. This is Protection of the Biosphere.
  2. A pearl farm operation will use its local resources whenever possible, avoiding waste and the lowest possible carbon-print.
  3. The farming operation must offer full disclosure and transparency: you should be able to visit the farm and see the way they operate openly, and you should be given complete information about the pearl’s origin and processing (if any).
  4. They should also operate in a socially and culturally responsible way: a job should have and give meaning to a worker, not only becoming a tedious way to make some money, and of course: salaries should be adequate and comply -even exceed- the local laws. And the farm should also become a special place -of local pride- to locals and visitors: a place to learn.
  5. Management Commitment: but all these benefits will be lost if there is mismanagement of resources and the farm has to close down. The farm is -after all- also a commercial venture that has got to make money in order to continue operating.
Rainbow Lip Pearl Oyster (Pteria sterna) with cultured pearls.
Rainbow Lip Pearl Oyster (Pteria sterna) with cultured pearls.

So this great gathering of pearl producers, researchers and industry has opened up the opportunity for a greater development of Sustainable Pearl farming operations that comply with these 5 Guiding Principles.

Where do Cortez Pearls stand?

Considering these 5 principles I feel more than confident to say that our little pearl farm in the Gulf of California is more than just compliant and -very importantly- we are always trying to find more ways to make this operation have more tangible results, some can be seen in our Natural refuge area (currently home to thousands of Sea Cucumbers and black-lip pearl oysters), our teaching efforts (tens of thousands of visitors educated about pearl farming since 1996) and the thousands of school-children that visit the farm to learn about pearl farming and biodiversity in the Sea of Cortez.

In the meantime, you can basically say there are just 4 pearl producers in the world that fully subscribe to these principles, and hopefully more will join the ranks in time. These are:

  • Paspaley Pearls– Australian producer of large, white South Sea Pearls using the silver-lip oyster (Pinctada maxima)
  • Jewelmer– Philippine producer of large golden colored South Sea Pearls using the Gold-lip pearl oyster (P. maxima)
  • Kamoka Pearls– Tahitian producer of  uniquely colored black pearls using the black-lip oyster (P. margaritifera)
  • Perlas del Mar de Cortez– the only producer of uniquely colored pearls in the Americas, using the distinctive Rainbow-lip pearl oyster (Pteria sterna)

We feel proud and honored to be a part of such a small group of environmentally responsible pearl producers, and I would really like to take the time to give my sincere thanks to the people that have helped us -over the years- to attain this unique position. The list is really lengthy but I cannot avoid thanking our former teachers and later our associates Sergio Farell and his wife Machángeles Carbajal, and our ex-partner and wise teacher Guillermo Soberón: they helped us shape this vision of sustainability in an aquaculture environment, at a time when this seemed unimportant in this industry. Also my friends and associates Enrique Arizmendi & Manuel Nava for sharing this same passion and determination, even in the face of dire difficulties. And also, for some of our friends/buyers that have shared this same eco-ideology such as Eric & Kathe Braunwert of Columbia Gemhouse, Kira Kampmann of Marc’ Harit and Dr. Dyann Smith, Gemologist and owner of Raw Pearls of Adelaide, Australia.

And I would really like to thank some beautiful people I have been unable to meet in person: Dr. Dyann Smith and Nora Lerner. Both have become truest friends and given me a support that I have never in my life experienced. To you both: My Eternal Gratitude and Love.

And to all of you special thanks as well: if you have visited or purchased pearls at our pearl farm in Guaymas-San Carlos, or you were a customer at our jewelry stores in Cabo San Lucas or Cozumel, or if you have purchased our pearls from us at any of the many gem shows we have exhibited at or through any of our buyers then we also need to thank you: you have made it possible for us to continue growing pearls and to protect the unique marine environment that we cherish and we call Home.

And so, this comes to an end for now…but I will later provide you with links to the many presentations and videos of the Sustainable Pearl conferences. Atardecer Bacochibampo (2)

 Sustainable Pearls Forum Videos-Post Update August 8th

The Sustainable Pearls project has made all presentations readily available via their website. You will be able to watch all the great presentations in detail by visiting this link. I took their video and changed it a bit so you could also see my presentation in full color. I hope you enjoy it.

