Black Lip Oyster – Pteria Penguin
Pteria is a genus of winged oyster closely related to Pinctata that also
produces commercial quantities of pearls.
Winged oysters are edible but unpalatable, and seldom produce
precious pearls. It is a tropical species, with pearly interiors
and long, wing-like projections of the hinge, have fragile shells. Winged
oysters are found naturally on rocks and coral near channels and capes
where the current runs fast and they attach themselves to the ocean bottom
and to wharf pilings.
Ptaria Penguin is a major source of Mabe Pearl production. Mabe
pearls have a characteristic semispherical shape and unique rainbow-like
luster and are a cultured half pearl, formed by inserting a half-sphere
between the mantle and the shell. Since Mabe pearl oysters do
not clump and their population is small, it is difficult to obtain a lot
of mother oysters. Pearl culturing using natural oysters was conducted
on a small scale. The first established artificial breeding techniques
for the Mabe pearl oysters were established in 1970.
The Mabe pearl oyster, Pteria Penguin that grows up to 20-30
cm in diameter is also called “the penguin wing oyster” from its shape
like a wing. They commonly display a silver color under the oyster muscle
with a rich mauve, gold banding towards the black/brown outer-lip. All
semispherical “half-pearls” used to be called “Mabe”, however, only pearls
come from the Pteria penguin are called “Mabe pearls” now. The Mabe oyster
produces a brilliant nacre with a rainbow-like spectrum of hues, and the
Mabe pearls produced from this nacre, which sizes are 12-20mm in diameter,
possess a uniquely penetrating brilliance, with hues ranging from light
pink through deep rose-red to a "rainbow" pink.
Sometimes the pearls have gold-pink or other hues of high rarity.
This rich variety of lustrous hues combines with nacreous layers of a
rarely seen fineness of texture to give the Mabe pearl its perennial appeal
and make it our original, popular product.
It can be found from the Red Sea in the east to the western tropical
Pacific and from the southern islands of Japan in the north to
the southern waters of Australia. Mabe pearl producing countries are Japan,
Hong Kong, Indonesia, Thailand and Malaysia.
Paua Abalone – Haliotis Iris
Paua Abalone are cultured today for both pearls and mother-of-pearl but
is largely a by-product of the seafood industry.
Paua abalone is also known as Rainbow Abalone. It is most commonly
found along the shores of New Zealand and in rare occasions, as far north
as the Philippines. The outside of the shell is rough and dull; and attracts
various species of seaweed and tube-building worms, which accumulate on
the outside of the shell. The inside is a beautiful blend of colors. The
animal that lives inside this shell is black and it is the foot of the
animal that is edible and marketed in many countries. The word Paua is
actually Maori (a tribe in New Zealand) for Abalone. Abalone shells belong
to the family Haliotidae and are nicknamed sea ears for their oval shape.
Because of the beauty of this shell and its relative thinness, paua shell
tends to be more expensive. Paua can be differentiated from other abalone
species by its bright, deep, irridesint colors that are most desirable
in dark blues and purples and greens. Violets and yellows are considered
less desirable. The shell is most commonly used in jewelry as well as
inlays in such items as furniture and guitars.
Gold Lip Oyster – Pinctada Maxima
Sometimes called White or Silver Lipped Oyster
Pinctada is a genus of pearl oysters. These are saltwater clams,
marine bivalve mollusks of the genus Pinctada in the family Pteriidae.
They have a strong inner shell layer composed of nacre, also known as
mother of pearl.
All species within the genus Pinctada share the physiological
properties that can lead to the production of large pearls of commercial
value, and therefore attempts have been made to harvest pearls commercially
from many different Pinctada species. This is the largest oyster species
that grows up to 20-30cm in diameter. It occurs naturally only in the
warm tropical South Pacific waters of the Arafura Sea (off Northern Australia),
Eastern and Northern Indonesia, the Philippines, Malaysia, Myanmar and
Northern Thailand and to the east to Fiji and Tahiti. Pinctada Maxima
can be broadly divided into two types based on the color of the shell’s inside, the silver-lipped and the gold-lipped. They are the source of larger White South Sea pearls more than 10 mm in diameter, with some as large as 16-17mm with a weight of 7grams. Australia and Indonesia are the main pearl producers, accounting for over 90% of production between them. White South Sea pearls are also produced in the Philippines, Thailand, Malaysia, Myanmar, and the Amami-Oshima Islands of Japan. White South Sea pearls have thick nacre and many gorgeous hues like silver white, pink and gold.
Spiney Oyster – Spondylus Princeps Broderip
Spiney Oyster, Spondylus Princeps Broderip is found in the Sea of Cortez,
Baja California, Mexico. It appears in lower Baja California Sur Mexico.
It was discovered in 1976 and began to be exported for jewelry making
use in the Southwest by Indian Crafts people. The shell comes in a variety
of colors but mainly in red, orange, and purple; sometimes yellow and
white. Spondylus Calcifer commonly called Giant Pacific Rock Oyster is
a purple that is found in water from 0-60 ft. After 60ft of water the
white Spondylus appears and goes down to 90ft of water. After 90ft of
water the reds and the oranges appear. The name Spondylus is a Latin word
that means spines on it's back. Broderip was the name of the Scientist
who traveled with Cortez when Baja California was discovered and explored.
The name Princep was given to this shell because when Cortez presented
his marine discovers to the king of Spain who financed his expedition,
the kings daughter fell in love with the shell. Therefore, the shell was
named the after the Princess. There are many species of Spondylus, and
they vary considerably in appearance and range. They are grouped in the
same superfamily as the scallops, but like the true oysters (family Ostreidae)
they cement themselves to rocks, rather than attaching themselves by a
byssus. Their key characteristic is that the two parts of their shells
are hinged together with a ball and socket type of hinge, rather than
a toothed hinge as is more common in other bivalves. Spondylus have multiple
eyes around the edges of the shell, and they have a relatively well developed
nervous system. Their nervous ganglia are concentrated in the visceral
region, with recognisable optic lobes, connected to the eyes. Spondylus
princeps are also found off the coast of Ecuador, and have been important
to Andean peoples since pre-Columbian times, serving as offerings to the
Pachamama as well as some kind of currency. In fact much like in Europe
the Spondylus shells also reached far and wide as pre-Hispanic Ecuadorian peoples traded them with peoples as far north as present-day Mexico and as far south as the central Andes. The Moche people of ancient Peru worshipped animals and the sea and often depicted Spondylus shells in their art.