Hanadama is Japanese for Spherical Flower and is the term used to describe the highest quality and most highly valued pearls from any given harvest. These pearls are separated from typical class grading prior to auction and are sold as individually separated lots.
What Are Hanadama Pearls?
Although there is no standardized, definitive grading system in use today, that accurately represents and compares the value characteristics of akoya pearls, there is a one-word description of the best akoya pearl produced today: Hanadama.
Hanadama is a Japanese word meaning spherical flower. This is the name given to the highest-quality percentage of production by the founder of the cultured akoya pearling industry, Kokichi Mikimoto. The Hanadama grade is still used to this day to designate the absolute best of each akoya pearl harvest by the world's best-known pearl companies.
Fine hanadama akoya pearls, courtesy of PearlParadise.com.
Hanadama Pearls Are The Best
Hanadama means the best or the highest quality range akoya pearls. There cannot be a better grade. Even when comparing two strands of hanadama pearls, while one may be slightly superior, it will still be hanadama.
If a dealer attempts to entice a buyer with an akoya pearl strand that is superior to Hanadama, the seller likely does not understand the principles of Hanadama.
Count the Pearls
Pearls cannot be laser inscribed the way diamonds are, and there are unscupulous vendors who may switch strands after certification. Most strands will vary by four to five pearls, so switched strands will most often have a different number of pearls from what is depicted in the photo on the certificate.
Hanadama Certificates Defined
The Hanadama certification is given by the Pearl Science Laboratory of Japan; located in Tokyo, Japan. A strand of pearls cannot be referred to as Hanadama unless accompanied by this certificate. The original certificate must accompany the strand; otherwise the strand is not Hanadama.
The Pearl Science Laboratory performs several tests on random pearls throughout the strand to determine its overall grade. The pearl surface is magnified and checked for inclusions. The nacre quality and depth is checked, by utilizing optical fibers and x-rays. The luster is determined by comparison. If all tests are performed and every value factor exceeds or meets the criteria, the strand is deemed Hanadama grade. It is important to note that only approximately half of the strands submitted for Hanadama analysis are accepted as such by the Pearl Science Laboratory.
How Hanadama Pearls Are Graded And Selected
The grading is not subjective, and must meet the following criteria:
- The nacre depth must not show to be less than .40 mm on any randomly tested pearl
- The teri-value analysis, (luster analysis) must be strong
- Imperfection grade must read very slightly.
Although the Hanadama certificate allows for thicker nacre grading than .40 mm, (which indicates a total nacre of .80 mm) it is important to remember that this test is performed on a random selection of pearls, and is not indicative of the overall nacre depth. Each pearl in any given strand will vary, and every Hanadama strand will invariably have pearls with nacre depths ranging from .40 mm to 1.00 mm and above. It is impossible to guarantee consistent nacre depth within a single strand.
The Beauty Of Hanadama Pearls
Every pearl is unique and that is the beauty of pearls. The Hanadama Pearl Certificate does not allow for a grading of zero imperfections. The reason is quite simple: all pearls will have some degree of imperfection. Pearls are organically created gems, and although the imperfections may be indistinguishable to the consumer, they still do exist. For that reason, the Pearl Science Laboratory of Japan does not allow for 'perfectly flawless' grading.
Hanadama Pearls - The World's Finest Pearls?
For further reading, we recommend the following guide to hanadama pearls written by an industry expert.
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