Susan Miller

·Master of Fine Arts in Jewelry Design, Pratt Institute, 2012

·Bachelor of Arts in Gemology, University of California, Los Angeles, May 2005

·Editor-in-Chief, White Victoria (2018 - present)

·Write and research feature articles and profiles for print and online publication

·Contributing Writer, Modern Jeweler and Ornament

·Write and publish freelance articles for IGS and WSJ Magazine

·Jewelry Appraiser (2012 - 2020)

Welcome to the Akoya Pearl Buyer's Guide: Everything You Need to Know.

The Akoya pearl necklace is an iconic and cherished piece of jewellery, revered for its timeless elegance and radiant lustre.

The Akoya pearl has earned its place in the hearts of jewellery enthusiasts worldwide. 

Whether you're a seasoned pearl connoisseur or a novice looking to make a stunning addition to your collection, this guide, brought to you by White Victoria, offers a wealth of comprehensive information to assist you in making an informed decision when buying Akoya pearls.

akoya pearls guide

Dive into the world of Akoya pearls and discover the beauty and sophistication they bring to any jewellery collection.

Akoya Pearls Basics

Let's delve into the fundamentals of Akoya Pearls:

Characteristics of Akoya Pearls

akoya pearls guide

1. Perfectly Round Shape and High Luster:

Akoya pearls are renowned for their impeccable round shape, a hallmark of their quality.

This symmetrical perfection, combined with their high luster, results in a dazzling, reflective surface that exudes elegance.

2. Uniformity Among Pearls in a Necklace:

Akoya pearls are meticulously sorted for uniformity in size, shape, and color.

This attention to detail ensures that the pearls harmonise seamlessly when strung into a necklace, creating a stunning and consistent appearance.

3. White Body Color with Subtle Overtones:

Akoya pearls typically boast a pristine white body color.

However, what sets them apart are the delicate overtones that grace their surfaces, lending a touch of sophistication and allure.

These subtle overtones can include hints of rose, cream, or silver.

Hanadama Akoya Pearls - Considered the Highest Quality Akoya Pearls

akoya pearls guide

Hanadama Akoya pearls represent the pinnacle of Akoya pearl quality.

Pearls must meet stringent criteria for perfection, luster, and surface quality.

These pearls are considered the finest within the Akoya pearl category and are cherished for their exceptional beauty.

Size Range of Akoya Pearls

akoya pearls guide

Akoya pearls come in various sizes, most commonly falling between 6mm and 9.5mm.

However, the 7.5-8.0mm size reigns as the most popular choice among pearl enthusiasts.

This size balances elegance and wearability, making it versatile for various jewellery pieces, from necklaces to earrings.

Whether you prefer a dainty or more substantial look, the size range of Akoya pearls caters to diverse tastes and styles.

What Makes Akoya Pearls Beautiful?

akoya pearls guide

The captivating beauty of Akoya pearls can be attributed to the remarkable intricacies of their nacre.

Nacre, a substance produced by molluscs, forms the essence of a pearl.

Nacre's delicate layers intertwine, creating a mesmerising iridescence.

The crystalline structure of nacre plays a pivotal role in the pearl's allure. 

When light penetrates this crystalline matrix, it refracts and reflects, generating the characteristic luminosity and exquisite overtones that enchant Akoya pearls.

The precision of this crystalline structure, carefully developed over time, determines the depth of lustre and the unique, iridescent quality that distinguishes Akoya pearls as exquisite gems.

Akoya Pearl Origins

akoya pearls guide

The captivating story of Akoya pearls traces back to the visionary Kokichi Mikimoto, who revolutionised pearl cultivation in the early 20th century.

Mikimoto's pioneering work led to the development of cultured Akoya pearls, forever changing the pearl industry.

He introduced the world to spherical Akoya pearls through meticulous dedication by employing surgical grafting techniques. 

This breakthrough innovation ensured that Akoya pearls possessed unparalleled symmetry and lustre.

The pearls produced through Mikimoto's methods have become synonymous with excellence, embodying a harmonious blend of tradition and technology.

Today, Akoya pearls continue to enchant and adorn, perpetuating a rich legacy of beauty and elegance.

The Akoya Pearl Farms 

Cultivation Countries

akoya pearls guide

1. Japan:

Japan is the birthplace and heart of Akoya pearl farming.

