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Hanadama Akoya Pearls Buyer's Guide

Hanadama Pearls 101: The Ferrari of Pearls

Japanese Hanadama Akoya pearls are hands-down the most lustrous pearls on the market. Loved for their intense mirror-like luster, iridescent "Aurora" effect, certified thick nacre depths and classic, timeless appeal, Hanadama Akoya pearls are one of the pearl world's rarest pearls.

This Hanadama Pearl Buyer's Guide will shed some light on this classic pearl and give you the information need to buy top grade certified Japanese Hanadama Pearls

Use the Table of Contents to skip ahead or read the entire article to bone up on all things Hanadama.

Hanadama Pearl Basics

Hanadama Akoya pearls known for being the only “Certified” cultured pearl type on the market today. Each Hanadama pearl necklace and pair of Hanadama pearl earrings is certified by the Pearl Science Laboratory located in Tokyo, Japan, and the pearls are guaranteed to have the highest levels of luster, aurora effect and thickest nacre layers of all Akoya pearls.

Hanadama Pearl Basics

Hanadama pearls are characterized by:

  • Saltwater Pearl Type: Hanadama Akoya pearls are grown in the pinctada fucata martensii saltwater pearl oyster. The p. martensii oyster is native to the coastal waters of Japan and China, Vietnam and Myanmar (formerly Burma).  
  • Traditionally White Colors: Hanadama Akoya pearls most often feature a white body color, with classic overtones of rose, silver and cream. The only other color for Hanadama pearls is a natural, untreated Silver-Blue, and these certified pearls are called “Madama”.
  • Rose Overtones are Most Common: The most prevalent overtone is rose, and this is where Hanadama pearls get their name! The term Hanadama is a Japanese term that Mikimoto himself applied to his finest pearls … it means “flower pearl” due to their pastel pink hues.  
  • Small to Moderate Sizes: Ranging from 7 mm to 9.5 mm and rarely 10 mm at their very largest. Their moderate sizes make them perfect for nearly any occasion and age group.
  • Perfectly Round Shapes: Hanadama pearls are chosen from the highest quality lots of Akoya pearls at each harvest. Akoya pearls are famous for their perfectly round shapes, called “eight way rollers” because they will roll smoothly in all eight directions when placed on a flat surface.  
  • Perfect Matching:Hanadama Akoya pearls are all expertly matched for body color, overtone, shape, size, luster and surface quality. Each pair of earrings or full strand necklace will feature extremely little variation in matching, creating perfectly matched pearl jewelry.
  • “Mirror-Like” Luster:Hanadama pearls are coveted for their intense, incredibly bright luster, able to reflect incredibly detailed objects in their surfaces. The Hanadama pearl type is the only pearl type that is actually certified to display the highest levels of luster of all Akoya pearls.  

Hanadama Pearl Value

Hanadama pearls are generally more valuable than non-certified Akoya pearls. Typically their pricing will be more in-line with large South Sea pearls or Tahitian Pearls. That said, these gorgeous pearls are not out of reach, and in our opinion worth the price upgrade.

Part of what drives the higher pricing is their rarity because these pearls are selected from only the highest quality Akoya pearl harvests, and the certification process itself, which can add $250-$350 USD to the pearls’ prices.

📢 Read More: How to Buy Pearls

Hanadama Akoya Pearl Value

Hanadama Pearl Jewelry Value Chart

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Hanadama Pearl Origins

Certified Hanadama Akoya pearls originate invariably from Japan, which is widely regarded as the birthplace of the Akoya pearl, but also as the source for the finest cultured Akoya pearls in the world, even today.

A cultured Akoya pearl at harvest.

After harvest and certification, Hanadama pearls are traditionally sold at the major jewelry shows overseas, such as the Hong Kong Gem and Jewellery Show, or at high-end pearl auctions where buyers can submit secret bids in an attempt to win the most precious pearls.

Pearls of Joy founder and owner Kevin Canning, is pictured here at one of his many trips to the Hong Kong Jewellery Show, hunting for rare pearls and great deals.



