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Japanese Akoya Cultured Pearls

the classic pearl

La japanese akoya pearl is the saltwater cultured pearl of the Akoya oyster, the Pinctada Fucata Martensii. The akoya pearls They were the first to start growing. The Akoya is considered the classic pearl with a almost perfect round shape, a very intense brightness and neutral colors.

Akoya pearl double necklace
Japanese Akoya Pearl Double Necklace

Akoya Pearls from Japan are the ideal choice if you are looking for a classic pearl necklace, bracelet or earrings. They are very elegant pearls that, due to their not too large size, can be used both daily and at any event.


Until the late 90s, Akoya pearls were the most popular pearls in the world. With the improvement in quality of freshwater pearls and their cheaper price, they were gaining ground, but even so today Akoya pearls are the ideal option for anyone looking for more exclusive pearls with a unique shine.


A good Akoya pearl necklace is to jewelry what a good black bag is to clothes, a basic that can be used in countless situations and that never goes out of style. 

Discover all our designs with Akoya pearls here!

How valuable are Akoya pearls?

Unlike the mussels that create freshwater pearls, oysters from akoya pearls they rarely produce more than two pearls per harvest. Oysters include a round mother of pearl core and a small piece of tissue from the mantle of a donor oyster. This small core is the reason why Akoya pearls are often so round. This shape, combined with the high brilliance of premium Akoya pearls, and their relative rarity compared to freshwater pearls, give Akoya pearls a higher value.

Compared with the australian or tahiti, the Akoya are the cheapest of these three saltwater pearls, due to the greater size and scarcity of the former. However, as we discussed in this other article, the value does not only depend on the origin, the quality of the pearls in question also matters, so this is merely a guide.

Akoya Pearl Necklaces Secret & You

En Secret & YouWe only offer very high quality Akoya pearls, personally chosen by our pearl expert. Since Akoya are per se a more exclusive product, we believe that it makes no sense to offer our customers lower quality Akoya pearls, when they could buy our freshwater pearls instead, which are of excellent quality and price and exceed in beauty to those other Akoya of inferior quality.

Sizes, shapes and colors

An interesting fact is that the Akoya Oyster “Pinctada Fucata Martensii” is the smallest oyster cultured to produce pearls and therefore the pearls obtained are not too large.
The average size of a akoya pearl It is only 7 mm, while the average size of an Australian is around 12 mm. The sizes in which you can find Akoya pearls range from as little as one millimeter, to a few exceptions of 10-11 mm.
Akoya pearls are mostly round, although each harvest produces a percentage of baroque and keshi pearls, which have the high luster common to Akoya, but an irregular shape and appearance.
 Akoya pearls, unless treated with dyes, are of neutral colors and tones. Most pearls range from white to gray in color, with secondary shades of pink, green, or silver. Occasionally some appear silvery gray with blue or pink hues, but these colors are extremely rare.
Black Akoya pearls can also be found, thanks to radiation treatment with cobalt-60 or with an organic dye. Although if you are looking for dark pearls, we recommend pearls Tahiti, which are the only dark pearls by nature.
Japanese akoya pearl oysters

Pinctada Fucata Martensii, the Akoya pearl oyster from 1 month to 3 years, with Akoya pearls

Where do Akoya pearls come from?

Akoya pearls are currently cultured in Japan China and, to a lesser extent, in Vietnam, Thailand and Australia. The vast majority of the world's Akoya pearls are produced in Japan, which is the undisputed center of Akoya pearl production and is therefore known as Japanese cultured pearls. China was once a real power, but Typhoon Paboo destroyed much of China's Akoya industry in 2007.

Japanese akoya pearl in its shell

A little history of the Akoya Pearl 

The history of Akoya pearls is, in short, the history of cultured pearls, since they were the first pearls that were cultivated at the beginning of the XNUMXth century.
If there is one country and one person to whom we owe the invention and promotion of pearl farming, it is Japan and Kokichi Mikimoto.
Before Mikimoto, in China, they managed to cultivate what are known as Mabe pearls or half pearls, in freshwater mussels, so the first thing Mikimoto tried was to imitate that process, but with the saltwater Akoya Oyster. He tried in 1890 with 1000 oysters and in 1891 with 5000, both experiments were unsuccessful. The problem? The cores he was using. So in 1893 he decided to use only mother-of-pearl kernels. Mother of pearl is made of nacre, which is the same substance that pearls are made of. This time the experiment was a success and Mikimoto managed to cultivate the first Akoya or Mabe Akoya half-pearls.
However, Mikimoto did not stop there, his goal was to grow round pearls. After several experiments, Mikimoto finally succeeded in 1905 by placing the nucleus, surrounded by a bit of tissue from another donor mollusk, inside the body of the oyster instead of in the mantle.

In 1908 he was granted a patent for the first and only method of growing round pearls in history.

Japanese akoya pearl strands

Akoya pearl strand with its characteristic mirror shine.


By 1916 Mikimoto was already farming Akoya pearls in a standardized way by opening several farms in different locations.

The success of Mikimoto pearls was so great that they became a symbol of Japanese pride. However, outside of Japan, the world lived on the sidelines of this discovery and remained focused on the trade in natural pearls. The great natural pearl merchants were not delighted with Mikimoto's discovery and even took it to court, since, according to them, it was an imitation as it was the result of human intervention. However, the resistance was short-lived and in 1926 at the first international jewelry congress the name "cultured pearl" was recognized and adopted. Since then all the pearls produced with human intervention, are named like this.

By 1938 Mikimoto already had stores all over the world and had more than 350 farms that produced almost 10 million pearls per harvest. The popularity of pearls did not stop growing, but an event shook the industry and the entire world, the Second World War.

After World War II, much of the Mikimoto industry was devastated and production went from almost 10 million in 38 to just 400.000 in 1946. However, the American forces that occupied Japan began to show interest and asked that they return. to produce pearls, the condition was that they only be sold to the American Central Supply Office. Many of the American soldiers returned to the United States with Akoya pearl necklaces and the popularity of pearls grew again.

Mikimoto died in 1954 at the age of 96, according to himself, his longevity was favored by swallowing a pearl a day for much of his old age.

After his death, the industry continued to develop, reaching more than 1961 farms in Japan in 4500.

From 1961 to today, the industry has experienced many changes and the popularity of other types of pearls, such as freshwater pearls, has affected, however, Akoya pearls continue to be the medium-sized round pearl par excellence.




Other types of cultured pearls