The Concho River Pearl: A Beautiful Texas Enigma That Adorns Many a Sweetheart’s Ring Finger

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Treasured by Texas jewelers, the Concho River pearl is produced by mussels found around San Angelo in the river of the same name, and unlike the round, white ones normally valued for pearl jewelry, they come in irregular shapes, sizes, and colors, from an array of light pink through deep purple. Legend has it that Spanish Captains Hernan Martin and Diego del Castillo were sent to explore what was then called the “Río de las Nueces” (Nut River) in 1650 (believed to refer to the Concho River), coming across these gems with the help of Native Americans in the area.

For close to 35 years, it’s believed that the Jumano nation made active efforts using the discovery of the pearls to try and entice the Spaniards to establish settlements and missions in the area to assist in protecting them from the Apache, to little avail. For who would guess that in West Texas, of all places, such a special gem could be found? San Angelo pearl dealers value them highly, and there are presently a small number of such stores in the area that craft and sell jewelry from the Concho River pearls, accented with gold, silver, and sometimes diamonds, depending on the unique settings required.

The Concho River Pearl: A Beautiful Texas Enigma That Adorns Many a Sweetheart’s Ring Finger
Photo: Facebook/Teresa Adams

The city of San Angelo also honors the precious stone with a sculpture that was set in front of the San Angelo Museum of Fine Arts, in the very middle of the Concho River, called Pearl of the Conchos. It depicts a life-sized mermaid who holds a shell with a Concho pearl in her hand. And the pearls are in quite high demand from both tourists and locals, be they as souvenirs or as legitimate gems in jewelry settings. Due to persistent drought conditions and reduced water levels, however, the pearls are getting harder to come by.

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