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 Home / Gem Library / Natural Gemstones / Akoya Pearl May 28, 2024  

Natural Akoya Pearl
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The cultivation of spherical Akoya pearls was originally discovered by William Saville-Kent in Western Austarlia more than 100 years ago. The insertion techniques were later patented by Dr. Tokishi Nishikawa of Japan and subsequently developed and used by Kokichi Mikimoto over the last century. These same techniques for nucleus insertion are still used today.

Japanese Akoya Pearl is a term often used as a misnomer to describe all cultured akoya pearls. Nowadays, akoya pearls are also grown in China, South Korea, Vietnam and Australia.

Pearl producers cultivate akoya pearls in a bivalve mollusk of the Pinctada genus. The primary species used in cultivation are the Pinctada fucata and the Pinctada chemnizti. The Pinctada fucata is native to the coastal waters of Japan, while the Pinctada chemnitzi is more prolific in Vietnam and along the coast of China. Today, most akoya pearl producers in both China and Japan cultivate with a hybridization of the two species.

Akoya pearls typically range in size from 2 to 11 mm, while the most common sizes fall between 7 and 9 mm. These sizes are small enough for daily wear and look proportionate on most women. The pearls are valued primarily for their size, shape, luster, color, and surface nacre. Large round pearls are always the most highly prized and small increases in diameter can increase valuations substantially. The quality and thickness of the nacre is reflected in the luster which along with the color is the most important factor affecting the beauty of the pearl. A smooth surface free of any blemishes is always desirable but uncommon in normal cultivation.

Akoya pearls predominately exhibit white body color with rosé, silver, or cream overtones. A rose overtone can range from pale pink to deeper, more saturated hues. This overtone deepens and enhances the pearl’s luster. Pairing these pearls with yellow gold will maximize this effect, making the pearls appear highly lustrous.

Silver overtones may also contain undertones of green or blue, giving the pearls an ethereal look. This overtone works equally well with both yellow and white gold and is best suited for women with dark hair and tan or olive complexions. The contrasting colors will make these pearls appear even larger to the eye.

A cream overtone, like rosé, enhances and deepens the pearl’s luster an the effect can be maximized by pairing the pearls with yellow gold. The finest cream overtones display flashes of violet, combining pink and blue to dazzling effect.

It’s all about luster.

Luster is the quantity and quality of light reflected from the pearl’s surface. The most valuable akoya pearls mirror recognizable objects and light reflections will appear crisp and sharply defined. Excellent luster displays sharp, crisply defined reflected light sources on the surface, and recognizable facial features will be visible on the pearl’s surface. A photograph of highly lustrous pearls could clearly show both the camera and the photographer in the image.

Pearls of very good luster will reflect sharply defined light sources off the surface, but some slight blurring or softening of the edges will be apparent. The face of the viewer may still be discernible on the surface but not all the details. Good or Fair luster exhibits distinctly softer edges from the reflected light sources. Physical objects will appear heavily blurred on the pearl’s surfaces.

Known Facts
Chemical Composition: CaCO3
Hardness: 2.5 - 4.0
Density: 2.66 – 2.78+
Crystal Group: Not applicable
Ocurrence: Japan
Sign of the Zodiac: Cancer
Month of the year: June

When all other quality factors are equal, the larger the pearl, the more valuable it is. Less than 25% of any pearl harvest is fine enough for jewelry. Of that, only 1% will measure over 9.0 mm and be considered fine.

Like all products of nature, cultured pearls display “fingerprints” left over from their time in the host oyster. Inclusions distinguish genuine cultured pearls from man-made imitation beads. High quality synthetic pearls such as the Majorca pearls will display perfect surfaces with no marks or aberrations. The fewer the imperfections, the more valuable the pearls are. All cultured pearls exhibit some imperfections even if they are not visible to the naked eye.

Some imperfections:

1. Akoya Mottling is not technically considered to be an imperfection and the formation occurs due to a build-up of crystal just under the surface.

2. Flat spots are commonly found on smaller pearls in the 5.0-7.0mm size range. Flat spots are only visible upon up-close inspection of six-inches or less because of their small size.

3. Blinking is the visual phenomenon that appears when the pearl’s nacre is too thin. Striations in the mother-of-pearl bead nucleus become visible when spinning sections of the strand in front of a strong light source.

Pearls with thin nacre not only tend to have low luster but they also risk damage such as peeling nacre and heavy chipping around the drill hole.

Care and Cleaning Chemicals Reaction: Attacked by many chemicals and all acids, hair spray, perfume, cosmetics, and even acid perspiration can damage nacre.

Ultrasonic Cleaning: Never, Steam cleaning: Never, Warm Soapy Water: Safe for occasional, thorough cleaning (if strung, be sure the string is completely dry before wearing). For continued care, wipe cultured pearls with a very soft, clean cloth after each wearing. Pearls are said to help one see them selves and help improve self-worth.

Giving a loved one a gift of pearls is one of the nicest gifts one can give. It allows the wearer to see the love of the person who gave them the pearls.

Akoya Pearl
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Akoya Pearl Stats/
Popularity Index: 58460hits
Total Items: 5items
Total Weight: CTS 50.21
Cheapest: USD 8.00
Most Expensive: USD 260.00
Largest: CTS 19.12
Smallest: CTS 0.34
Last Added: 10/06/17 08:51:26

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