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News

  1. GIA Launches AGS Ideal Report
  2. RJC Appoints New Executive Director
  3. Rio Tinto Production Jumps After Diavik Buyout
  4. Charles Stanley To Retire From De Beers
  5. Tiffany Joins LVMH Watches And Jewellery Division
  6. End-Year Diamond Prices Decline, says RAPI
  7. GIA’s Paperless Journey Begins
  8. Vicenzaoro January Reimagines Fine Jewellery Designs
  9. De Beers Rough Sales Steady At Year End Final Sight
  10. Gemfields Emeralds Take Centre Stage in New Jewellery Collaboration
  11. A 303-carat Golden Canary Shines at Sotheby’s New York Sale
  12. Christie’s New York auction totalled nearly $59M
  13. Pantone’s Color of the Year 2023: Viva Magenta
  14. Christie’s Hong Kong Jewellery Auction Fetched $46M
  15. Gemfields’ 187,775-carat Emerald Cluster Sets Record Price
  16. Yellows Showed Highest Increase in Q3 Fancy-Colour Price Index
  17. GIA Joins Watch & Jewellery Initiative 2030
  18. David Yurman Features First Celebrity Ambassadors in Holiday Ad Campaign
  19. Gemfields To Auction 187,775-carat Emerald Cluste
  20. De Beers Announces Hollywood Star as First Global Ambassador
  21. Kering Q3 Jewellery Sales Remain Strong
  22. Rio Tinto Unveils First Argyle Brand Jewellery
  23. De Beers CEO Bruce Cleaver to Step Down in Early 2023
  24. Price Decline Fuelling Diamond Trade Uncertainty
  25. ‘Williamson Pink Star’ Diamond Sold at New Auction Record
  26. Pandora Unveils First Ever Art Collaboration - Keith Haring X Pandora
  27. Further Growth in Hong Kong’s Luxury Retail Sales
  28. Pandora Unveils First Ever Art Collaboration - Keith Haring X Pandora
  29. Further Growth in Hong Kong’s Luxury Retail Sales
  30. Platinum Jewellery Sales Rise in Key Markets in Q2 2022, PGI says
  31. AGTA Announces New Board Members
  32. Fura Gems Discovers 101-carat Ruby
  33. Lightbox Sells Lower-Quality Lab-Grown Diamonds
  34. 160-Carat Rough Unearthed from Angola Mine
  35. GIA Found Synthetics, Simulant among Four ‘Natural’ Sapphires
  36. ‘De Beers Blue' Might Originate from Deep Earth, Says GIA
  37. New Chairman Elected at India’s GJEPC
  38. Tiffany Launches Its First All Gender Bangle Collection
  39. Pandora Launches Lab-grown Diamond Jewellery Collection in North America
  40. Gemfields Reports Record Revenues
  41. IIJS Premiere Sees Record Number Visitors
  42. Signet Acquires Blue Nile for $360M
  43. Hong Kong jewellery sales slide in H1
  44. Fancy Colour Diamond Price Index Rises
  45. The Potentially Largest Pink Diamond Found in 300 Years
  46. Kering Reports Strong First Half Jewellery Sale
  47. Vicenzaoro Back In September
  48. eBay Offers Fine Jewellery Authentication with GIA Partnership
  49. New Executive Director and Secretary General Appointed for Watch & Jewellery Initiative 2030
  50. VO Vintage Returns To Vicenzaoro September
  51. Sarine Partners With NGTC on Grading Reports In China
  52. Diamond Prices Slide Amid Economic Uncertainty
  53. De Beers, Botswana Sales Agreement Extended
  54. AWDC Appoints David Gotlib As New President
  55. IGI Debuts Online Learning Courses
  56. Swarovski Appoints First Non-Family CEO
  57. Kashmir Sapphire Ring Comes Out on Top at Bonhams
  58. WJA Foundation Launches New Scholarship for Women of Colour
  59. Blue Nile Merges with Mudrick for Its Second IPO
  60. RJC Launches ‘Gender Equality Toolkit’ at JCK Las Vegas
  61. GIA Reports to Go Digital by 2025
  62. Gemfields Achieved Highest Revenue at Emerald Auction
  63. DAMAC Group Now Owns de GRISOGONO
  64. GJEPC Proposes Lab-Grown Diamond Park in India
  65. Pandora’s New Crafting Facility in Vietnam Costs $100M
  66. Q1 Gold Jewellery Demand Soft, Says WGC
  67. Jewellery Buying Groups Formed New Global Alliance
  68. Singapore to Host Jewellery & Gem World 2022
  69. ‘Wonder Woman’ Gal Gadot Premiered in Tiffany’s 2022 High Jewellery Collection
  70. Christie’s to Auction ‘The Light of Africa’ for $18M in June
  71. New Board of Directors were elected to Jewellery Exporters Association of Turkey