The name "Hanadama"was created by Kokichi Mikimoto himself.He used the name todesignate his prettiest, highest quality Akoya pearls from each of his pearl harvests. In Japanese, the name "Hanadama" roughly translates to "flower pearl".The pearls' pastel rose overtones resembled the pink colors of Japan's most famous flower: the cherry blossom.

All Hanadama Akoya pearls are chosen from AAA quality Akoya pearl harvests.These are the pearls that have the highest luster, Aurora effect and thickest nacre of all the pearls after harvest.The farmer or processing facility then sends their highest quality pearls to the Pearl Science Laboratory in Tokyo. The PSL is the organization responsible for testing and certifying Hanadama pearls.
After the certification process, the Hanadama pearlsare sent to auction, orare sold at the large jewelry shows overseas. Buyers bring these gorgeous treasures back to western jewelry markets.
Like all other Akoya pearls, Hanadama pearls are grown in thepinctada fucata martensii saltwater pearl oyster in Japan’s ocean bays. Oystersare grafted withperfectly round mother-of-pearl bead nuclei.A tiny piece of donor mantle tissue covers the bead nucleus, which helps kick-start pearl sac formation.
The grafted oysters are then hung in woven baskets thatare suspended from long lines while the pearlsslowly grow inside.Pearl growth time isideally 18-24 months … the longer in the water, the better from the pearl-lovers point of view, as the longer those pearls stay!

📢 Read More: Akoya Pearl Farming

Hanadama Pearl Certificates      

Every certified Hanadama pearl necklace or matched pair of pearl earrings comes with their own individually numbered Certificate from the Pearl Science Laboratory. These certificates guarantee your pearls have attained the highest levels of luster, orient and nacre thickness.

Close Up of Hanadama Pearls with PSL Certificate

Hanadama pearls are certified by the Pearl Science Laboratory (PSL) of Japan to have the very highest levels of luster, orient and nacre thickness.

Sample of Hanadama Pearl Certificate

A traditional Hanadama certificate that accompanies your new pearls. The certificate’s serial number is located on the just under the picture of your exact pearls.

Other important hallmarks include the PSL Pearl Mark logo, a red Hanadama Quality stamp in Japanese script and an iridescent rainbow surrounding the traditional Mikimoto-style pearl quality triangle.

Close Up of Hanadama Pearl Certificate Showing Overtone Analysis

Close up of the certificate detailing “Pink-Green” Iridescent coloring … basically, the pearl’s orient/aurora.

Close Up of Hanadama Certificate Detailing Aurora Effect

Close up of each necklace’s photo under the Pearl Science Lab’s exclusive “Aurora Viewer” light table which illuminates the lower half of the pearls to make that Pink-Green iridescent coloring more visible.

Specific details listed on each certificate are:

Exact Picture of your pearl necklace or pair of earrings

Individual Certificate Number

Pearl Size and Jewelry Style

Tests Administered which are Magnification for surface quality check, Inner Inspection by Optic Fiber for nacre thickness and verification of bead nucleus, Soft X-Ray Analysis for additional verification of nacre thickness, Teri-Value which measures luster levels. Aurora Viewer to determine visible presence of orient.

Major Qualifications that MUST be Met to Qualify for Hanadama Grade:

  • Luster(must exhibit "very strong" luster)
  • Nacre thickness(a min. of .8mm of total nacre)
  • Near flawless surface(only 1 "deep" inclusion per strand)
  • Orient/Aurora(a rainbow-like soap bubble effect on the surface of the pearl)

A Close Look at Hanadama Pearls

Hanadama Quality

All Akoya pearls are graded on the A-AAA Grading scale, with “A” grade representing the lowest commercial grades, and “AAA” denoting the best quality pearls from each harvest.

Hanadama Akoya pearls are selected for testing immediately after harvest from the premium AAA quality pearls. These are the best of the best of the AAA Akoya pearls … so technically, Hanadama pearls areAAA quality Akoya.