The 2014 Tucson Gem Show–Part 2

I continue with details about this year’s Tucson Gem Show, and this time I will focus on some curiosities and things that caught my eye. I will begin by introducing you to a new kind of “Japanese Pearl”.

The “Cotton Pearl”

Sometimes I find it mind-boggling to think that with today’s low prices on Chinese freshwater pearls there are companies that still feel it is necessary to produce yet another imitation pearl. Yes, I know…but this is something I found this year at the Tucson Gem Show: a new faux-perle made in Japan by “Miyuki Bijoux”.

These plastic spheres range in sizes from 8 mm to some enormous pieces that may measure over 30 mm and they come in a great variety of assorted colors such as: white, cream-beige, lemmong green, sky blue, golden, purple, pink and black. The surface of these beads is unique when compared to other imitation pearls such as “Mallorca” or “Shell-Pearls” since it is highly texturized and in a spiral. Another trait is that they are very lightweight, so a necklace made with the huge beads will not be a concern for your chiropractist. The “Cotton Pearl” has a drill-hole that is very much typical of other plastic imitations.

From my point of view they are definitively not trying to imitate pearls but to perhaps carve a special niche in the bijoux market. Pricing: a small bag with 12 pieces in 9 mm diameter has a net value of $5 USD, and just one large piece (30 mm) will have the very same value. Necklaces were being sold in the $30-50 USD range, depending on the size of the beads.

Here we have some photos of these new “pearls”:

 

Giant Chinese Freshwater Pearls

In the previous entry I told you about the so called “Diamond Pearls” and the “Fireballs”, but I did not mention two more pearls in this category that I found very interesting. I found them interesting enough to purchase some for my already famous “pearl dissections”, which I hope to document and share with you all in the near future.

I named one of these pearls using the Japanese word “Shuriken” due to it very unusual shape. My youngest daughter saw this pearl and immediately conceived an excellent use for it with one of her favorite toys: a teenage mutant ninja turtle. Hey, I didn’t come up with the idea…but it was quite fitting. Still, I can envision someone using these pearls for a higher purpose and they can indeed be fun.

The other pearl I found had no commercial name and was simply described as a large freshwater pearl. I would call these “skull pearls” (obviously for their shapes). Quite cheap for such a large pearl (up to an inch big/4 cm) and they have shapes that I found very pleasing to use as “carving pearls”. As a matter of fact I sent some of these pearls to my friend -and designer- Carlos Cabral since he is also a master carver (specializing in wood, amber, shell and other semi-precious stones) and I can see him making some fabulous pieces with these. I am sure he will send me photos eventually, which I will be able to share with you all.

 

Ammolite/Korite – Beautiful Fossilized Mother-of-Pearl

This is a product I had the chance to see way back in 1996 if I remeber well. I was impressed with the display of these enormous and beautiful fossilized specimens of Ammonites, some large primitive cephalopods that became extinct many millions of years ago. Back in those days I thought it was a sacrilege to cut & destroy these beautiful specimens to produce jewelry items (yes, I know…typical of biologists), but I was told that there aren’t enough museums in the world to hold all the shells they obtain every year, that many shells/fossils are broken and not fit for displaying and that they would eventually just become damaged. Ok, I get it, made your point.

Anyway, I love the beauty of mother-of-pearl shell and these fossils do bear resemblance to the “fresh” material they came from: the beautifully thin and iridescent layers that offer their colorful interplay…but there is this incredibly stunning intensity of color that makes this gem very unique: the greens and the reds are simply breath-taking. I spoke at lenght with the owner of a small Canadian company that process the shells and mount them in some very nice silver and gold designs. They use the commercial trade-name of Ammolite for their product (also known as Korite) and it has a competitive price range ($200-300) per piece when the gem itself is set in silver. Made for a very nice gift.

Ammolite is considered as one of the three organic gems –alongside amber and its close cousin pearl- and it seemingly has some interesting metaphysical properties…if you do care for such things. Just look up for this information on your favorite search engine.

