||A brief history of pearls
AKOYA PEARL CULTIVATION
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.