Pearl Guide


A pearl with timeless appeal, the Akoya is known for its incredible, unparalleled luster. Beyond the high shine of its unblemished surface, the Akoya is also favored for its inherent round shape. Naturally occurring in neutral white or grey with rose or silver overtones, Akoyas are the most commonly selected pearls for use in necklaces and other jewelry.


The Akoya oyster, or Pinctada Fucata Martensii, is most common in China and Japan, though they are also cultured in the Red Sea, the Persian Gulf, and the coastal waters of India, Australia, Korea, and Venezuela. Akoya pearls are extremely difficult to culture, making them somewhat rare and highly valuable. Akoya oysters almost never produce more than two pearls in their lifetimes, and have a high mortality rate compared to freshwater oysters, which yield harvests of fifty or more pearls and can be nucleated many times. 


The Akoya oyster is relatively small in size, and produces a similarly small pearl. Typical Akoya pearls range in size from 2mm to 11mm, where 7mm is the average and pearls over 9mm are rare.


With the exception of pearls that have been color treated, Akoyas have neutral white or grey coloring. Color overtones in Akoya pearls are usually pale or pastel, most commonly in pink or silver.


Many people credit the Mikimoto Company’s founder Dr. Tokishi Nichikawa with pioneering the Akoya pearl cultivation process, but it was actually developed by an Australian biologist, William Saville-Kent, who taught the method to his Japanese colleague.