Understand Akoya Pearls

Understand Japanese Akoya versus Chinese Akoya Cultured Pearls


Kokichi Mikimoto was among the first entrepreneurs to create a cultured pearl (using the Pinctada Fucata Martensii oyster known as Akoya), the result of decades of painstaking experimentation and research. Previously, pearls were made by the oyster’s defense against natural irritants (a shell fragment, a parasite), releasing layer upon layer of silky “nacre” to wrap the object, hardening to a crystalline shimmer.

Kokichi Mikimoto has taken this a step further, introducing a foreign object into the oyster to provoke the process. Today, this foreign object is primarily cut from the pig-toe shell as it is the only foreign object that the Akoya Oyster won’t reject. From here afterwards, Mother Nature can create the gem. He has created the oyster farm. From this, the seed of the Akoya cultured pearl, and an entire industry, is sown.

The Japanese Akoya pearls, ranging in sizes from 1mm up to 10mm are now an essential element in any woman’s wardrobe; from the elegant single strand to the power-dressing double and the aristocratic triple. Japanese Akoya cultured pearls are known for their (1) thick cultivation, (2) very high luster (3) perfectly round shapes and (4) investment grade stature.





Until recently, all Akoya pearls originated from Japan as no other country could produce the equivalent quality. Today, Chinese pearl farmers have bred their oyster with the Akoya oyster and are now producing Chinese Akoya cultured pearls.

Fine quality Chinese Akoya pearls are primarily only available in smaller sizes. Even today, the world’s finest jewelry stores such as Tiffany & Co. and Mikimoto do not offer Chinese Akoya cultured pearls yet as the nucleating process is slightly different and the long term durability is still unkown. However, they look pretty good and the price is right. At American Pearl, we love quality and we want everyone to own quality pearls. After all, beauty is the reason why people treasure pearls. In the world of pearls, beauty equals quality. As such, we felt it is very important to draw a "clear line in the sand" between Chinese Akoya cultured pearls and Japanese Akoya cultured so consumers can understand the value and quality differences for themselves.