Mabe pearls are basically cultured pearls grown in a special kind of mollusk – the Pteria penguin. These pearls grow at a specific area of the mollusk to produce a signature blister.
Mabe pearls are best suited as jewelry pieces since they have a flat base and can easily fit into various settings. Many luxury pearls with a centerpiece features one or more forms of mabe pearling.
Mabe pearls are ideal as jewelry pieces, items for art effects, and so much more. Jewelers and artisans can work mabe pearls into beautiful necklaces and other attractive items. But there’s so much more to know about mabe pearls if you ever want these stones to feature in your precious items collection.
That’s why this article provides all the essential details you need about mabe pearls, maintenance tips, how they form, origins, and other vital information.
History of Mabe Pearls
The first method of culturing mabe pearls was common in ancient China. Many artisans and jewelers of that time relied on the process to create pearls of different shapes and sizes in special mollusks. The process gained wide acceptance from 1000AD and many present-day pearl harvesters still rely on the procedure.
Chinese historians documented how to make pearls in Tiangong Kaiwu, a Chinese encyclopedia, in 1637. The process made its way to Europe through Silk Road trading and gained wide acceptance among pearl harvesters.
How are Mabe Pearls Made?
Mabe pearls have a layer of nacre – a combination of calcium carbonate and conchiolin – that forms around hard objects inserted into living freshwater or saltwater mollusk shells. But mabe pearls have some notable differences from other cultured pearls.
These pearls only form on the internal wall of a living mollusk. The pearls form outward from mollusks and grow into a dome shape with a flat bottom. Different materials can work to create mabe pearls; however, harvesters largely choose common items used to produce other cultured variants.
Uses of Mabe Pearls
Mabe pearls largely feature as adornments on jewelry. Skilled artisans also work mabe pearls into bead streaks in single or multiple colors. The dome shape on mabe pearls also makes them ideal decorative items on many objects.
Mabe pearls are useful in detailing ornaments, statues, artworks, and so much more. Many jewelers, artisans, and decorators prefer mabe pearls since they are easier to work with and offer better positioning than oval or round variants.
Chemical Properties of Mabe Pearls
- Main element formula: CaCO3, conchiolin (jointly called nacre)
- Cleavage: None
- Birefringence: 0.156
- Pleochroism: Nil
- Dispersion: Nil
- Fluorescence: Variable
- Density: 2.73 g/cm3
- Specific Gravity: 2.6 – 2.85 g/cm3
- Mohs Scale Rating: 2.5 – 4.5
- Refractive Index: 1.53 – 1.69
Maintenance Tips for Mabe Pearls
Proper storage is the easiest way to maintain mabe pearls. Mabe pearls are sensitive and don’t need too much contact with harsh chemicals, or they might lose their signature brilliance.
You can preserve the appearance of mabe pearls look with a polishing cloth. Use the polishing cloth to rub off dirt from your mabe pearls. You can also use a dry polishing cloth to remove oils or grime from mabe pearls while leaving a remarkable shine.
Don’t use jewelry cleaning solvents on mabe pearls. Most commercial jewelry cleaning solutions feature highly concentrated ammonia and could erode the surface of your gems.