  72. Oroarezzo back with Première Competition
  73. ‘De Beers Blue’ auctions US$57.5M at Sotheby’s
  74. CTF launches Mother’s Day collection
  75. Jewelers of America Announces The 2022 CASE Award Winners
  76. De Beers: Diamond Businesses Staying Cautious About Business Expectations
  77. Synthetic Alexandrite Pioneer David Patterson Dies at 89
  78. 205 CARAT FANCY INTENSE YELLOW DIAMOND GENEVA MAGNIFICENT JEWELS | 11 MAY 2022
  79. Rebecca Foerster Appointed As President of Hearts On Fire
  80. US Steps Up Sanctions Against Alrosa
  81. PGI Study Findings: Consumers Have Different Interpretations of Sustainability
  82. Irving Wong Appointed as Pandora’s General Manager For China
  83. Rolex’s 6 New Watches Unveiled at Watches & Wonders Geneva
  84. Sixième Sens par Cartier High Jewellery: Heteractis Ring
  85. Will Russian Diamond Ban Help Foster Lab-Grown Diamond Business?
  86. Press Release: Ariana DeBose, Hunter Schafer and Zoey Deutch Shine in De Beers Jewellers at the Vani
  87. Press Release: Ariana DeBose, Hunter Schafer and Zoey Deutch Shine in De Beers Jewellers at the Vani
  88. JEWELLERY GENEVA Takes Place between 30 March and 3 April 2022
  89. Christie’s Presents 228 carat White Dimond
  90. Gold Bar Integrity Programme to be Implemented
  91. Press Release: BONHAMS ANNOUNCES ACQUISITION OF BRUUN RASMUSSEN AUCTIONEERS – DENMARK’S LEADING AUCT
  92. Early Spring Fashion for Natural Diamonds
  93. Jennifer Garner Shines in De Beers Jewellers at the Premiere in New York
  94. To celebrate its 15th anniversary, “Cartier Women’s Initiative Impact Report”
  95. American Gem Trade Association Announces Partnership with JCK Show Again
  96. Chow Tai Fook and Canada's Mountain Province Diamonds Sign Supply Agreement
  97. Registration Is Open for 2022 JCK Show
  98. Alrosa Caught Up in U.S. Sanctions
  99. Tawhid Abdullah Receives Lifetime Achievement Award
  100. The Largest Blue Diamond Appears at Sotheby’s Auction
  101. Price Rise for Nearly 90% Of Fancy Colour Last Year
  102. Dickson Yewn’s Collectibles Given for Sotheby’s Charity Auction
  103. De Beers Boosts Production
  104. Watches & Wonders Geneva To Be Held In Hybrid Format
  105. Jewellery, Gem & Technology Dubai to Debut February
  106. Hong Kong Losing its Dominance as the World's Largest Watch Market
  107. Gift Guide for CNY
  108. Press Release: Sotheby’s Announces New Appointments To Luxury Team In ASsia
  109. Georg Jensen Becomes a Certified Member of RJC
  110. 555.55-carat Black Dimond Unveiled at Sotheby’s Auction
  111. GIA Appoints Anna Martin as SVP for Institute, Industry Relations
  112. Alrosa Boosts Direct Sales of Fancy Diamonds to Investors
  113. CIBJO General Assembly postponed to March 17 and 18, 2022
  114. 7,525 Carat Emerald Discovered
  115. Karl Lagerfeld Jewellery Collections to Shine
  116. Diamonds Travel To The Space
  117. Vicenzaoro January postponed to March
  118. America’s Youngest Jeweller Starts Business via Instagram
  119. Concerns over conflict gold arise again
  120. The 1st International Gemstone & Diamond Trade Summit Wraps Up in Macao
  121. The Knot’s Study:Over 30% of Respondents Say Natural Diamond Unimportant
  122. Pantone’s 2022 Colour of the Year: Very Peri
  123. Phillips Jewellery Auctions Fetch over HK$181 Million
  124. The World’s First Pure Gold Castle of Magical Dreams by CHOW TAI FOOK
  125. Jewellery Sales Jumped 78% During the Thanksgiving Holiday
  126. Gem Auctions DMCC’s Debut Auction Successful
  127. Cartier’s Christmas Tree Lights Up the City with Love and Hope
  128. Rediscovering Lacloche in Hong Kong
  129. Blue diamonds to lead Christie’s HK autumn sale
  130. JMA show to stage next Thursday
  131. HK auction to help Cambodian kids
  132. Basel fair cancelled again
  133. HKDI show to continue in Dec
  134. Gemfields sells 7,500-carat emerald for good
  135. Sustainability is key to diamond purchases, a report says
  136. Christie’s Geneva jewellery sale fetches CHF53.7m
  137. Cibjo forms working group on fei cui standards
  138. Only Watch raises CHF30m for DMD research
Read More...


