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

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Found only in the Tampico pearly mussel of the Concho River, with only approximately four in every 100 of them producing pearls, due to a peak in interest through the 1980s, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department began licensing for commercial mussel collection, resulting in a present licensed list of only eight commercial musselers in Texas. Due to the fact that freshwater mussels have been declining, the state stopped issuing commercial collection licenses in 2006, with no future plans to issue any further.

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

Photo: Facebook/Jolene Haney to Texas Naturalist & Natural History

The city traces its current small pearl industry roots to a fellow by the name of Bart Mann, who was a custom jeweler in the 1950s who found thousands of the pearls and kept them around as oddities prior to designing jewelry with them and developing an international following. After that, pearl “hunters” from across Texas pounced on San Angelo in search of the gems, and a niche industry was born. Today, however, almost every jeweler in San Angelo dealing with Concho River pearl jewelry has family or personal ties to Bart Mann’s original operation.

Because of the uniqueness of each pearl, jewelers that specialize in them will custom-design around the pearl itself as opposed to trying to fit the gems into rings, pendants, and the like. Many attribute the size and shape of the pearls to the mineral content in the river or the traits of the mussel they come from. Whatever the logic, if there is such a thing, the Concho River pearl is a gem of Texas that many have a special place in their heart for, as well as their next beautiful and imaginative jewelry setting!


Legend Jewelers


Texas Beyond History

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