November 03, 2018

Sea of Cortez Mabé Pearls: Behind the Scenes!

Sea of Cortez

I’ve absolutely fallen in love with the mabé pendant design that our goldsmith was able to create for us! We decided against going with a full bezel, which is how mabé pearls are traditionally set. 

Sea of Cortez Mabe Pendants

The Sea of Cortez mabé pearl pendants for PurePearls.com have been custom designed exclusively for us!
For those not familiar with our jewelry-speak, a bezel-setting is a mounting that surrounds the pearl, diamond or gemstone with gold all the way around the circumference of the gem. The full-bezel setting is very secure and will protect the gem from all harm, but we think this open cradle allows the mabé pearl to stand out as the true star of the show without covering it up with gold.
 
As one of my favorite customers told me: “They are LOVELY Ashley, and I after actually seeing them, I agree with your goldsmith that a Bezel around these would have been too much. These mabes are too delicate for that. “ I couldn’t agree more!
 
I thought it would be fun to take you behind the scenes to see how this design came to life! Enjoy the show!
Sea of Cortez Unique Shape
Sea of Cortez Loose Mabé Pearls. Each Sea of Cortez mabé pearl has its own completely unique shape and size.
Some of our mabés are perfectly symmetrical tear drops, while others are more amorphous. Shapes include ovals, oblongs and even nearly perfect circles, so it was impossible to use just any pendant mounting for these mabé pearls; we needed a custom design that would be able to fit each pearl and showcase it on its own merits.
 
We quickly sketched out a design template on a piece of scratch paper (I wish I’d kept it! Usually I keep all my drawings, but this one was tossed pretty quickly!). We knew we needed a versatile design that would fit each mabé’s shapes securely, and that would be able to be fitted to each one’s specific dimensions.
Wax Hold
Wax carving of the open-bezel pendant - this is the first step in creating a custom design pendant
Wax Custom Pendant
The mabé pendant fits snugly in the wax carving.
This is the finished wax cast which we used to cast each pendant mounting. We created one solitaire and one that included a bezel-set diamond accent at the top. The back of the mabé pendants is really clever, take a look:
Pendant Backing
The Sea of Cortez Mabé Pendant Backing
This sturdy ‘X’ shape in the back leads down to the bottom half-bezel holding the mabé pearl, while the top branches lead to the prongs. The bale is set independently for freer movement of the pendant.
 
Once the mounting has been cast in gold (we used 14k white, yellow and rose gold), the mounting is handed off to our goldsmith for setting and polishing.
Goldsmith
Our goldsmith, Mark, hard at work at his bench mounting one of the Sea of Cortez mabé pearls in its new mounting.
Making sure that the pearl is sitting properly in its cradle, he begins tightening the upper prongs of the pendant.  
He also checks to make sure that the bezel-set diamond is perfectly secure.
Diamond Fitting Goldsmith
Before sending the pendant back to us, he needs to give each mounting a final polish. Mark does this with a series of polishing wheels that have progressively finer grit so the pendants have a beautiful, high polish shine on every part of the mounting.
Goldsmith South Sea Custom
Shine Goldsmith
This is one of our newest Sea of Cortez mabé pearls in a 14K Rose Gold and Diamond setting. The finished pendant is already here and ready to be photographed.
Photos Sea of Cortez
Shooting the mabé pearls was more complicated than I expected! I used my handy jar of museum wax (you can see it to the bottom left) to fix the pearl pendants in place to create the glamour shots for our email blasts and promotions.
Pendant Photography
Here’s an up-close picture of one of the layouts I created for our Sea of Cortez promotion… You can see my piece of driftwood in the background which makes for an excellent prop! I snapped these pictures using my camera phone, so the quality isn’t great, but you get an idea of what goes on when we start taking product shots. 
Sea of Cortez Pendant
Another great Sea of Cortez mabé pearl layout from the photoshoot.
Hanging Pendant Display
Taking product shots of each Sea of Cortez mabé pearl pendant for the site. You can see the bits of left over wax on the white bottom of the lightbox where I anchored the pendants. I send all of the raw pictures to our retoucher, who gives them a white background which is suitable for the site.
Final Sea of Cortez Product
And that’s it! The whole ‘behind the scenes’ show! I find the actual process behind jewelry creation utterly fascinating, and I hope you enjoyed it, too. If you have any questions about our new Sea of Cortez Mabé Pendant Collection, feel free to leave a comment below.
~Ashley

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