If interested in this product you may contact John Reed of “Enchanted Designs” with this Canadian phone number: (250) 713-2220.

Final Thoughts

Altough at this moment we are no longer inside the “pearl lab” trying to coax our precious oysters into producing pearls, we have been quite busy with our pearl and pearl jewelry sales. We have recently been blessed with great sales with our friends at “Raw Pearls” (Adelaide, Australia), “Marc H’arit” (Copenhaguen, Denmark) and to a new buyer in the United States (can’t tell you whom just yet). We are eagerly expecting good news from all these three sources.

On the jewelry front, we have been working with new suppliers that have enabled us to have a new price & quality range for our jewelry line and this has had a very positive impression on our customers and pearl farm visitors. We invite you to visit our Cortez Pearls Facebook page so you can see some of our new designs (and maybe even to be as kind as to gift us by clicking on the “Like” button), some of which are already available for sale at our e-Store.

On the Road Again: I can’t wait to be on the road again…good ‘ole Willie Nelson fans will recognize this great tune of his and it used to be my “battle cry” when I worked in the touristic industry some 14 years ago (wow, time does fly when you’re having fun!) and this year I do listen to this tune in the back of my mind: I will be in Hong Kong in a couple of weeks to participate as a speaker and panelist at the “Sustainable Pearls Forum” (at the invitation of the Tiffany Co. Foundation). I will be both honored and thrilled to be amonst friends and colleagues such as Jacques-Christophe Branellec of Jewelmer fame, Robert Wan of Tahiti Perles, gemmologist & author Laurent Cartier, Julie Stiles and Dr. Saleem Ali -these being the faces behind the Sustainable Pearls initiative- Shigeru Akamatsu of Mikimoto Pearls and our very good friend and eco-friendly pearl farmer Josh Humbert of Kamoka Pearls. Of course, there will be many more personalities at this event which I hope to soon meet. Will let you know more about this once I come back from Hong Kong and we finish up with this year’s Cortez Pearl Harvest…yes, the most exciting time of the year is upon us!

Then, next month, I will be again off to California to participate in the now traditional Pearl Ruckus event held by my very esteemed friends Jeremy & Hisano Shepherd of Pearl-Paradise.com fame. I am sure that it will be a very interest gathering of pearl specialists & pearl lovers and it has been two years since last I’ve been there so I am really happy to once again be in a gathering of like-minded “pearlers”. And this year does bode to be an “El Niño” year: just a couple of days the city of Hermosillo (just some 120 Km/75 miles) from here hit an all time high-temperature of 52 Celsius/123 Fahrenheit!!! and Guaymas is usually not as hot (we are on the coastline after all) but we still hit a simmering 48 C/119 F degrees. Now, warm air temperatures per sei don’t mean there will be a “Niño” event…but I’ve been following the NOA’s ENSO advisory and it looks like we’ll have one (70% chance), it feels as if we’ll have one…I believe we’ll have one. Then we’ll also have about 14 hurricanes on the Pacific side…so it seems like it’s going to be a very interesting year.

Please keep visiting and leave your comments…I always read them.

The Tucson Gem Show 2014–Part 1

We are already in the month of May and this event took place in the month of February in the city of Tucson, Arizona. I have previously commented on our annual pilgrimage to this gigantic showcase & sales event, and every year you can find some new & different items: what’s new in the world of gems and jewelry? how about fossils and meteorites? Well, this year it was no exception and I take this opportunity to talk about some new people I met and their unique products.

Pearls, pearls…and more pearls?

In the subject of pearls we had several new revelations at the Tucson Gem Show. We had a chance to see and touch several new varieties of natural pearls from Mexican waters -thanks to our friend Edgar- including some very unusual pearls specimens from a species of snail (Pleuroploca gigantea); one of these pearls is what I would call as “Full Blooded Mexican” all the way to the name that Edgar christened it with:  “The Habanero Pepper Pearl”.

I had never seen something quite like this before. I do have to agree with our local vernacular poet Bruno Pablos: “the longer you live, the more things you will see”. This snail species is common on the Atlantic coast -from Florida in United States to Yucatan, Mexico- and is known as the “Florida Horse conch”. Their most striking features are an orange-red coloration and the unique pattern on their surface.

