Akoya cultured pearls
Akoya pearls come from oysters found in the southern and western areas of the Japanese Islands. The host pearl, pincata martesi fucata was discovered in the mid-19th Century and has been successfully bred from since the turn of the century.
Breeding from the host oyster can only take place if all the prerequisites are met and that the conditions are favourable. Insemination takes place in the warmer months between April and August.
Akoya oysters are particularly small and sensitive. The pearls they produce have are between 2 and 9 millimetres in diameter. There is no guarantee that the breeder will harvest any pearls in the winter. It is often the case that the host pearl has rejected the donor and therefore no pearl is produced.
Akoya pearls harvested at this time, also known as “Hama-age”, are washed and roughly graded by weight. The unit of weight is known as a momme which is an old Japanese unit equating to 3.75g. The weighed and measured pearls are then ready to be auctioned to the highest bidder.
The majority of the Akoya pearls are strung and made into necklaces or chockers but they can be seen adorning rings, earrings, broches or tie-pins.