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A Brief History of Pearls: Akoya Pearl Cultivation

  A brief history of pearls


Akoya pearls are some of the most beautiful cultured pearls available. They come from the relatively small Akoya oyster, whose scientific name is Pinctada fucata. In order to preserve the species, most Akoya oysters used for pearl farming are bred in hatcheries.

What's Special About Akoya Pearls?

Akoya pearls are well known for their superior luster and color. They're some of the most popular types of cultured pearls because they're so beautiful; they're often ideal for pearl strands and earrings. With white colors and rose overtones, they are usually extremely high quality pearls.

Although Akoyas look like common freshwater pearls, they're actually quite different. They're typically larger, smoother and rounder, and when compared side-by-side with freshwater pearls, they often have a much more vibrant luster.

How Are Akoya Pearls Made?

In many cases, Akoya pearls come directly from Japanese pearl farms. As with all cultured pearls, these beautiful specimens require a pearl farmer to nucleate an oyster.

During the nucleation process, the pearl farmer opens the oyster and inserts an irritant - in this case, it's usually a hard-shell bead and mantle tissue from an oyster that has produced a high quality pearl in the past - between the oyster's soft tissues and its shell.

How Long Does it Take Akoya Pearls to Grow?

On a typical Japanese pearl farm, it takes between 10 and 18 months for a cultured Akoya pearl to grow large enough for harvest.

Akoya Pearl Harvesting

Pearl farmers wait until the oysters have developed pearls before beginning the harvesting process. Each oyster is removed from the water, opened and checked for a pearl. Unlike other types of oysters, Akoyas are only used to make one pearl; once these oysters have made a pearl, they're no longer useful to pearl farmers.

How pearls form in oysters
How pearls are harvested
How pearls brought to market
Know your Akoya pearls
Akoya Pearl Cultivation
Akoya Pearl Harvesting
Akoya Pearl Processing
Akoya Pearl Evaluation
Quality Factor One: Luster
Luster of Akoya Pearls
Quality Factor Two: Surface
Surface of Akoya Pearls
Quality Factor Three: Shape
Shape of Akoya Pearls
Quality Factor Four: Color
Color of Akoya Pearls
Quality Factor Five: Size
Size of Akoya Pearls
Know your South Sea pearls
South Sea Pearl Cultivation
South Sea Pearl Harvesting
South Sea Pearl Processing
South Sea Pearl Quality Evaluation
Luster of South Sea Pearls
Surface of South Sea Pearls
Shape of South Sea Pearls
Color of South Sea Pearls
Size of South Sea Pearls
Know your Tahitian pearls
Tahitian Pearl Cultivation
Tahitian Pearl Harvesting
Tahitian Pearl Processing
Tahitian Pearl Quality Evaluation
Luster of Tahitian Pearls
Surface of Tahitian Pearls
Shape of Tahitian Pearls
Color of Tahitian Pearls
Size of Tahitian Pearls
Gift Giving Occasions

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