I am pleased to currently be working on a collection using La Paz Pearls from the Sea of Cortez in Baja California, Mexico - the same pearls that were sent to Spain for the crown jewels by the early conquistadors but that almost disappeared. They are now being brought back from near extinction by a pearl farm in La Paz and are very prestigious finds. The La Paz pearls are among the rarest of pearls marketed today because of their scarcity.
The pearls I use are called “mabés”. A mabé is a half pearl and I use beaded bezels to incorporate them into my necklaces and silver bezels for pendants and clasps.
The pearls from La Paz were the fame and glory of Baja California for over four centuries, prized all over the world for their beauty, especially by the royalty of Europe. They all but disappeared because of greed and overexploitation.
Originally, the pearls from this area were used as necklaces and hair ornaments by the pre-Colombian people of the Baja California peninsula. Unfortunately, once Hernan Cortez arrived in 1535, the exquisite beauty of the La Paz pearls (unique colors and high quality of the nacre) made them victims of greed and worldwide demand and the natural pearl oyster beds were overexploited almost to the extinction by the end of the 19th century. In 1939, the Mexican government moved to protect the endangered pearl oysters and pearl fishing was banned.
Since the 1950's, Mexican scientists from several universities have sought to revive the lost tradition of the pearls from La Paz by researching and developing methods of culturing the pearls. The pearl farm where my pearls come from, Pearls of La Paz, is located in La Paz, Baja California Sur, Mexico and was established in 1999.