We got to see other pearls from this very same snail species, and they can be considered as “more beautiful” (this “Habanero Pearl” really has a huge size and unique appearance) due to their more appealing shape. This is yet another Pearl that adorns the beautiful coasts of Mexico.

Sea of Cortez pearls

Returning now to my pearls, we had opportunity to see some of the work of our friend Sarah Canizzaro of “Kojima Pearls” fame. She used our beautiful Cortez Pearls to produce with a beautiful Pearl Necklace accented with different gems. Each year we are fortunate to see and enjoy the new creations of many talented designers, but I really enjoy Sarah’s designs and discussing pearls with this internationally acclaimed Pearl-Fanatic. Kudos Sarah!

As a summary of this year’s gem show, I can state that it was a good year for our pearl sales: our traditional clients continue acquiring pearls for their jewelry unless there is a dramatic disaster – such as the Tsunami in Japan- which collapsed this important market for us for a couple of years. The Pearls that we had on display and for sale this year were of a slightly smaller size than other years, but the colors and luster were really exceptional.

In addition to the usual sales activities, we had the opportunity of sharing the “salt and bread” with some of the most important actors in the world of pearls, among them we have Jeremy Shepherd -the new “King of Pearls”-  (who we see together with Enrique Arizmendi, General Director of Perlas del Mar de Cortez), owner of Pearl-Paradise.com, fellow pearl-farmer Jacques Christophe Branellec (who appears with Sarah Canizzaro in the photo) and Managing Director of “Jewelmer” and our dear friend & gemologist Elisabeth Strack (author of the best-selling book “Perlen”) and who -by the way- just gave a very interesting presentation entitled “the first decade of the 21st century: is the pearl market changing?”. Several other good old friends were present at the dinner such as intrepid pearl-reporter Blair Beavers, Natural Pearl Mogul Jeremy Norris, and of course our gracious host Hisano Shepherd (another talented jewelry designer, also known as “Mrs. Pearl-Paradise”)… I have always has identified Jeremy and Hisano as some of the finest people I have ever met (and I guess I have been lucky to meet do many!) and the best hosts ever. I really thank them for inviting us to their annual Tucson Show dinner of Tucson and the famous “Pearl Ruckus” event. As alway, it is a pleasure to feast & dine with you all!

“Goodnes Gracious Great Balls of Fire” and the “Diamond Pearls”

Sorry, I could not avoid the pun when talking about these “Fireball Pearls”, but in a musical way. Some couple of years ago, these pearls of great size made their appearance at the Tucson Gem Show: they are being grown in freshwater mussels in China and were baptized as “Ikecho” or “Fireballs” (due to their likeness to a comet or fire-ball); this year the available amounts of these pearls caused a significant fall in their price. I am impressed when I see these huge pearls (sizes between 18 and 26 mm in diameter) with such a ridiculous price of $10-50 USD per pearl; clearly it comes to mind that the value of a pearl depends on its beauty (and these particular pearls I saw in Tucson I can say that they are not truly attractive, but you are free to disgress), its rarity (and it seems they are producing tons of these pearls) and quality (in the ones I inspected the quality was medium to low)… and so, if the price tells us something about these pearls I will just leave it to you it to your imagination.

A new Pearl that caught my attention is one that they called “Diamond Pearl”, this Pearl seems to be a variation of the “Ikecho” and I conjecture that the farmers introduced a faceted mother-of-pearl bead into the pearl sac of the mussel to bring you this unusual shape. How much is such a huge Pearl Necklace worth? Bleieve it or not, but it is hardly worth $200 USD, which to me is a clear reflection of what the people who are introducing this product to the market think about it: these are “costume jewelry” quality, never thought of as having GEM quality.

Well, at the moment I think have reached the end of this installment, but I will soon continue since I want to talk about mysterious “Cotton pearls”, a variety that is freshly “harvested” in Japan, and I also want to talk about a Canadian product that already has some time available in the market, but that few people know about and is “related” to pearls.

Thank you for your attention, I hope your valuable comments and I hope to see you soon.

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