Pearl Encyclopedia - SelecTraders

Japanese Akoya Pearls

For the last 100 years the Japanese have been the undisputed champions of japanese cultured pearls production. The art of cultivation with all its skills has been handed down from generation to generation, closely guarded to ensure the survival of the industry.

Nowadays the Japanese industry has to face fierce competition, mainly from Chinese pearl farmers. Still playing an important role on the international pearl market, the traditional japanese art of cultivating pearls is even overtaken in some areas.

About 40 years the Chinese began culturing akoya pearls. Their success was quite poor at first, but as time went by, experience was gathered and Akoya pearls of commercial value were produced. In the 1990s Japanese quality was still far superior, but nowadays the story reaches a turning point.

Finally the Chinese stopped using harsh treatments to rush the harvested pearls to market, quality over quantity is the rule. Culturing large Akoya pearls (larger than 8mm) is a speciality of the Japanese pearl farmers until this day. But smaller Akoya pearls harvested in China cannot be distinguished from their Japanese counterparts any more. Taking this fact into consideration, it may be worthwhile to acquire Akoyas from 4 to 8 mm of Chinese origin. Lovers of large Akoya pearls will have to invest considerable amounts of money on the Japanese market.