Akoya Pearls are the Classic Pearl Variety
The Akoya pearl is a saltwater cultured pearl from the Akoya oyster (Pinctada fucata martensii). The most popular type of saltwater pearl, information on Akoyas is abundant! They are considered to be the classic pearl used for necklaces and other pearl jewelry, with their perfect round shapes, bright mirror-like luster, and soft neutral colors, akoya pearls favored by most retailers, consumers, and others in the pearling industry.
How they compare to other types of pearls...
Unlike their freshwater cousins, according to most saltwater pearl information akoya oysters rarely produce more than 2 pearls per harvest. The oysters are nucleated with a bead composed of mother-of-pearl and mantle tissue. This bead is the basis of the pearl and is the reason Akoya pearls are more often perfectly round. This shape, combined with the high-luster found on top-quality akoya pearls, and their relative rarity compared to freshwater pearls, give akoya pearls both a higher perceived and actual value.
What colors, shapes, and sizes are available...
An interesting piece of saltwater pearl information is the akoya oyster is the smallest commercially farmed, pearl-producing oyster. An average akoya pearl is only 7 mm, while an average South Sea pearl is in the 12 mm range. Akoya pearls are currently being harvested in sizes from as small as 1 mm up to the very rare 10 mm.
Akoya pearls are inherently round, although every harvest produces a percentage of baroque and keshi pearls which tend to have the bright luster and shine common to the Akoya, but a shape and look reminiscent of a freshwater or baroque South Sea. Akoya pearls, unless color-treated, have soft, neutral colors 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 colors are rare except in the baroque variety. A little known piece of Akoya pearl information: they are never naturally black – black Akoya pearls have undergone either a radiation or dye treatment.
Where they come from...
Akoya pearls are currently farmed in China, Japan, and to a lesser extent, Vietnam, Thailand, Australia and a few other areas. The vast majority of the world's akoya pearls sized 8 mm and larger are produced in Japan, which was once the undisputed akoya pearl producing center of the world, but has recently lost that title to China, where in the last 5 years pearls of equivalent quality have been produced in a much greater abundance.
For more Akoya Pearl information, see article: Japanese Akoya Pearls Only - Fact or Fiction?
How rare and valuable they are...
While the akoya pearl is undoubtedly more rare and valuable than the freshwater pearl, after reading all this saltwater pearl information it may surprise you to know 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.view our akoya pearl collection
For more information about pearls, feel free to ask one of our team members via phone, email or live chat. We are the experts on pearls and can answer any questions you might have regarding saltwater pearl information.