Renowned for its meticulous craftsmanship, Japan's Akoya pearl farms are globally acclaimed for producing some of the finest pearls.

The cold Pacific Ocean waters surrounding Japan provide the ideal conditions for cultivating these exquisite pearls.

Japanese Akoya pearls are prized for their exceptional lustre, perfectly round shapes, and captivating overtones.

akoya pearls guide

2. Vietnam:

Emerging as a significant player in the Akoya pearl industry, Vietnam boasts farms that benefit from similar Pacific Ocean waters.

Vietnamese Akoya pearls are celebrated for their quality and affordability, making them appealing to those seeking elegance on a budget.

akoya pearls guide

3. China:

China has also entered the Akoya pearl cultivation arena, yet Japan's legacy remains unparalleled.

Japanese pearls are highly regarded due to stringent quality control, traditional harvesting methods, and a heritage of excellence.

While Chinese Akoya pearls may offer competitive prices, Japan's dominance in the market remains unchallenged.

akoya pearls guide

Characteristics of Japanese Akoya Pearl Farming

1. Ideal conditions in cold Pacific Ocean waters:

The frigid waters of the Pacific Ocean around Japan create an environment conducive to the formation of luminous Akoya pearls.

The temperature fluctuations in these waters lead to slower pearl growth, resulting in a more compact nacre and enhanced lustre.

akoya pearls guide

2. Role of Ama pearl divers:

Japan's Akoya pearl farming is enriched by the tradition of Ama pearl divers – skilled women who dive without modern diving equipment to harvest oysters.

Their expertise and sustainable practices have been integral to maintaining the integrity of pearl beds, ensuring the continued production of top-quality Akoya pearls.

The dedication of these divers remains an enduring symbol of Japan's commitment to excellence in pearl farming.

Akoya Pearl Shapes

akoya pearls guide

Akoya pearls are renowned for their near-perfect round shape, setting them apart in the world of pearls.

This distinctive feature contributes to their classic and timeless appeal, making them a preferred choice for many jewellery enthusiasts. 

While the round shape is the most coveted, it's worth noting that Akoya pearls can also be found in other captivating and rare shapes, such as baroque, Keshi, and drops.

Each of these unique shapes adds its touch of individuality and character to Akoya pearl jewellery, catering to diverse tastes and preferences within the world of pearl adornments.

Akoya Pearl Colors

akoya pearls guide

With its immaculate sheen and understated charm, the traditional white Akoya pearl remains a perennial favourite among enthusiasts.

These pearls often exhibit delicate overtones, manifest in shades of rose, silver, or cream, enhancing their allure and adding a touch of uniqueness to each pearl.

While white is the quintessential Akoya pearl color, it's worth noting that these treasures from the sea can come in a variety of hues.

Some Akoya pearls occur naturally in shades like ivory or champagne, presenting a softer, more organic palette.

In contrast, some are subject to dyeing processes to achieve bolder and more vibrant colors, broadening the options available to consumers.

To truly appreciate the enchanting world of Akoya pearl colors, one can explore these pearls in their natural habitat – within the shells themselves.

Observing the diversity of shades that Akoya pearls can manifest is a fascinating journey into the artistry of nature. 

Akoya Pearl Overtones

akoya pearls guide

Pearls possess a natural radiance that goes beyond their luminous surface.

This additional layer of beauty is referred to as "pearl overtones."

These overtones are subtle hues that shimmer over the pearl's primary body color, enhancing its visual appeal.

For white Akoya pearls, three traditional overtones are particularly renowned.

The "rose" overtone infuses a delicate, rosy blush, exuding a romantic and feminine charm.

In contrast, the "silver" overtone imparts a silvery sheen, evoking a calm and sophisticated aura.

Lastly, the "cream" overtone bathes the pearl in a warm, creamy hue, adding a touch of timeless elegance.

These overtones, whether rose, silver, or cream, are vital in defining the pearl's overall character, making Akoya pearls luminous and uniquely captivating.

When selecting your Akoya pearls, consider the interplay of these overtones to find the perfect strand that complements your style and preferences.

Akoya Pearl Sizes

akoya pearls guide

Akoya pearl oysters produce diverse pearl sizes, catering to various tastes and preferences.

