One can safely say that the island of Mallorca is a gem. For its varied landscapes, made of secluded coves, olive fields and steep cliffs. But especially for one of its central crafts: Majorca pearls. “They are the most famous in the niche market of fake pearls or imitation,” says Jean Gautier, founder of netperles.com.
Recognized internationally, Mallorca pearls do not come directly from oysters but are manufactured exclusively in a workshop. The main pearl factories are placed near Manacor, the second largest city of Mallorca, and the capital Palma de Mallorca. “The first emerged in the late nineteenth century,” says Christine Duval, jewelry designer. The two most renowned manufacturers are still installed in Manacor.
The first factory, Majorica, was built in 1890 by German engineer Eduard Heusch under the name of “Spanish Industry of manufacture of artificial pearls”. Today it offers tourists to visit its workshops.
At Montuïri, about twenty kilometers inland, visitors enter the factory Orquidea. Much newer, as it was created in 1950, its fame is however just as important. In the middle of old tools and antiquated machinery, the manufacturing of Majorca pearls are explained in detail.
“Initially, it was crystal beads, explains Alberto Mora Forgas, CEO of Orquidea. They are then immersed in baths whose main ingredient is made from fish scales.” The more pearls go in these tanks, the better quality of the beads and they will seem like a natural pearl.
Depending on the desired quality, “the beads are dipped 12, 16 or 34 times in this essence,” he says. “Some perform sanding after drying each of their layers, explains Jean Gautier. This technique aims to obtain a perfect sphere with intense luster and evident brilliance.”
At the end of this long process, the beads become necklaces, bracelets or earrings. Sold everywhere on the island of Majorca, they are also exported for many years.
Proof of boundless enthusiasm: “Compared with real pearls, they are much cheaper, says Alberto Mora Forgas. Today, our factory has more than 1,000 outlets in five continents. “