They are separated out from the A-AAA Grading charts because they’ve been sent for certification to specifically qualify as the finest cultured pearls within each harvest with having the highest rated luster levels, thickest nacre and most visually apparent Aurora (orient) effect.

Pearl graders and jewelers use seven common “value factors” when grading and appraising pearls to assign a monetary value to these gems. Of those seven value factors, five attributes are used to evaluate them and place them in their correct place on the A-AAA Grading scale.

The 5 Major Pearl Grading Attributes are:

  • Surface Quality
  • Luster
  • Nacre Thickness
  • Shape
  • Matching
Hanadama Pearl  Grading Example

  • Shape: True Round, No Deviation from Perfectly Spherical Shape
  • Surface Quality: 95-99% Clean to the Eye. 1 Deep Inclusion Allowable for Full Strand.
  • Luster: Excellent / Mirror-Like. Detailed Reflections Visible in Surfaces
  • Matching: Near-Perfect to Perfect for Size, Shape, Body Color, Overtone, Surface Quality and Luster
  • Nacre Thickness: Minimum of 0.4mm Deep on Each Side of Pearl

*** For Hanadama Pearls Measurable Aurora / Orient Effect Must Be Present ***

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Hanadama VS. AAA Quality Akoya Pearls

This is a common conundrum for Akoya pearl buyers … should you go with the certified Hanadama pearls, or stick with the AAA quality Akoya?

The answer is different for everybody, and depends on what you’re looking for in fine pearl jewelry, what you want to do with those pearls and how much you want to spend.

Hanadama vs AAA Quality Akoiya Pearls: Hanadma Pearl Close-Up

Multiple strands of Hanadama Akoya pearls showcasing their stunning luster and Aurora. The high quality and beauty of these pearls is obvious at first glance.

Hanadama vs AAA Akoya Pearls: AAA Quality Akoya Close-Up

AAA quality Akoya pearls showing luster levels that are nearly as intense as the Hanadama pearls, trademark perfectly round shapes and subtle iridescence.

Choose Hanadama Pearls If: you are looking for the absolute best of the best in terms of what the classic white Akoya pearl has to offer: extremely bright, highly reflective luster, visible Aurora (rainbow) effect and thick, compact nacre. A genuine, individually numbered certificate that the pearls have undergone an array of scientific testing to guarantee that your Akoya pearls are among the cream of the crop.

Choose AAA Quality Akoya Pearls If: you love the traditional beauty of the Japanese Akoya pearl that comes close to the Hanadama, but certification isn’t that much of a big deal for you. AAA quality Akoya pearls are more flexible in what the pearls can be used for, and are a good choice when you want to create custom length pearl necklaces, earrings, pearl pendants and rings. Something to keep in mind when making this decision if this is more of a budgetary issue is that all Hanadama pearls are initially chosen from AAA quality harvests … so it is possible to purchase AAA pearls that approach Hanadama levels of luster and nacre thickness, just without the certification.

Natural Color Hanadama Pearls      

What are Natural Color Hanadama Pearls

Natural color Hanadama Akoya pearls usually feature a bright white “optic white” body color with pronounced luster and iridescence. They are completely untreated with bleaching and pinking process, and are naturally beautiful.

Traditional vs Natural Color Hanadama Pearls

Natural color Hanadama pearl necklaces versus “Classic” Hanadama Akoya pearls with a pronounced rose overtone. The “Classic” Hanadama pearls aren’t always this deeply rose in tone, this is just to showcase the contrasts in color.

Natural Color Hanadama Pearls Up Close with Greenish Undertones

Natural color Hanadama pearls close-up and personal. With this image, you can clearly see the greenish undertones.

For over 100 years, cultured Akoya pearls have gone through a process called “bleaching and pinking” … and it’s such a standard practice, that this ‘treatment’ is not disclosed on gemology reports or even considered necessary to disclose during a sale for Akoya pearls. It's simply part of how Akoya pearls are cultured.

