The New World of Cultured Abalone Pearls
Abalone pearls are a rare natural pearl. The mollusk, Haliotis is the mother to these iridescent pearl. But she is unable to clot her wounds and thus it is impossible to implant a nucleus to culture a pearl. She would die of bleeding, as a hemophiliac.
In the recent issue of This Is Pearl, Douglas McLaurin-Moreno wrote about successful efforts to culture the Haliotis mollusk in Chile. With this outstanding breakthrough in the world of pearl culturing, Chilean scientists at the University of Antofagasta have been able to culture bead nucleated abalone pearls in the red abalone Haliotis rufescens.
Chile has historically been a major producer of abalone meat from the large foot of the Haliotis mollusk. About 10 years ago, they began experimenting with culturing mabe pearls. Mabe pearls are cultured on the inside of the shell and are half pearls or blister pearls. The nucleus is not inserted into the body of the abalone so there would be no bleeding and no wound to heal.
Dr. Valencia of the Antofagasta program has been able to successfully culture roundish abalone pearls through a delicate surgical procedure. These pearls have all the desirable characteristics of the lustrous blue green color with lavender overtones and some dark spots of protein.
Amazingly, Dr. Valencia's abalone death rate is only 1% with 35% rejection of the nucleus. This is comparable to other pearl nucleation numbers.
This development of culturing abalone pearl will have new design impacts on the world of one of a kind pearl jewelry. Look for it soon.