This variety of cultured pearl is also known as a "Half-Pearl" or "Blister Pearl" and these are produced by attaching at least one (sometimes up to 10) nucleus (usually a hemispherical shaped piece of plastic or shell, but the shape can be almost any: heart, teardrop, square, cross, etc.) between the oyster's shell and the pearl oyster's mantle (this is the organ that secretes the mother-of-pearl shell). The oyster's reaction to this "intruder" is to coat it up with nacre (the substance that makes up a pearl) to "protect" itself.
After a culture period of some 6 to 24 months (depending on the country of production or species used) the oyster is harvested and the Mabe pearls are found attached to the oyster's shell, so they are cut from it with the help of lapidary equipment, the nucleus is removed and the remaining piece, a hollow dome of nacre, is filled with epoxy resin and a "backing" made of mother-of-pearl shell is put on the underside. Thus a fully processed mabe is ready to set into jewelry. Mabe pearls are sometimes called "Composite Pearls" because of the way they are presented to the jeweler, designer or buyer: a pearl made up of three different parts - a pearly hemisphere, the epoxy resin and the mother of pearl shell backing.
Mabe are easier to obtain -when compared to loose cultured pearls- thus their price is usually lower than most cultured pearls, but they can also reach very big sizes and can make a very good fashion statement when used in conjunction with other pearl jewelry. Sea of Cortez Mabe Pearls can be found in a surprising variety of special and unusual shapes and coloration, thus making them very appropriate for jewelry designers that want to produce unique creations.