Mexico’s Black Pearls

Perlas del Mar de Cortez, the first modern commercial cultured saltwater pearl farm in North America, has harvested its fourth crop of pearls, and the results are dramatic. "This harvest shows more colors than previous harvests, only including pearls from the rainbow-lipped oysters Pteria sterna," says company co-founder Enrique Arizmendi Castillo, M.Sc., a pearl culture specialist. He says the colors are strikingly different from those seen in 2001, "with almost no golden pearls. New this year are coppery and purple tones." The cultured Mexican blacks, trademarked "Sea of Cortez Cultured Pearls," have a coloration similar to that of Tahitian pearls. They are grown mostly in rainbow-lipped oysters and a few indigenous Panamic black-lipped oysters (Pinctada mazatlanica, which is similar to the Tahitian Pinctada margaritifera). The pearls are grown in Bacochibampo Bay, near the city of
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