American Pearl Category - Japanese Akoya Pearl Jewelry

Quick Look into Japanese Akoya Pearls

Akoya Pearl Cultivation Akoya pearls take their name from the comparatively small Akoya oyster in which they form, also known by its scientific name Pinctada fucata. Most Akoya oysters used in pearl farming are bred in hatcheries, to ensure the safety of the species. Much research has gone into breeding hearty, healthy Akoya oysters -- to produce pearls so well-known for their superior luster and color. As with all cultured pearls, Akoya oysters are nucleated with a hard-shell bead and mantle tissue from an oyster that has produced a high-quality pearl in the past. But compared with the other species of saltwater cultured pearl oysters, many more Akoya oysters are nucleated.

Generally, Akoya cultured pearls take 10 to 18 months from the time they are nucleated to the point they're ready for harvest. Akoya Pearl Harvesting Akoya cultured pearls are the most difficult and costly to grow because of the low survival rates of their host oysters. Less than 50 percent of Akoya oysters survive the nucleation process, and those that do go on to produce pearls can do so only once. Of all Akoya pearls produced, less than 5 percent are considered high quality. Nevertheless, the total number of Akoya pearls harvested every year generally exceeds other types of saltwater cultured pearls. This is why most cultured pearl necklaces are made of Akoya pearls.

Luster is considered the most important quality factor in pearls. Luster refers both to a pearl's brilliance -- the way its surface reflects light -- and its inner glow: the way it refracts light. Many experts believe that Akoya pearls have the highest luster of all cultured pearls, and it has to do with their nacre coating. Even though Akoya pearls' nacre coating is generally thinner than that of most other saltwater varieties -- about a half millimeter thick -- their luster shines the brightest.

Surface is the second most important quality factor in pearl evaluation. Surface quality refers to the amount and kinds of flaws that appear on the outside of a pearl. Akoya pearls are typically clean, generally free of heavy blemishes.

Shapes of Akoya pearls are generally sold in the "round," "semi-round," "drop" and "baroque" shapes. They don't often appear as "buttons," "circles," or "ovals."

Saltwater cultured pearls display a fascinating array of colors, it's important to note that no color is considered superior to another, and, as always, preferences are entirely up to a customer's taste. Akoya cultured pearls come in rose, silver/white, cream, gold, and blue/gray.

The size of a pearl is measured in millimeters, through its diameter. The average and most popular size sold today is 7 to 7-and-a-half millimeters. Though a pearl's size is not an indicator of its quality, it will determine its price. Akoya pearls range from 2 to 10 millimeters, with 7 millimeters being the average size.

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