Tag Archives: pearl necklace

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.

Two very Special Pearl Necklaces

We want to share with you the experience of having achieved the production of two unique -exceptional- pearl necklaces made from pearls produced at our farm in Bay Bacochibampo, Guaymas, Sonora, Mexico.

Both necklaces –one made of loose cultured pearls and the other from keshi pearls- are made using pearls produced by the native Pearl Oyster known locally as “Concha Nácar”, also known as the “Rainbow-lip Pearl Oyster” or by its scientific name Pteria sterna. If you have checked any world pearl production data, you will find that this is the only commercial farm in the world that employs a pearl oyster of the genus Pteria. So, all other pearl farms of the world use the so-called “mother-of-pearl oysters”, which belong to genus Pinctada. Thus, simply because of their rarity, a necklace made of pearls from the “Rainbow-lip Pearl Oyster” is really a very special piece, completely out of the ordinary.

Finally, we could talk with technicalities about the beauty of these pearls… that their Orient or overtones are exceptional, that their chroma or color saturation is simply out of the ordinary, that their natural luster is very high, but I think that anything that is said about these two necklaces simply PALES before what we can capture with our eyes… so we offer some beautiful pictures of these items, and you… you will be the one to decide whether they are beautiful and exceptional pieces.

“Bacochibampo” Pearl Necklace

Bacochibampo Pearl Necklace

Previously known as the “Bicentennial” necklace, but once it passed into the hands of its new owners it received it’s new – and very proper- name: Bacochibampo. This is a word which means “Bay of the Seven-headed Snake” and refers to an ancient Yaqui legend (of which we will talk in the future). It is also the name of the beautiful Bay in which we culture these pearls, thus we found its name to be more than appropriate.

This necklace consists of 41 cultured pearls, but if you recall (see this note) the necklace originally had 43 pearls, but the “missing pearls” were used to make a beautiful pair of earrings to go with this incredible piece.

Additionally, it gives great pleasure to say that this necklace found its residence in Mexico, adding to the number of Cortez pearl necklaces in Mexico to 4 (1 more needed to equal the number of necklaces found in other countries).

Close-up of Bacochibampo Pearl Necklace

“Mares Lucis” Necklace

Keshi Pearl Necklace Mares lucis

Whose name evokes the natural phosphorescence which we enjoy in a warm and dark summer night. This is our first great necklace but made with Keshi pearls. It was made at the request of a client in the US and it turned out to be a very pleasant task.

This necklace has 61 Keshi pearls harvested between the years 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2010. It is a graduated necklace, which means that the size of the pearls gradually decreases from the Central Pearl – of greater size – towards the rear. The sizes of the keshis vary between 3.9 and 6.7 (central) mm.

Mares lucis -another view

It was truly a privilege to work in the production of these unique pieces of jewelry. These are durable pieces that are meant to become true family heirlooms. For us the making of these necklaces meant:

1. That we took care of at least four different generations of pearl oysters (2005-2008), each one being looked after for a period of 4 years (this means 12 years of care, work and dedication).

2. The operation of thousands of pearl oysters, so that of these thousands only 1% would give us enough Gem quality pearls, in the sizes and shapes required for the production of these jewelry items.

3. A selection process that involves saving the best pearls from each year’s harvest, so we can have the pearls needed to produce one pearl necklace of this quality, every year.

So when they ask us if we cannot simply make another necklace like these we have to say: “We’d Wish!”… And hopefully next year we also have the opportunity and privilege to produce another necklace like these two… never identical, always unique, but of this same Quality.

The only that remains for me to do is to invite you to watch a short video with additional photos of the “Bacochibampo” pearl necklace…

Announcing the “Bicentennial” Edition Pearl Necklace 2010

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.

Pearl Necklace 2010 – B

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!