The Blister Pearls or 'Half Pearls'
Mabe Pearls are 'half pearls' or 'blister pearls' that grow attached to the inside shell of a mollusk. They are also known as dome, button or assembled pearls.
The oyster that generally creates these pearls is the 'Pteria Penguin,' the black-winged pearl oyster. Because Mabe Pearls grow attached to the inside of the oyster shell, they develop a distinctive flat base and semi-sphere shape. Additional support is sometimes added to the pearl structure once it is removed from the oyster. These pearls typically range 20-25 millimeters in diameter.
Mabe Pearls are produced in saltwater oysters in the regions of Japan, Indonesia, Australia and French Polynesia. It may take anywhere from two to six years for each pearl's production, depending on the desired size.
Once the Mabe Pearl has developed, workers cut the pearl out of the shell with a circle-bit drill. The nucleus is removed and replaced with resin and the back is capped off with a piece of mother-of-pearl to complete the Mabe Pearl.
Mabe Pearls have high luster and are typically less expensive than their fully spherical counterparts. Thanks to it's flat back, these pearls are perfect for earrings and rings.