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The Wide World of Pearls, Our 88th Issue: THE Akoya Pearl Buyer's Guide


Pearls of Joy Pearl Quote of the Week: "There is no irritant as painful as an ace up your sleeve that you can never use; it's the kind of thing that causes oysters to produce pearls." -  Sheila Ballantyne



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Weekly Eye Candy Spotlight: Metallic Keshi Freshwater Pearls



These Metallic Keshi Freshwater pearls were absolute stand-outs at the Hong Kong Jewellery Show in 2014. We scored a few handfuls of the coolest examples with strong Silver and Dove Grey colors for pendants and even matched pairs for earrings!




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Akoya Pearl Buyer's Guide


Akoya Pearls 101: Buying Guide

The epitome of classic grace and style, the Akoya pearl is a staple for every woman's jewelry box. 
In this post, you'll find information on the main aspects of the Akoya pearl ... from simple pearl basics to pearl farming, Akoya pearl grading and more.

Akoya Pearl Farming


Cultured Akoya pearls were first born in Japan around 1912. The “Father of Cultured Pearls” is Kokichi Mikimoto, the man responsible for bringing cultured Akoya pearls to the world.

Today, the Akoya pearl is cultured on pearl farms located in Japan, China and Vietnam.

Japan is still known far and wide as the producer of the finest Akoya pearls in the world.

The cold waters of the Pacific Ocean are the Akoya oyster's special secret for how it creates its "mirror-like" luster. The colder temperatures of the water slow down the oyster's metabolism.

This causes nacre secreted around the bead nucleus to get packed very tightly together in concentric layers. The more tightly packed these layers are, the brighter and sharper the pearl's luster.

China was a leading producer of smaller-sized Akoya pearls for many years. Chinese farmers focused on sizes ranging from 4 - 7mm, which could be harvested and brought to market more quickly than larger pearls. But that situation no longer holds true. After a series of devastating environmental disasters, most farms were wiped out completely, never to return. Today, very few Akoya pearls are from China.

A smaller segment of the Akoya pearl farming community (but no less impressive) is Vietnam. The saltwater Akoya oyster pinctada fucata martensii, are native to the area and are bred to produce Akoya pearls in rich, unusual colors like blue, grey-blue, gold ... even pistachio green! And they are famous for pearls with very thick nacre, and a gorgeous glow. Vietnamese Akoya pearls are rare collector’s items, and these days can only be found at major pearl shows and auctions in Hong Kong.


Akoya Pearl Colors  

While Akoyas are known for that “Classic White” color, these pretty little pearls come in a wider range than ever imagined. Get ready to dive in to a world of color including shades of Blue, Blue-Green, Silver-Blue, shades of warm Gold and Yellow and even Pistachio … all of which are totally natural colors.

Black Akoya pearls are the results of a color-treatment process, typically dye. Black Akoya pearls display a very dark, black body color with hints of Midnight Blue and Green-Black overtones that are incredibly attractive, and extremely unique.


Akoya Pearl OvertonesOvertones are the term used to describe a second, transparent sheen of color that appears to float over the main body color of the pearl. Jewelers describe it like blush over a woman’s cheek.

There are three common overtones for the White Akoya pearl. These are rose, silver and cream.

  • Rose overtones are the most popular and traditional of all. Rose originated with Mikimoto Pearls, who preferred the pastel pink iridescence. It was thought that rose was the most complimentary to females of all complexions.
  • Silver overtones can bestbe described as a bright optic white.It is popular because it looks closest to what most shoppers envision when they’re thinking about a white pearl necklace. The silver overtone looks best on women with tan or Mediterranean complexions.
  • Cream overtones are the third most popular overtone and looks like a pale yellowish tinge and gives the pearls a classic, vintage look. The cream overtone pairs best with women who have pinker complexions, blondes, older women and red heads, as this vintage-looking overtone won’t clash with these hues.


Akoya Pearl Sizes  

The Akoya pearl is one of the smaller-sized pearl types available, and is considered to be very versatile. Pearl sizes generally range from tiny 2.5-3.0mm seed pearls to a maximum of 9.5-10.0mm sizes, which are rare.

The most popular size range ranges from 6.0-6.5 mm up through 8.5-9.0mm, with many shoppers considering the 7.0-7.5mm size to be the “sweet spot” for pearl necklaces and earrings for young women and adults.

Intrigued yet? There's SO much more to learn about these amazing cultured pearls! We cover topics in-depth such as Akoya pearl grading, Akoya vs. Freshwater pearls, pricing guidelines and more!

Click the link below to read our full Akoya Pearl Buyer's Guide so you can become an Akoya pearl expert!



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Featured Pearls 

Weekly Product Spotlight: Japanese Akoya Black Pearl Tincup Necklace 

Black Akoya Pearl Tin Cup Necklace

This beautiful black Akoya pearl necklace consists of beautiful and lustrous pearls in AA+ quality, and is mounted on 14K gold. The option to upgrade to AAA quality pearls are available for an additional fee.
Known as the 'icon' of cultured pearls, Akoya pearls have graced the necks, ears, fingers, and wrists of women for decades. Pearls of Joy imports their Akoya pearls from the saltwaters of Japan, grown in the Pinctada fucata oyster.
All of our Akoya pearl Tin Cups are made on site, and our extensive experience and careful attention to detail allows us to create truly beautiful Akoya pearl jewelry.

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