These lustrous gems can range from as small as 2mm to a more substantial 10mm or even more prominent in diameter.

Regarding Akoya pearl necklaces, the most popular sizes typically fall within the 7mm to 8mm range. 

These sizes strike a perfect balance, offering elegance and versatility.

They're ideal for formal occasions and everyday wear, exuding a timeless charm that complements many outfits.

However, the choice of size ultimately depends on personal style and budget, making it essential to explore the spectrum of sizes available.

Akoya Pearl Grading

akoya pearls guide

Akoya Pearl Grading is a crucial aspect when selecting these exquisite gems.

The A-AAA Grading Scale assesses pearls based on size, shape, surface quality, and luster.

AAA pearls are the finest, displaying exceptional brilliance, mirror-like surfaces, and perfectly round shapes. 

AA+ pearls, while high-quality, may have slightly less lustre and minor imperfections.

However, the most significant distinction between the two lies in lustre—AAA pearls boast an unparalleled, radiant glow, making them highly sought after.

When choosing Akoya pearls, understanding these grading criteria ensures you make an informed choice, whether seeking the ultimate luxury of AAA or the excellent value of AA+.

What Are Hanadama Akoya Pearls?

akoya pearls guide

Hanadama Akoya pearls are the epitome of perfection, renowned as the highest quality.

These exquisite gems result from meticulous cultivation and selection, characterised by their impeccable lustre, near-flawless surface, and alluring overtones.

Each Hanadama pearl undergoes rigorous evaluation, ensuring it meets the most stringent standards in the industry. 

The name "Hanadama" translates to "flower pearl," and these pearls truly blossom with unparalleled brilliance and elegance.

These exceptional gems are cherished for their breathtaking beauty.

They are often considered the finest representation of Akoya pearls, making them a prized choice for those seeking luxury and sophistication in their pearl jewellery.

Common Akoya Pearl Treatments

akoya pearls guide

Akoya pearls, known for their exquisite beauty, can undergo post-harvest treatments to enhance their color and overall quality.

One prevalent treatment is bleaching, which lightens the pearls to achieve a more uniform and appealing color.

Another technique is dyeing, where pearls are carefully colored to meet specific market demands or to conceal natural imperfections. 

Additionally, irradiation may enhance the pearls' overtone, giving them a desirable, iridescent glow.

These treatments can significantly improve the appearance of Akoya pearls.

Still, buyers must know them when purchasing, ensuring transparency and informed choices in acquiring these precious gems.

Akoya Pearl Jewelry Guide 

Akoya Pearl Necklace Styles

akoya pearls guide

Explore the world of Akoya pearl necklaces, where classic and contemporary designs merge seamlessly.

Classic styles include timeless single-strand necklaces that exude sophistication and elegance, perfect for formal occasions.

Modern interpretations feature multi-strand and layered necklaces, adding a touch of glamour to any ensemble.

Akoya Pearl Bracelets

akoya pearls guide

Discover the beauty of single-strand Akoya pearl bracelets, a symbol of refined simplicity.

These bracelets showcase the luminous Akoya pearls in their purest form, making them an exquisite choice for casual and formal wear.

Elevate your wrist with the understated luxury of Akoya pearl bracelets.

Akoya Pearl Earrings

akoya pearls guide

Indulge in the allure of Akoya pearl stud earrings adorned with dazzling diamond accents.

These earrings epitomise timeless elegance and can effortlessly elevate your everyday look.

Akoya pearl earrings offer an enduring charm that never goes out of style.

Akoya Pearl Pendants

akoya pearls guide

Enhance your neckline with Akoya pearl pendants featuring diamond bezel settings.

These pendants combine the classic beauty of pearls with the brilliance of diamonds, creating a stunning and versatile accessory that complements various necklines and occasions.

Immerse yourself in the world of Akoya pearl jewellery and elevate your style with these exquisite pieces.


akoya pearls guide

The Akoya Pearl Buyer's Guide has provided a comprehensive journey into the world of these exquisite gems.

From their origins and characteristics to the various styles of jewellery they adorn, this guide equips you with the knowledge needed to make an informed choice when selecting Akoya pearls.

Dive into elegance, tradition, and timeless beauty with these captivating pearls.