The Akoya Cultured Pearl
Despite the entry of the other cultured pearl types in the market today, the most common though of pearl is still the Akoya cultured pearl. Along with the introduction of other types of cultured pearls, there has been an amazing assortment of sizes, shapes and colors. With all of the varieties in the market place, akoyas are most known for there most lustrous, well matched, spherical shaped, and white body color. Any significant retail establishment selling pearls will offer these beautiful pearls that are usually strung into classic, single strand necklaces or the feature piece of fine jewelry.
Since their inception to the pearl industry, the popularity that akoya received was mainly due to into spherical shape and stunning luster that instantly started to capture the attention of pearl enthusiasts. The Japanese were the pioneers in the culturing process and have continuously improved their processes in search for the perfect processing procedures. Ultimately, it is the process, technique, and environment from start to finish that will determine the fate and look of a pearl.
Akoya pearls are cultivated in Pinctada Fucata, it’s oyster’s species name, and the sub-species Martensii. Therefore their mollusks are often as Pinctada fucata martensii. Japanese waters is the home to the largest area for akoya oysters, however there have been varieties of akoyas around the world: Korea, China, Southeast Asia, the Red and Mediterranean Seas, Australia, the Persian Gulf, the South and East African coasts, as well as the Caribbean. Japan and China are the primary producers of akoya cultured pearls. The mild climate and moderately cold winters of Japan offer a great environment to grow lustrous akoya cultured pearls.
Typically known as the smaller pearls on the market, akoyas range in size from 8cm to 13mm (3inches to 5 inches) in diameter. In relation to its smaller oyster size (South Sea Oysters – Pinctada Maxima – can grow as large as 30cm or 12inches in diameter), the pearls that are harvested are also smaller.
Akoya pearls range from 2mm to 11mm in diameter. Pearlotica offers akoyas in varying sizes, however focuses its offering in the 7.5-8.0mm selection which provide the best selection for selection, luster and overall quality in the presentation for our fine pearl jewelry. The traditional “strand of pearls” known in the market today is a well-matched, round, lustrous white akoya strand.
In Japan, there is an estimated 2,000 pearl farms with about 10 percent of those featuring large-scale operations. The other pearl farms are independently run farms with an average of 5-10 on their staff. The average capacity of these smaller farms is about 50,000 oysters. Seasonal workers are hired for nucleation and harvesting responsibilities.
According to GIA’s Pearl Standards, the Typical Characteristics of Akoya Cultured Pearls:
The Tahitian Cultured Pearl
The Tahitian Cultured Pearl is actually a relatively new entry to the world of pearls. In the mid 1970’s, fine Tahitian pearls came into the market with a look that was very different from that of the traditional cultured pearl look. The Tahitian pearls, with their unique saturated green and black color with a rose overtone quickly began to “wow” its new customers. The Tahitian name brings its image of tropical beaches, warm paradise nights, and exotic island that now are the birth place to this most beautiful jewel of the their crystalline oceans.
One may hear of Tahitian Pearls described as Tahitian Black Pearls. This name is technically inaccurate as the pearls come from the many islands of French Polynesia (Tahiti being the largest) and they come in a wide range of colors – blues, greens, greys, and browns. Tahitian cultured pearls are cultivated in a black-lipped oyster – scientific named the Pinctada margaritifera cumingi. These bivalve mollusks can live 30 years and grow to 30cm (12 inches) in diameter, weighing up to 11 lbs.
Tahitian pearls are cultivated and grown in closed lagoons in French Polynesia. This most special environment and process is the best for this precious gems for the following reasons:
Tahitian pearls very greatly in size as well as shape. We always note that the round pearls are a large part of a pearls higher value, however other shapes can take on great value for personal preference and special designs for fine jewelry. Another strong factor is a pearl’s “matchability” which may be for the matching in a strand, earring or jewelry style set. All of the sets, styles and strands offered on Pearlotica.com feature great attention to detail, meticulous efforts by our quality control and design departments to ensure the highest quality and best matched jewelry to our valued customers. Some of the necklaces and bracelets that we offer are uniform or multi-color Tahitians. The uniform colored as well as the multi-color styles both undergo dedicated hours, weeks, and sometime months of work to achieve these beautiful matched sets.
At Pearlotica.com, we value the uniqueness of the Tahitian pearl and showcase the variety of sizes and shapes that have allowed our design team to feature different styles to please any taste. Then, you of course have the exquisite color of Tahitian cultured pearls to give it another differentiation as compared to other cultured pearl types. The three most prevalent trade terms for its colors are Peacock (for its dark green gray to blue gray colors), Aubergine (dark grayish purple color), and Pistachio (yellowish green to greenish yellow color). In all of our jewelry, we offer the finest Tahitians available on the market, however we are stand strong to only offering naturally cultured Tahitian pearls. Customers must be aware of dyed or treated pearls that may give them their “chocolate” or “pistachio” color. The natural chocolate or pistachio is very rare and today’s pearl market has seen the emergence of these dyed “chocolates” and “pistachio” colored pearls. They are of course beautiful as well, however we just want customers to know and be disclosed or certain treatments. Established retailers and dealers of pearls know that they must disclose this type of treatment/enhancement to its customers.
