Cortez Pearls | Gemopedia

Emerging once more from the clear waters of the Gulf of California, after decades of protection, is Mexico's most emblematic gem: 'New World Black Pearls'. In 1533, the Spanish Conqueror Hernan Cortez sent the very first expeditions into the area to find the mythical "Sea of Pearls." Soon, the area known as the "Vermillion Sea of Cortez" - that we officially know as the Gulf of California - produced one of the finest known pearls in the world, the Cortez Pearl. These prized gems became New Spain's most important export product, with a price so high that their value was more than double of that of all other combined exports to the Old Continent: gold, silver and spices. It was at this moment in time when Mexican black pearls came to be known as the 'Queen of Gems' and the 'Gem of Queens', adorning European nobility like never before. Back from a 400 year reign and near extinction, are a new generation of Cortez Pearls being cultivated from the same highly-priced oysters of Mexico.
Alternate
Names
Rainbow Pearls
Colors
Purple, Rose, Silvery Blue, Pink, White, Gold

Cortez Pearls Classification

Common Name

Cortez Pearls

Species

NA

Variety

Colors

Purple, Rose, Silvery Blue, Pink, White, Gold

Alternate Names

Rainbow Pearls

Gemstone Groups

Key Separations

Appearance, RI, birefringence blink and magnification. A "tooth test" is commonly used in which a pearl is rubbed against a tooth; if gritty, this is an indication that the surface is nacre, versus plastic and glass imitations that feel smooth.

Comments

Cortez pearls are produced by the Rainbow lipped pearl oyster Pteria sterna.

Cortez Pearls Optical Properties

Transparency

Translucent - Opaque

Refractive Index

1.53-1.685

Birefringence

0.155

Optic Character

Optic Sign

Polariscope Reaction

Aggregate (AGG)

Fluorescence

SWUV:
LWUV: Black pearls will fluoresce hot pink to magenta

CCF Reaction

Pleochroism

None

Dispersion

Comments

Cortez Pearls Chemistry & Crystallography

Chemical Name

calcium carbonate + conchiolin and water

Chemical Formula

CaCO3

Synthesis

Crystal System

NA

Classification

Organic

Nature

Cultured

Crystallinity

Comments

Cortez Pearls Characteristic Physical Properties

Hardness

2.5-4

Streak

Specific Gravity

2.72-2.78

Toughness

Good

Inclusions

Luster

Dull

Stability

Poor

Fracture

Uneven

Cleavage

None

Comments

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