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The Beauty of Akoya Pearls

The Beauty of Akoya Pearls

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The Beauty of Akoya Pearls

There’s something so simple but beautiful about a pearl. They’re elegant, feminine, and an incredibly unique addition to any piece of jewelry. They’ve been worn by style icons like Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, Michelle Obama, Elizabeth Taylor, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Audrey Hepburn. There are multiple varieties of pearls in the market these days, but there’s something truly special about the Akoya pearls.

The Unique Qualities of Akoya Oysters

Akoya oysters are unique and very small oysters that are found in the calm waters of Japan. The cool temperatures of the salt water they live in provides the perfect environment to create very unique pearls. The slow formation of nacre creates a compact structure of the stone, causing them to glow brightly.

The pearls these oysters create range from 2 to 10 mm in diameter. They also come in a wide variety of colors, from cream to silvery white, rose to gold, and even a bluish gray.

The History of Akoya Pearls

Akoya pearls are the most popular saltwater pearls in the world and are beloved by people everywhere. There’s one man in particular who made this all happen: Kokichi Mikimoto.

Mikimoto was the eldest child in his family, and the son of an udon noodle shop owner. His father fell ill when was just 11 years old. Two years later he left school to sell vegetables to support his family. He became incredibly fascinated with pearls while watching the pearl divers as a child.

At 20 Mikimoto acted as a judge for an 1878 pearl exhibition, when he noticed something that began to bother him. Many of the pearls had flaws that he struggled to look past. So he began his search for the perfect pearl.

As the chairman of the Shima Marine Products Improvement Association, he began to search for new ways to produce pearls. In 1888 he received a loan that allowed him to open his very own pearl farm. Five years later, he was finally able to create perfectly round pearls in just 10 to 18 months.

Expanding Availability

In 1899 Mikimoto opened his very first pearl shop in the Ginza district of Tokyo. They began by selling half round and natural seed pearls. Business expanded quickly and in 1913 they opened stores in London. Following the end of World War II, Akoya pearls were sold in stores in New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco, Paris, Shanghai, and Bombay. People were obsessed with the gorgeous stones.

Akoya vs Freshwater

Freshwater and Akoya pearls may seem like they’re very similar in appearance until you place them side-by-side. Freshwater pearls are absolutely gorgeous and unique, but they just don’t compare to Akoyas.

On average the saltwater pearls are far rounder, larger, smoother, and more radiant than freshwater ones. Because Akoya pearls are naturally round, they’re easier to match, creating perfect necklace strands and earring pairs.

At Ralph Mueller and Associates, we’re passionate about jewelry. If you’re thinking of selling your Akoya pearls contact us at 480.949.9299 and we can answer any questions you have.