HIGHLIGHT

  1. US market unfolds changes and potential
  2. The queen of gems, the gem of queens
  3. Classics return

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  • A round and a mabe from Pteria sterna molluscs
  • Douglas McLaurin implants a bead and donor tissue into the gonads of an oyster. With a Masters of Science degree in Aquaculture, he is one of the original researchers who started the pearl culture operations in the Gulf of California as a university project.
  • Gold pendant in pearls and diamonds by Barbara Somlo
  • A selection of mabe pearls with violet overtones
  • Between 18 and 26 months after grafting, the pearl is removed from the oyster.經過18至26個月生成,珍珠可從珠蚌中取出。
  • The PMC operation is the only saltwater pearl farm in the Americas.
  • Workers are bringing the baskets to the surface to clean the oysters.
  • The rainbow-lipped Pteria sterna oyster with multi-coloured pearls

The queen of gems, the gem of queens

By Cynthia Unninayar

The Sea of Cortez, also known as the Gulf of California, separates the Baja California Peninsula — the second longest peninsula in the world — from the Mexican mainland. With approximately 4,000 kilometres of coastland, the gulf is one of the most diverse seas on the planet and is home to 5,000 species of micro-invertebrates. It is also home to a species of oyster, Pteria sterna, which produces pearls in a rainbow of colours.

During the Age of Discovery, European explorers searched the globe for untold treasures in lands across the oceans. One of the Spanish conquistadors was Hernán Cortés, who led the expedition that overthrew the Aztec empire in the early 16th century, winning Mexico for the crown of Spain. Among the riches he took back to Europe were pearls with the most intense colours ever seen.

These lustrous objects soon became New Spain’s most important export. Their prices exceeded that of the combined exports to the Old World of gold, silver and spices. Prized by queens, kings and nobility, these dark Mexican pearls were known as “The Queen of Gems and the Gem of Queens”.

To satisfy the growing demand in Europe, fishermen scoured the waters of the Gulf for the molluscs that produced these iridescent pearls. As a result of overfishing, the oyster beds were virtually depleted by the end of the 19th century and soon, thereafter, Mexican pearls basically disappeared from gem markets.

