There are few moments as exciting to a Pearl Farmer as that of the time to harvest his pearls. This means the culmination of 4 years of taking care of your pearl oysters, years of worries caused by natural phenomena (the "Niño" and "Niña" years, as well as from hurricanes and tropical storms) or human causes. It is at this moment when we can take a deep breath and feel our pressure lowering in relief, only to be replaced by heavy-breathing and an increased heart-rate, but this time caused by the hope of finding that pearl that John Steinbeck referred to as the "Pearl of the World", as described in his novel “The Pearl”, that huge, beautiful & flawless pearl that Kino finds after years of pearl fishing.
And apparently, we are not alone in expecting such a yearly precious event –since it only takes place during the month of June- because this year we were truly honored to be visited by the great German gemologist Elisabeth Strack, author of a book that is considered –by most- as "The Bible of Pearls”, a book for all lovers of this amazing organic gem: "Perlen" (in German) or "Pearls" (in English). Unfortunately there are no editions in other languages, but this is an awesome book that has a great quantity and quality of information about all types of pearls.
And, at this point I don’t know if I can say if you do not say whether Elisabeth had bad or good luck -it will depend on her personal opinion- during her second visit to our pearl farm, because she arrived on the first day of June, and at that time we also had the visit of Mexico’s President, Felipe Calderón Hinojosa, in Guaymas; this due to the fact we were also celebrating the “Day of the Navy”, so she had the chance to see a whole array of sailors, armored vehicles, navy helicopters and warships in Guaymas. Regardless of her opinion, she did bring us "good luck", as this year’s pearl harvest seems as it will become the best of our history, at least in color and beauty of the harvested pearls.
Elisabeth Strack visited us because she has been working on her book’s second edition, and updated data and information is much required and this cannot be gathered just by hearsay. When at the first day of harvest with us, she noticed that some of the colors on our pearls just seemed to be impossible: because she just could not believe some of the colors she was seeing… even when she saw the pearls just coming out of our pearl oysters. And I assume that is a normal reaction for people who have seen pearl harvests in other types of pearl oysters, such as those from the Pinctada genus, or from pearly-mussels (Family Unionidae), but this was her first time watching cultured and natural pearls come out from our "Rainbow Lipped Pearl Oyster” (Pteria sterna). This incredible color saturation is observed even in the shells of this year’s oysters.
Cortez Pearl Harvest 2011
And I was wondering if you’ve seen how pearls are harvested here in Guaymas? We have several videos available on YouTube, but this is probably my favorite from the 2009 harvest:
And mentioned that Elisabeth was amazed with the natural colors of our pearls as it is rare to find such a variety of colors on a single crop in just one location. The "black pearl" of French Polynesia are mainly dark, but each atoll can produce a certain range of colors. Here in Guaymas we have been blessed with every imaginable body-color and overtones on our pearls. And as a sampler we have some photos…
On the photo above, a beautiful dark purple pearl, with three pearl behind it: one green, a “red” one and a blue colored one.
A couple more photos, now one with our so called “Yori” or “white pearls”, always displaying green and pink overtones.
And I must make it very clear that the pearls came out with the colors you are seeing, they were not processed in any way: not polished (to improve their luster or "make them shiny"), there were not "bleached" chemically to make them white, nor stained/dyed to darken them. They are simply the result of an amazing natural pigmentation process.
These pearls belong to the group of “Green” pearls, but our “green pearls” are very different from the typical Tahitian "green” pearl because Cortez Pearls tend to be brighter, not the “dark-black” color. Our greens also mix with other colors, making them uniquely different.
These last pearls have a reddish body color (violet) with green overtones, leaning towards the “Peacock” color of Tahitian Pearls but not exactly…they are also unique. It seems that this year this Red color will be rather generous. The "red pearls" or "Cranberry” are incredibly rare, so most of those seen for sale have an artificial color (and you can tell it is), but here in Guaymas we are fortunate enough to produce a dozen or so with this “cranberry” color per year.
And Elisabeth returned to Germany, but before she did she also updated her knowledge on Authentic Mexican-Sonoran Food (unlike the variety they serve in Germany), allowing her taste buds to indulge in the sinful dishes served at our favorite restaurant ("Los Arbolitos de Cajeme"): a “tower” of fresh sea-scallops, fresh tomatoes and avocado slices with some spicy olive-oil dressing, shrimp and smoked-marlin “Toritos” (Banana Peppers filled with these delicacies), a fresh crab meat “tostada”, a savory seafood “machaca” (made with finely minced squid, shrimp and scallops) and an extravagant fish fillet covered with a hot cactus, onion and pepper topping… I surely hope that Elisabeth will have additional reasons to return next year to Guaymas.
I hope this entry about the 2011 Cortez Pearl harvest was of interest to you. I will eventually write-up this year’s harvest’s full information (quantity of harvested pearls, size of harvested pearls, shapes, colors, qualities, etc.) since we still have 30% of the harvest yet to reap and we are still hopeful, as we are every year, to find the "Pearl of the World .