What is bleaching and pinking?

"Bleaching" occurs immediately after an Akoya pearl harvest. Since the beginning … even back during Mikimoto’s time … most Akoya pearls once pulled from their oysters showed a distinctly greenish/brownish tinge ... Obviously no one wants a “green” pearl necklace!

A solution had to be found... and it was. The bleaching treatment involves soaking the newly harvested pearls in jars of a hydrogen peroxide solution and bombarded with UV light (hence the bleaching part) to remove the green, yellow, brown and even blue natural coloring.

“Pinking”happens after bleaching and the pearls are transferred to pinking jars and are made to soak in a pink-colored solution (the recipes are trade secrets) to re-absorb some of that coveted iridescent and rose coloring that everyone finds so flattering.

Natural color Hanadama pearls are pearls that skip all of that.

They are naturally beautiful at harvest-time, and do not need any extra steps to become jewelry quality. Natural color Hanadama pearls have only been available to pearl lovers at large for the past decade or so as demand has risen for cultured pearls as close to the “real deal” as possible.

Natural color Hanadama pearls are additionally certified by the PSL as having ZERO treatments of any kind … they’re handled like South Sea pearls after harvest, in which the pearls are removed from the oyster, scrubbed in a salt slurry and then polished with bamboo chips to bring out their shine. That’s it. Because the pearls are naturally beautiful, the rate of luster and Aurora effect are more visibly pronounced, making for an overall prettier pearl. And it’s all guaranteed by the PSL.

The Perfect Strand of Pearls

Natural Color Hanadama Pearls

Natural white Hanadama are Pearl Science Laboratory certified Hanadama pearls, with the added twist of being completely untreated.

Nearly all Akoya pearls are treated to some degree, but these natural white Hanadama are natural in color. That means no bleaching, no treatments and no enhancements.

To say these pearls are merely rare, would border on malpractice.

Watch Kevin Canning Talk About Natural Color Hanadama Pearls:

THE CONS:  Natural Color Hanadama pearls are not for everybody. That prettier pearl we mentioned really is prettier … as they say, "On Paper". They typically display a “bright white” color, with cool silver overtones and green to blue undertones … which not everyone can wear. Blondes, Red heads and older women with white hair will do better to stick with the Classic Hanadama rose overtones.

Women with yellow or olive undertones (those who tan easily … aka “winter” complexions) and ladies with very dark brunette to black hair colors should be able to carry off the Natural Color Hanadama Pearls easily and beautifully!

Hanadama Pearl Jewelry Styles

Akoya pearls offer modern pearl lovers a huge variety of design options, from timeless classics to new, modern styles scintillating with diamond accents. The slideshow below will guide you through our most popular and beloved jewelry designs.

Hanadama Pearl Jewelry Styles: Pearl Necklaces

Hanadama pearl strands are traditionally certified by the Pearl Science Lab as perfectly matched 18” hanks, which can later be knotted into full strands. Pearls are strung with a traditional white silk, double-knotted in between each pearl for added security, and finished with a 14kt gold clasp. Shop for Hanadama pearl necklaces here.

Hanadama Pearl Jewelry Styles: Pearl Earrings

Each pair of certified Hanadama pearl earrings is perfectly matched for body color, overtone, luster, surface quality and size … for size, pearls will feature no more than 0.05 mm difference with each match. Pearls are generally matched for classic pearl stud earring styles, meaning that pearls are drilled for setting as stud earrings as a norm, but customization for dangle pearl earrings are available on special request. Shop for Hanadama pearl earrings here.

Hanadama Pearl Jewelry Styles: Pearl Sets

Hanadama Akoya pearl jewelry sets are the ultimate in pearl luxury …What more could a woman ask for than a perfectly matched, gemologically certified Hanadama Akoya Pearl Set? Each two piece set includes a fully knotted 18” necklace and matching pair of certified Hanadama pearl earrings for the perfect look. Shop for Hanadama pearl sets here.

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