November 03, 2018

Sea of Cortez Showcase

Since our Exotic Strand Sale launch, my Sea of Cortez pearls have been flying out the door! 

And I’ve been getting a ton of questions about these rare pearls from everyone: what are they? What makes these pearls so special? Where do these pearls come from? 

Simply put, Sea of Cortez pearls are the Rarest Cultured Pearls in the World. 


There are less than 4,000 round and baroque pearls harvested each year. Now that may sound unimpressive, but you have to put that number in context to other pearl types to understand how small that actual amount is.

There are over 1,500 TONS of Freshwater pearls harvested each year. 

25 TONS of cultured saltwater Akoya pearls produced each year.

For Tahitian pearls, that figure is around 9 tons for yearly black pearl harvests.

Anyways, you get the idea – these pearls are RARE. Getting your hands on one – just one! – is akin to finding a jewelry quality pink conch pearl while fishing in the Caribbean. 

And like conch pearls, each Sea of Cortez pearl is a totally unique, one of a kind creation that should probably be mounted in a bespoke designer setting blazing with diamonds and plique a jour.

Natural Cortez Clam

A once in a lifetime beauty, courtesy of the Sea of Cortez pearl farm.

Where Do Sea of Cortez Pearls Come From?

Cortez Pearl Farm

The pearl farm that produces Sea of Cortez pearls lies on the vibrant bay of water the separates Baja from Mexico. 

The Gulf of California (also known as the Sea of Cortez) is home to a vast array of marine life, including the infamous Humboldt squid, blue whales, dolphins, sea lions and of course: pearl producing oysters! 

The Pteria sterna, or rainbow-lipped saltwater oyster is the oyster responsible for making the Americas famous as a pearl producing region – especially with the King and Queen of Spain. As the world’s only naturally occurring black pearl type (note that at the time, they were the ONLY black pearl producer as the Polynesian islands weren’t yet on the radar for Europe), the European monarchs financed hundreds of expeditions to dive for these stunning gems.

Pearlsmen Trio Farmer

Douglas McLaurin, the owner and operator of the Sea of Cortez Pearl Farm, is engaged in his life-long dream to restore Mexico’s pearls as one of the wonders of the world.

Sea of Cortez Pearls are Special!

Pternia Shell

Here’s the Pteria sterna shell, looking all polished and pretty! The scatter of pearls here shows off a really great example of the colors you can expect to see from Sea of Cortez pearls – Mauves, Violets, Dark Blues, lots of Aquamarine/Peacocks and more.

Cortez Trio

Check out these beauties from the farm’s 2016 Harvest! AND that Mother of Pearl – no wonder it’s called the Rainbow Lip shell! 

As a life-long colored gemstone lover, the Sea of Cortez pearls stand out above all other cultured pearls as having the most unique, naturally gorgeous colors I’ve ever seen.

Cortez Pendant Display

I only have a few pearls left out of the original batch Douglas originally sent me, and honestly I am SHOCKED they’re still here. So if you’ve fallen in love for these rare treasures, now is your chance to bring it home (and at 20% off, too)!

With the harvest figures for 2016 lower than usual, I may not get a chance to restock this year. So get yours now or maybe-possibly-horribly-I-hope-not-but forever hold your peace.

Some of the gorgeous gems I still have on hand are:

Sea of Cortez Trio

That Sea Foam Green and Rose pearl in the middle? To Die For Pretty!

The Rose and Violet colors of the pearl on the left I decided to enhance even more with Rose Gold, and the pearl on the right features the seen-only-on Sea of Cortez colors of Pale Blue and Violet with a romantic Tear Drop Shape. And only 2 pairs of pearl earrings left – but WOW.

Cortez Earrings

Are they gorgeous or what?! I don’t have to tell you how utterly RARE a pair of matched Sky Blue and Aquamarine Tear Drop Sea of Cortez pearls are, do I? The pair on the right (also amazing … these pearls are the color of a summer twilight) sold to a very lucky customer. 

The Mabé Collection

Loose Mabe Pearls

They’re HUGE. Like, literally. The sizes average out around 14.0mm to 16.0mm – which to me is the perfect size for a pearl pendant. And the Colors!!

Mabe Pearls on Driftwood

It’s a Color Junkie’s dream come true! 

I think some of these (especially the AAA Quality Mabés!) are like made out of actual rainbows.

Pternia Sterna Open

After seeing the interior of the Pteria sterna though, maybe we shouldn’t be all that surprised, huh? Here’s what we call a “raw shot” of the original batch I got:

AAA raw shot cortez

The intensity of colors just kills me … Even the AA+ lots are incredible:

AA Cortez Raw Shot

I just sent #6AA to its new home in New York yesterday and I definitely felt that little pang of sadness – I’d had my eye on it for a little while now. 

As a jeweler, you mostly learn to take these things in stride, but sometimes it still hurts to let such a thing of beauty go. 


Onto the full strand, right? I know you all have been waiting for it, and don’t want to sit around listening to my sob story about missing a mabé pendant!


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