Akoya Pearls


The Akoya oyster is famously found in Japan where it has formed the basis of a multi-million dollar pearling industry. Akoya pearls are considered the classic cultured pearl.


Japan’s presence in the international pearl market began in 1907. A team led by Kokichi Mikimoto became the first to successfully cultivate pearls. They inserted a round bead and a small piece of tissue into a Pinctada fucata martensii oyster. The result was a small, round pearl with stunning lustre.

The Chinese began culturing saltwater Akoya pearls in the 1960’s. While once considered inferior to their Japanese counterparts, China is now producing Akoya pearls of qualities that rival that of the Japanese.

Akoya oysters rarely produce more than 2 pearls per harvest. They take 6-18 months to grow.


Akoya pearls produce naturally radiant pastel shades of pearl. Most Akoya pearls are white to ivory with pink, green or silver overtones. Japanese Akoya pearls usually have a rich pink overtone. They cost up to four times as much as Chinese Akoya pearls. They also have thicker nacre which gives them a truly deep lustre.

Akoya pearls are never naturally black; these pearls have undergone radiation treatment or have been dyed.


Using a bead as a nucleus results in a pearl with a more perfectly round shape. Akoya pearls are rounder than freshwater pearls.


The Akoya oyster is the smallest pearl producing oyster commercially farmed today. Akoya pearls also tend to be small, ranging in size from about 2.0mm to 9.0mm, on rare occasions 10.0mm. Due to pressure from Chinese pearl farmers, many Japanese pearl farmers have focused their attention on culturing large Akoya pearls. China rarely produces Akoya pearls greater than 8.0mm.

ORIGIN: Japan and China
MOLLUSC: Akoya pearl oyster
SPECIES: Pinctada fucata martensii
SIZE RANGE: 2.0mm - 10.0mm; Average size 4.0mm - 9.0mm
NATURAL COLOURS: White, ivory, cream, with pink, silver and green overtones
SHAPE: Round, baroque
RARITY: Common