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Mabe Pearl Jewelry

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Mabe Pearls: a dramatic dome

With its showy, oversized shape and shimmering rainbow-like luster, a mabe pearl offers the look of a South Sea pearl for a fraction of the price.

The mabe pearl gets its name from the type of mollusk in which it is grown, the Pteria penguin, which is called "mabe-gai" in Japanese. A mabe pearl is actually a cultured blister pearl that is grown differently than other cultured pearls. Instead of being grown inside the body of a mollusk creature, a mabe pearl is grown against the inside of the shell. This allows the mabe pearl to develop a dome shape with a flat back, and is why mabe pearls are sometimes referred to as "half pearls".

To create a mabe pearl, a hemispherical nucleus is inserted into the shell beneath the mantle tissue. The mollusk is then returned to the water to allow layers of lustrous nacre to develop. After many, many months, the blister pearl is cut away from the inner shell, the nucleus is removed and the hollow cavity is backed by a mother-of-pearl plate.

Even with the help of man, creating a mabe pearl is a time consuming process. Just the craft of seeding a mabe oyster takes years of training to master. However, the glistening, iridescent mabe pearls are well worth the wait.

MABE PEARLS: With their big, showy dome, mabe pearls offer all the glamour of South Sea pearls at a much more affordable price. Cultivated with a flat back, mabe pearls are a favorite for fine earrings, rings and pendants.

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