In an effort to save the industry, Gaston Vivés, a medical doctor of French origin, created an oyster farm near La Paz in 1903 — the same year that Japan’s Kochiki Mikimoto was perfecting his techniques for growing pearls. Vivés raised eight million black-lipped Pinctada mazatlanica oysters in a protected growing area. Unlike Mikimoto, Vivés did not implant them with beads to create pearls, but, since one in ten oysters, on average, produced a natural pearl, he obtained around 800,000 pearls a year. Alas, his farm was destroyed in 1914 — a casualty of the Mexican Revolution. In 1939, natural pearl fishing was banned altogether in an attempt to prevent the extinction of these unique molluscs.

Interest in the Sea of Cortez “gems” never dwindled, though, and experiments to cultivate nacreous pearls in Pinctada mazatlanica and Pteria sterna — the two species inhabiting the Gulf coastline — were conducted over the years. In 1993, four researchers (Sergio Farell, Manuel Nava, Douglas McLaurin and Enrique Arizmendi) from the Instituto Tecnologico de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey, ITESM, began cultivating pearls as a university project in Bacochibampo Bay near the city of Guaymas. Their efforts resulted in the successful harvesting of high-quality cultured pearls in the rainbow-lipped Pteria sterna oyster. T

his led, in 2000, to the establishment of a private company, Perlas del Mar de Cortez, in association with the ITESM. After the local ITESM closed in 2005, the original researchers took over the company and changed its name to Cultivadores Mexicanos de Perlas SC, while keeping the ‘Perlas del Mar de Cortez (PMC)’ as the brand name. It is the only saltwater cultured pearl farm in the Americas.

Since Mexican law prohibits the use of wild adult pearl oysters, pearl farming begins with the collection of spat. When molluscs reproduce, they release larvae into the water that swim around until they find a suitable structure to settle on. Once the larvae attach themselves permanently to a surface, they are called spat.

Workers at the farm collect the spat, which is later transferred to baskets where the baby oysters are protected and can feed on plankton in the waters of the gulf. After two years, a bead — 6mm to 10mm from a freshwater mollusc — and a piece of tissue from a donor oyster are grafted into the gonads of an oyster. It is then placed in a mesh basket and left in the ocean for another 18 to 26 months to ensure a good nacre thickness. Each oyster is cleaned five times a year by hand to keep it healthy.

At harvest, the average pearl size is about 9mm, with exceptional pearls reaching 12mm to 14mm. The colours range from opalescent silver, grey and gold/bronze to blue/cyan, emerald/olive green, violet and black, with various iridescent overtones of pink, purple, blue and green. Each pearl is unique and there are never two identical pearls. While some Sea of Cortez pearls resemble Tahitian cultured pearls, they can be distinguished by their distinctive red fluorescence under long-wave ultraviolet radiation. They also exhibit a greater range of iridescent colours, including some shades not shown by Tahitian cultured pearls.

The shimmering iridescent natural colours of Sea of Cortez pearls are not, in any way, enhanced. After removal from the shell, they are washed in water, soaked in mineral oil for six hours, and then dried. They are never subjected to bleaching, dyeing, coating or polishing. They are available in round, semi-round, baroque and drop shapes.

Only a small percentage of a harvest meets the required gem-quality criteria, which translates into about 4,000 pearls a year. This makes the Sea of Cortez pearls the rarest on Earth. If we compare their annual production to other types of pearls, we find: freshwater 1,800 tonnes; akoya 50 tonnes; Tahitian black pearls 12 tonnes; white and golden South Sea pearls 11 tonnes; Sea of Cortez pearls 0.004 tonnes or 4 kilograms. They are also the only pearls in the gem industry that qualify under the “Fair Trade Gems” protocol.

More than half of PMC’s production is sold locally, while other pearls are distributed by a few authorised dealers. The oyster meat is sold as food, considered a delicacy in the region, and the shells are made into buttons.

The company sells loose pearls as well as several lines of jewellery in classic and contemporary styles in silver and gold. It also produces mabe pearls, which are mostly set in silver by local silversmiths. (Photo courtesy: Perlas del Mar de Cortez unless otherwise specified)

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