Akoya pearls are bead-nucleated cultured pearls produced in the Pinctada fucata martensii and Pinctada fucata chemnitzii primarily in Japan, China, Vietnam, South Korea and Australia, with the majority of production (>95%) taking place in Japan.
The Classic Pearl
Renowned for their luster, akoya are considered the classic pearl. When one envisions a perfectly round, shiny white strand of pearls, one is almost certainly envisioning a strand of akoya pearls.
Akoya pearls were the first cultured pearls to be farmed using a bead and mantle tissue technique patented by Kokichi Mikimoto of Mie Prefecture, Japan, in 1916.
Akoya Pearl Colors
Akoya are generally white or cream colored, with overtone colors of rose, silver and cream. Non-white colors such as blue, silver-blue and yellow exist but are considered uncommon colors.
Treatments that are considered universal in akoya pearls are; maeshori, bleaching and pinking. Because these treatments are permanent and considered universal, they are not typically disclosed at the time of sale.
Untreated akoya pearls, such as natural white Hanadama pearls and natural color Vietnamese pearls are often described as such and always notated on certifications.
A fine strand of Japanese akoya pearls, image courtesy of Pearls of Joy.
Akoya Pearls, The Perfect Pearl For Jewelry
The akoya oyster is the smallest pearl-producing oyster used in pearl culture today, so akoya pearls also tend to be small, ranging in size from about 2 to 11 millimeters. They also tend to be the most consistently round and near-round pearls, making them ideal in terms of matching for multi-pearl jewelry such as strands and bracelets.
Most Often (but not always) a Round Pearl
Because the akoya pearl oyster is seeded with a round mother-of-pearl bead, akoya pearls are almost always round. Baroque akoya pearls do exist, however, and many of which are considered extraordinarily rare and valuable, exhibiting striking natural colors and thick nacre.
Rare baroque Vietnamese akoya, image courtesy of PearlParadise.com.
Related Articles and Forum Threads: