Akoya Pearls are saltwater pearls from the Akoya oyster (Pinctada Fucata Martensii), which are usually cultured. These pearls are typically round in shape and their natural body colors normally range from light pink to white and white to yellowish. Thus round shape, white color and brilliant luster feature them. Because of the round shape, they are characterized by white color and brilliant luster. They tend to be small--from 2mm to 10mm.
Akoya pearls were saltwater pearls that were first cultured in the early 20th century. They were mass-produced making pearls affordable for the first time to people in general. Akoya pearls are still considered one of the highest quality cultured pearl varieties behind the South Sea and Tahitian pearls although their production in Japan has declined slightly due to water pollution and disease.
Even though they are traditionally a Japanese specialty and often called Japanese pearls, they can also be found in oysters outside of Japan. In fact, China has become the major producer of Akoya pearls less than 7 mm in size. Over 80% of smaller Akoya pearls from China may be marked with a "Made in Japan" label and then enter the international market. Korea, Hong Kong and Sri Lanka are already culturing pearls using the Akoya oyster. Currently, most Akoya pearls over 7 mm are cultured in Japan.