Until next time…
With great pleasure and satisfaction we announce the presentation of three pearl necklaces for the year 2010. As with all previous pearl necklaces that have been produced in Mexico since our pearl farm started operations, these necklaces are made using pearls from several crops or pearl-harvests; for these 3 necklaces, we have used pearls from the 2010, 2009, 2008 and even 2007 crops. You need extreme patience in order to produce a good string of pearls.
What makes these necklaces so special? Well, they consist of pearls produced in Mexico’s Gulf of California, a region known worldwide for its pearls, and these are cultured using a limited-production (4 kilos) scheme, these are the only cultured pearls that are produced under the “Fair Trade Gems” standards, the only cultured pearls that are produced using a “winged pearl oyster”: the “Rainbow-Lip Pearl Oyster“ or Pteria sterna, thus they are the rarest cultured pearls produced in the world and they also display a pink-red fluorescence under long wave UV rays, and are some of the very few cultured pearls that do not receive any “embellishing” treatments (physical nor chemical) … there are many more things to say about how special these pearls are, but this is just to lay the basics.
What we now need to do is present these three strings of pearls from the 2010 edition:
Necklace 2010 – A
This one consists of a graduated necklace with a length of 20″ (50.8 cm), made with 49 baroque pearls with a size (diameter) of between 8.0 and 8.7 mm, using “B” grade “Cortez Pearls” (“B” grade means that there are skin imperfections on the pearl and that its luster is not very high), the central pearl measure 8.7 x 9.1 mm . However, with its light gray color, unique shapes and its iridescent pearls makes it a truly exceptional piece. It has a simple yellow 18 K gold brooch.
This is an excellent pearl necklace when you consider its price:benefit. It is a baroque pearl necklace, but these pearls are soft baroques (not by human action), in short, although these pearls are asymmetrical shaped they posses very soft shapes that are almost spherical in appearance, thus they look “round” from a certain distance. It is quite uncommon for our Gulf of California cultured pearls to have a perfectly round shape (the reasons will be explained in a future post), thus our spherical shapes attain a far greater value than that of the most common shape: the asymmetric or baroque shapes-so this necklace achieves a relative low cost with great looks or “more bang for your bucks”.
This graduated multicolored 19″ (48.26 cm) pearl necklace consists of 51 baroque pearls with a size between 8.0 & 8.6 mm (diameter) and made with “A” and “A+” grade pearls (this means very good natural luster and a clean pearl surface) of exceptional colors. The result is a rainbow-like necklace with red, green, blue gray, black and purple pearls … As with the previous necklace, it features a plain 18K yellow gold brooch.
Special Edition “Bicentennial” 2010 Pearl Necklace
This is a truly a unique Cortez Pearl necklace, a piece of jewelry fit for a Queen and truly something that very few can own. We’ve placed this necklace at the same level of delicacy -for want of a better word- as some of our finest necklaces such as “Stella Maris” (2009) and “Bohéme” (2008). The central pearl is a gorgeous purple pearl (11.6 mm) with incredible green overtones (obtained from the 2010 harvest).
This 19″ (48 cm) graduated multi-colored pearl necklace consists of 49 near-round Sea of Cortez Cultured Pearls with sizes between 8.7 and 11.6 mm (diameter), and was made using the only “A+” and “Gem” grade pearls, featuring the most intensely colored pearls available, the highest natural luster and the best surface (“skin”) purity possible using only non-treated pearls. This necklace does not include a clasp, since the buyer usually acquires a specially made clasp for such a unique piece.
So far we have named this necklace as “Bicentennial” (Mexico turns 200 years old as an Independent country this year) but this name will be changed by the owner: in the purest pearling tradition these unique necklaces are named or are “christened” in the manner of other famous necklaces or Pearls of old. In today’s world, the vast majority of necklaces produced do not even deserve a nickname… but high quality pearls with a limited production are still worthy of this distinction.
Where are the other Cortez Pearl Necklaces?
Since our Bacochibampo Bay farm started producing loose cultured pearls in the year 2000, we have only managed to produce eight special pearl necklaces -with characteristics similar to those of the “Bicentennial” necklace- and we have always wanted for these to remain in Mexico, but this has not always been possible. So where are these necklaces? Here’s the list:
- 3 necklaces in Mexico, including the three most perfect and beautiful: “Stella Maris”, “Bohéme” and “Balandra.”
- 2 in the United States of America (“Maria” and “Isabella”)
- 1 in Italy
- 1 in New Zealand
Understandably, the owners remain anonymous. In the case of “Bohéme” it had the distinction of appearing in the book “Pearls” by gemologists Hubert Bari and David Lam, a book where the authors state (on page 86) the following about the “Sea of Cortez Pearl”: “It is perhaps the most beautiful pearl to have been cultured up to now” (Hubert Bari & David Lam. 2010. Pearls. Skira . Italy. 336 pages).
Where will the “Bicentennial” spend its Time? What will be its final name? That will be known soon …so, stay tuned!