Gallery & In-depth
Akoya Pearls, compared to other types
Unlike their freshwater cousins, akoya pearl oysters rarely produce more than two pearls per harvest. The oysters are nucleated with a bead composed of mother-of-pearl and a small piece of mantle tissue. This bead becomes the nucleus of the pearl and is the reason akoya pearls are more often perfectly round. This shape, combined with the high-lustre found on top-quality akoya pearls, and their relative rarity compared to freshwater pearls, give akoya pearls a higher perceived value. An average akoya pearl is about 7 mm, while an average South Sea pearl is in the 12 mm range.
Colours, shapes, and sizes
Akoya pearls are inherently round, although every harvest produces a percentage of baroque and keshi pearls, which tend to have the bright lustre and shine common to the akoya, but a shape and look reminiscent of a freshwater or baroque South Sea. Akoya pearls, unless colour-treated, have neutral colours and overtones.
Most pearls are white to grey, with pink, green, or silver overtones. Occasionally, akoya pearls are blue with silver and pink overtones, but these colours are extremely rare. Akoya pearls are never naturally black – black akoya pearls have undergone either Cobalt-60 radiation treatment or treatment with an organic dye.
A bead is surgically implanted into the gonad of the Pinctada fucata martensii oyster along with a small piece of mantle tissue. The oyster coats the bead with layer upon layer of beautiful nacre.
Akoya pearls are mainly farmed in Japan, and to a lesser extent, Vietnam, Thailand and Australia. Japan however is the undisputed akoya pearl producing centre of the world. China was once a genuine contender, but mother nature destroyed the Chinese akoya industry in 2007.
How rare and valuable are they?
While the akoya pearl is considered to be (overall) more rare and valuable than the freshwater pearl, it is only the third most valuable commercially produced pearl, falling behind South Sea and Tahitians. It is still common to find top-quality akoya pearl strands retailing for more than €10,000, however, this would be average for a Tahitian strand and low for a South Sea, but much higher than a comparable freshwater pearl necklace.
For more akoya pearl information feel free to ask any of our team members. We are the experts on pearls and can answer any questions you may have.