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Any time you see a traditional single-strand pearl necklace, it most likely is strung with Akoya cultured pearls. Akoya pearls were the first pearls to be cultured in the early 20th century, making pearl jewelry affordable for the masses, and many women have strands of Akoya pearls in their jewelry boxes. These round, white or cream-colored pearls are gemstone staples.
Characteristic of the Akoya Pearl
The Akoya oyster is the smallest of the pearl-producers. Adults are only 3 to 5 inches in diameter. Because the oyster is small, so is the pearl. Typical Akoya pearls range from 2 mm to 11 mm, with the 10 and 11 mm sizes rare finds.
Of all the pearl value factors, the Akoya excels at matching - in fact, most of them rank as "excellent" in the category. That's why many Akoya pearls are sold as Akoya pearl necklaces or matched Akoya pearl earrings. The reason the pearls can be so easily matched is that most of them are round or near-round.
Sizes in Akoyas are valuable when they are in high demand. There is a big difference in value between a 7.5 and 8 mm size, just because the 8 mm is desirable in fashion at the moment. However, as a rule of thumb, Akoyas become more valuable as pearl size increases. Although most Akoya pearls are round or near-round, nature still produces baroques, semi-baroques and sometimes even drops in some harvests.
The Akoya pearl is either white or cream in body color with rose, cream, silver or ivory overtones. Some Akoya pearls achieve a black body color through a process called irradiation. It typically has an excellent, good or fair luster, which is why the Akoya is such a prized gem. The best pearls have clean surface quality and acceptable nacre. The most highly valued Akoyas are larger, have excellent luster and clean surface quality.
Akoya Pearls In Jewelry
By far, most Akoya pearls are strung in the traditional pearl necklace style. These popular jewelry pieces become family heirlooms. They are often a "Sweet 16" present or accessorize wedding gowns. Pearl necklaces come in a variety of sizes, but the 14- to 16-inch choker and the 17- to 19-inch princess are the two most popular.
The choker is perfect with virtually every neckline, from an opened buttoned-down blouse to a business suit. This piece looks great with everything from blue jeans to evening wear. The princess necklace works well with crew necklines and turtlenecks.
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