Seawater Cultured Pearls
The term “Akoya”, originates from the Japanese name for the Oyster used to produce the pearl.The small size of this mollusc;typically only 7 to 8cms in diameter, dictates the size of the pearls it produces:ranging from around 2 to 3mm, to a maximum of 10mm.
It is the original Cultured Pearl,first farmed around 1900 in the Mie Prefecture off the south east coast of Japan.
The round bead nucleus at its core,logically produces a round shape pearl ,but can sometimes also form other shapes.
The Akoya oyster is usually only seeded with a single bead producing only one pearl per oyster.
The Freshwater Mussel on the other hand,is multi-seeded and can produce many pearls in a single shell.This factor has a bearing on the comparative values of the two types.
The pinnacle of simple elegance,the Akoya Pearl is the classic pearl,probably best known in the form of a single strand necklace, and seen as perfect for any occasion.
Initially only available as graduated necklaces of 3mm to around 7mm, due to the fact that smaller pearls were much more available.This simple necklace became a staple item in the jewellery collections of millions of women the world over.
As time passed and culturing techniques continued to improve, larger sizes eventually became available.Fashion tastes also changed and the uniform look replaced the graduated strand giving an necklace with only 0.5 cm variance between the end and the middle of the row. So for example a typical pearl size for a necklace might be 6/6.5mm or 7/7.5m.
For decades Japan was the only producer of Akoya pearls,but over the last 25 years China has challenged Japans position.
Culturing in the Halong Bay region near to Vietnam,Chinese Akoya farmers have been producing pearls up to 8/8.5mm in diameter.The quality has been very varied in the past due to short culturing times as low as 6 months.
Oyster: Pinctada Fucata:Martensii,Radiata and Imbricata
Shapes: Round,Semi Baroque and Baroque (irregular), occasionally drop shape.
Sizes: From approximately 2 mm to 10mm – very rarely larger.
Colours: White, (overtones from pink through yellow and green) cream and golden yellow.Black and Grey tones are dyed or iridated, but light grey/light blue can be natural colours.
Locations: Japan,China and Vietnam.Smaller scale production in Australia,the Gulf of California and Venezuela.