| Hong Kong Jewellery 香港珠寶
Search
News & Highlight

News

  1. WJA Foundation Launches New Scholarship for Women of Colour
  2. Blue Nile Merges with Mudrick for Its Second IPO
  3. RJC Launches ‘Gender Equality Toolkit’ at JCK Las Vegas
  4. GIA Reports to Go Digital by 2025
  5. Gemfields Achieved Highest Revenue at Emerald Auction
  6. DAMAC Group Now Owns de GRISOGONO
  7. GJEPC Proposes Lab-Grown Diamond Park in India
  8. Pandora’s New Crafting Facility in Vietnam Costs $100M
  9. Q1 Gold Jewellery Demand Soft, Says WGC
  10. Jewellery Buying Groups Formed New Global Alliance
  11. Singapore to Host Jewellery & Gem World 2022
  12. ‘Wonder Woman’ Gal Gadot Premiered in Tiffany’s 2022 High Jewellery Collection
  13. Christie’s to Auction ‘The Light of Africa’ for $18M in June
  14. New Board of Directors were elected to Jewellery Exporters Association of Turkey
  15. Oroarezzo back with Première Competition
  16. ‘De Beers Blue’ auctions US$57.5M at Sotheby’s
  17. CTF launches Mother’s Day collection
  18. Jewelers of America Announces The 2022 CASE Award Winners
  19. De Beers: Diamond Businesses Staying Cautious About Business Expectations
  20. Synthetic Alexandrite Pioneer David Patterson Dies at 89
  21. 205 CARAT FANCY INTENSE YELLOW DIAMOND GENEVA MAGNIFICENT JEWELS | 11 MAY 2022
  22. Rebecca Foerster Appointed As President of Hearts On Fire
  23. US Steps Up Sanctions Against Alrosa
  24. PGI Study Findings: Consumers Have Different Interpretations of Sustainability
  25. Irving Wong Appointed as Pandora’s General Manager For China
  26. Rolex’s 6 New Watches Unveiled at Watches & Wonders Geneva
  27. Sixième Sens par Cartier High Jewellery: Heteractis Ring
  28. Will Russian Diamond Ban Help Foster Lab-Grown Diamond Business?
  29. Press Release: Ariana DeBose, Hunter Schafer and Zoey Deutch Shine in De Beers Jewellers at the Vani
  30. Press Release: Ariana DeBose, Hunter Schafer and Zoey Deutch Shine in De Beers Jewellers at the Vani
  31. JEWELLERY GENEVA Takes Place between 30 March and 3 April 2022
  32. Christie’s Presents 228 carat White Dimond
  33. Gold Bar Integrity Programme to be Implemented
  34. Press Release: BONHAMS ANNOUNCES ACQUISITION OF BRUUN RASMUSSEN AUCTIONEERS – DENMARK’S LEADING AUCT
  35. Early Spring Fashion for Natural Diamonds
  36. Jennifer Garner Shines in De Beers Jewellers at the Premiere in New York
  37. To celebrate its 15th anniversary, “Cartier Women’s Initiative Impact Report”
  38. American Gem Trade Association Announces Partnership with JCK Show Again
  39. Chow Tai Fook and Canada's Mountain Province Diamonds Sign Supply Agreement
  40. Registration Is Open for 2022 JCK Show
  41. Alrosa Caught Up in U.S. Sanctions
  42. Tawhid Abdullah Receives Lifetime Achievement Award
  43. The Largest Blue Diamond Appears at Sotheby’s Auction
  44. Price Rise for Nearly 90% Of Fancy Colour Last Year
  45. Dickson Yewn’s Collectibles Given for Sotheby’s Charity Auction
  46. De Beers Boosts Production
  47. Watches & Wonders Geneva To Be Held In Hybrid Format
  48. Jewellery, Gem & Technology Dubai to Debut February
  49. Hong Kong Losing its Dominance as the World's Largest Watch Market
  50. Gift Guide for CNY
  51. Press Release: Sotheby’s Announces New Appointments To Luxury Team In ASsia
  52. Georg Jensen Becomes a Certified Member of RJC
  53. 555.55-carat Black Dimond Unveiled at Sotheby’s Auction
  54. GIA Appoints Anna Martin as SVP for Institute, Industry Relations
  55. Alrosa Boosts Direct Sales of Fancy Diamonds to Investors
  56. CIBJO General Assembly postponed to March 17 and 18, 2022
  57. 7,525 Carat Emerald Discovered
  58. Karl Lagerfeld Jewellery Collections to Shine
  59. Diamonds Travel To The Space
  60. Vicenzaoro January postponed to March
  61. America’s Youngest Jeweller Starts Business via Instagram
  62. Concerns over conflict gold arise again
  63. The 1st International Gemstone & Diamond Trade Summit Wraps Up in Macao
  64. The Knot’s Study:Over 30% of Respondents Say Natural Diamond Unimportant
  65. Pantone’s 2022 Colour of the Year: Very Peri
  66. Phillips Jewellery Auctions Fetch over HK$181 Million
  67. The World’s First Pure Gold Castle of Magical Dreams by CHOW TAI FOOK
  68. Jewellery Sales Jumped 78% During the Thanksgiving Holiday
  69. Gem Auctions DMCC’s Debut Auction Successful
  70. Cartier’s Christmas Tree Lights Up the City with Love and Hope
  71. Rediscovering Lacloche in Hong Kong
  72. Blue diamonds to lead Christie’s HK autumn sale
  73. JMA show to stage next Thursday
  74. HK auction to help Cambodian kids
  75. Basel fair cancelled again
  76. HKDI show to continue in Dec
  77. Gemfields sells 7,500-carat emerald for good
  78. Sustainability is key to diamond purchases, a report says
  79. Christie’s Geneva jewellery sale fetches CHF53.7m
  80. Cibjo forms working group on fei cui standards
  81. 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

Advertisement

  • 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)

← Back