What You Need to know about Akoya Pearls

Posted by Carla Grimaldi on

Akoya Pearls

By far the most popular of all pearl types, the akoya pearl is famous for its small, perfectly round shapes and bright, mirror-like luster.

Their amazing ability and consistency in producing near-perfect round cultured pearls make them ideal for adorning some of the world’s finest pearl jewellry.  

The Akoya pearl remains a pure symbol of elegance and beauty.

Ranging in size from 2.0-9.5mm, the akoya offers one of the most versatile and wardrobe ready looks of all pearl types. Akoya pearls are measured in half-millimeter increments; popular necklace and earring sizes are 7.0-7.5mm, 7.5-8.0mm and 8.0-8.5mm.
Cultured mainly in Japan and China, the bulk of akoya pearls measuring over 7.5-8.0mm are still farmed in Japan, which is still considered to be the very best in terms of akoya culturing and processing techniques. China has in recent years become highly skilled at culturing akoya pearls under the 7.5mm in size, and represents most of the yearly harvest for the smaller sizes today.

The akoya pearl oyster is nucleated only once or twice at a time due to its small size; the akoya oyster, Pinctada Fucata Martensii only reaches about 6 inches in diameter upon maturity and is the smallest of all pearl producing oysters.

A pearl surgical technician called the ‘grafter’, nucleates each oyster with a small, round mother-of-pearl bead and a 1.0mm square piece of donor mantle tissue from another oyster. The bead nucleus and tissue piece are stitched together and inserted into a small slit made in the gonad of the oyster; the nucleus is covered over and the oyster is set aside in a small recovery tank that allows the farmer to monitor the oyster’s progress. Two months later if all goes well, the oyster is transferred to the open ocean waters of the farm.

The growing cycle lasts anywhere from 12-18 months depending on the farmer’s preferences and prevailing conditions at the farm. The longer the oyster has had to accumulate nacre around the bead nucleus, the more lustrous and durable the pearl will be, so growth times of at least 12 months are desired.

Akoya pearl colors are soft pastels; the body color or main color of the pearls are white to grey, and common overtones or tints of color that show over the body color include rose, silver, cream and even green. Black akoya pearls are also widely available, these pearls are often dyed a solid blue-black or greenish-blue-black color; the result is a pearl with a jet-black body color with midnight blue overtones, and a very bright, ‘hard’ looking luster that is distinctive.There are also blue akoya pearls available today which display bright pink flashes; these are collector’s items and most of these pearls are baroque (not round and slightly asymmetrical) in shape. The softer, pastel shades allow the akoya pearl to be one of the most well-loved and versatile pearl types available to pearl lovers around the world.

In 1893 the first cultured Akoya pearl was made – an amazing achievement that created the cultured pearl industry we know today. In 1905 the world’s first spherical cultured Akoya pearl was born, down to the tireless research of Kokichi Mikimoto, and these amazing Japanese Akoya pearl oysters.

Akoya oysters, from the waters of Japan, live in shoals and in water depths of 1 – 5 metres. These calm seas have few large waves and mild temperatures of 15 to 23 degrees Celsius. These perfect oceanic climates attribute to the production of pearls with brilliant lustre and rich colours – the qualities the Akoya pearl has become renowned for.

Buying advice for Akoya pearls:

Being the smallest type of pearl (the most popular size for Akoya is 6-8mm), Akoya pearl jewellery is an excellent choice for first time buyers of pearl jewellery. Akoya pearls look great on everyone regardless of age; they can look sophisticated or youthful depending on how and by whom they are worn.

Many customers choose to start at small size Akoya pearls and then gradually increase, upgrading to large size Akoya pearls or higher grade.  Akoya pearl rings and pearl bracelets are among the most popular Akoya products, and often achieve a classic and timeless look.

La Mia Cara Jewelry - Unique and Assertive

La Mia Cara Jewelry - Unique and Assertive


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