Akoya pearls are grown in the Akoya oyster (pinctada fucata), which only lives in sea water, so any pearls marked Akoya freshwater cannot be Akoya pearls.
The Akoya oyster rarely produces pearls larger than 6.5-7mm, therefore any larger Akoya pearls can command a higher price. This is because they are rare, mainly due to the length of time they have to remain in the water to achieve that size. Akoya pearls can be perfectly round or drop shape, but not elliptical.
Until the 1920s, pearls were only found in the wild and harvested by man. Pearls were therefore very expensive and the privilege of the very rich. The cultured (farmed) pearl industry today owes its worlwide status to Kokichi Mikimoto, who, although not the only Japanese man to have success with nucleating oysters, was the first to grow and market them commercially. He began 'seeding' the Akoya oyster with a round bead in the late 1800s and finally, after many years of trial and error, intruduced the round, cultured Akoya pearls to the open market place in the 1920s. This amazing and ancient gemstone was now available to more people. Japan, until the recent problems, was always considered to be the top producer of quality Akoya pearls, however China is now producing some Akoya pearls which can rival them. Japan has moved its growing beds, so their problems should soon be overcome. The new sensation is Vietnam, producing gorgeous Akoya pearls in Halong Bay. The industry there is recent, so the harvests are rather small and, as a result, the pearls are hard to come by
Akoya pearls have a limited range of natural colours, all in the pastel spectrum. These are white, platinum, champagne, cream, blush, dove grey, palest pink, pale lemon and blueish grey with natural blue markings (these look a bit like tiny planets). They all have an orient; that glow which is over the base colour, not changing the colour, but catching the light. These are described as a rose orient, a platinum orient etc. and they add that extra depth to the pearl. Occasionally, the grey can be a little darker, but once you reach the black range, then they are dyed. The original colour and orient of the pearl determines the orient when dyed, so black Akoyas will usually have a green, peacock or blue orient. Vintage Akoya pearls take on a patina and become creamier and richer as they age.
Akoya pearls remain the classic of the 20th century and have maintained this position into the 21st century.
Pearls are the traditional gift for the 30th wedding anniversary. They are the perfect foil for a beautiful wedding gown, yet can be worn for any occasion, even with jeans! They are the oldest gemstone known to man and the only gemstone produced by a living creature.
forthgirl at Culross Creations
My South Sea and Tahitian pearl guide can be found at:- http://reviews.ebay.co.uk/About-Akoya-pearls?ugid=10000000176473258
My Freshwater pearl guide can be found at :- http://reviews.ebay.co.uk/Pearls-Freshwater?ugid=10000000176617237
My Keshi and Unusual Pearls guide can be found at :- http://reviews.ebay.co.uk/Pearls-Unusual-and-Keshi?ugid=10000000176617141
My Nucleated and Flameball pearls guide can be found at :- http://reviews.ebay.co.uk/Flameball-and-Nucleated-Pearls?ugid=10000000176616995
Guide by Culross Creations - for my shop see http://stores.ebay.co.uk/Culross-Creations/Akoya-pearls