Tahitian pearls range in luster from excellent to fair and achieve their luster by almost entirely natural means. A way to describe the beautiful look of a Tahitian pearl is that of a metallic sheen that may combine a varying overtone.
As with any cultured pearl, Tahitians also fall victim to blemishes on their surface. Of course, the fewer blemishes, the higher value. At Pearlotica.com, we feature only pearls of high quality in all pearl value factors, focusing on AAA and AA+ quality standards as the benchmark offering with all our jewelry pieces.
Typically, Tahitian cultured pearls have a nacre thickness of 2mm all the way around. This allows these gems to not result in a visible nucleus or a chalky appearance that other pearl types may reveal.
According to GIA’s Pearl Standards, the Typical Characteristics of Tahitian Cultured Pearls:
The South Sea Cultured Pearl
The Pinctada Maxima is one of the biggest of all oysters for culturing pearls and is the home for the stunning White and Golden South Sea cultured pearls. The South Seas are geographically positioned between the southern coast of Southeast Asia and the northern coast of Australia. South Sea pearls grow in Australia, Indonesia, the Philippines, Myanmar (formerly Burma), and Thailand. At Pearlotica.com, we are fortunate to have strategic partnerships and access to all of these countries and farms to ensure we are able to procure our South Sea pearl collection at not only the highest qualities, but at the best prices to pass on to our valued customers. Our pearl buyers travel the world throughout the year are relentless in their pursuit of the best farms, deals, and pearl offerings.
The most distinguishable characteristic of a South Sea cultured pearl is its large size. The akoya started the popularity of the cultured pearl and rarely is seen larger than 10mm and that is where the South Sea pearl comes into its niche. South Sea cultured pearls range is size from 9mm to 20mm in diameter with the average about 13mm in size. The much larger Pinctada Maxima oyster (as compared to the Pinctada fucata – akoya oyster) allows for the much larger size to be cultivated. Also, the warm waters and pristine environments of the South Sea geographical areas promote rapid nacre disposition.
Most South Sea cultured pearls may grow for about 2 years as compared to the 8 months for some Japanese akoya pearls. Pinctada maxima oysters typically grow to 12 inches in diameter and come in the both silver-lipped and gold-lipped varieties. The three other distinguishable features of South Sea cultured pearls are a thick nacre, satin-like luster, and a stunning array of colors.
According to GIA’s Pearl Standards, the Typical Characteristics of South Sea Cultured Pearls:
The Freshwater Cultured Pearl
The Freshwater cultured pearl is different, yet similar in many ways than that of the Saltwater cultured pearls types (akoya, Tahitian, and South Sea cultured pearls). The Saltwater cultured pearls mentioned are cultivated in saltwater bays and lagoons, whereas Freshwater cultured pearls come from freshwater lakes and ponds. There are three main freshwater cultured pearl producing countries of note: China, Japan, and the United States.
To best describe and explain freshwater pearls it is important to note how they compare to their counterpart – the Saltwater cultured pearl. Both of their mollusks are capable of producing cultured pearls but have their own unique process and results. The saltwater cultured pearl producing mollusks are known as oysters, whereas the mollusks producing freshwater pearls are known as mussels. The key differentiation is in the amount of mantle tissue that the mussel can accept versus that of an oyster. A mussel may accept up to 50 pieces of mantle tissue, thus potential producing 40 tissue-nucleated freshwater pearls from these implants. Akoyas can accept up to only five implants and Tahitian and South Sea oysters only accept one bead at a time.
The growth period for freshwater cultured pearls range from two to six years. In comparison, saltwater cultured pearls range from 6 months to 26 months. Because of the mantle-tissue nucleation of freshwater mussels, the resulting gems are almost completely of nacre. This also causes the cultured pearls to rarely be spherical in shape. Only about 2 percent of these tissue-nucleated freshwater pearls are round or near round shaped. At Pearlotica.com, we value all shapes and sizes, however we focus on the most rare, high valued round and near round shapes only in our exquisite freshwater pearl collection. Most of what we offer is AAA quality, however we also showcase AA+ quality freshwater pearls to provide another price point to our valued customers.
According to GIA’s Pearl Standards, the Typical Characteristics of Freshwater Cultured Pearls:
The variety of pearl shapes and colors that are produced in freshwater mussels lend to some of the most creative and unique fine and fashion jewelry designs. We offer uniform as well as multi-color freshwater pearl designs for all types of attires, occasions, and tastes.
Join our Pearlotica Passport
Your Exclusive Pass to the Best Deals, Savings, and News from Pearlotica.com
With each purchase you make, we will package your Pearl Jewelry in one of our custom boxes. Designed exclusively for Pearlotica, our boxes act as both a beautiful display showcase and a secure and snug enclosure to protect your pearls while you are not wearing them.
Risk Free Purchase:|
At Pearlotica, we guarantee you 100% Complete Satisfaction with your purchase for 60 days or we will give you a full refund - no questions asked.
Learn more about our Pearlotica Promise.
Certificate of Authenticity and Appraisal|
Prepared by our in-house, GIA (Gemological Institute of America) Certified Pearl Expert, we will provide a Certificate of Authenticity and Appraisal with every item you purchase. Each certificate includes the appraised value, a color picture and the technical details that describe and identify your purchase.