I’m sure she’s exaggerating, but I do get a bit obsessive, which is how we found ourselves at Perlas del Mar de Cortez talking to one of the owners and founders, Douglas McLaurin about black pearls in the Sea of Cortez. You may recall the story about the pearls Meri and I found in Santa Rosalia. Well, we dispatched with that mystery rather easily: A quick look under a long wave ultraviolet light proved they weren’t Cortez Pearls (Sea of Cortez pearls contain porphyrins which make them glow), a few other simple checks and it was confirmed--we own freshwater pearls from China, dyed using dubious methods and sold around the world…
The good news is McLaurin broke this bad news in the middle of a showroom that contains some of the most beautiful gems I’ve ever seen. And as he told us story of how the pearl showroom came to be, it was almost hard to concentrate on his words (I think I'm part magpie...).
|a mabe pearl in a designer setting (they also have pearls in simple silver settings for people who don't have designer budgets...)|
|A gem-quality cultivated pearl|
The students decided that the only way they could respond to their poor grade was to prove their teachers wrong. With no resources and only a limited idea of what they were doing they began a research project—which to everyone’s shock yielded pearls.
The three continued to farm: learning by trial and error, one year loosing 90% of the farm to a hurricane.
|Cortez Pearls employs 18 people, including several Yaqui--the original pearlers|
The truth in this fairytale is the pearls themselves: During harvest in July and August the farmers open the oysters which have been growing for four years. Just a fraction contain pearls. Of that number only a fraction are gem quality (the rest are returned to the sea). And of those gems, once in a while one comes along that makes Mclaurin (who by now has seen more pearls than he can count) forget every other pearl he’s ever seen.
**I don’t normally make a pitch for a place this way, but this is a truly unique farm run by some very special people. If you have an attachment to the Sea and want to support what these guys are doing now is the time to buy a keepsake. Between the drug war cutting off tourists and the economic downturn, they are hurting. http://www.perlasshop.com/