It’s safe to say that pearls are among the most popular gemstones. An increasing number of pearl enthusiasts turn to these objects of beauty and they’ll certainly remain cherished for many centuries to come. We’ve seen pearls adorn the necks of famous style icons and celebrities causing people across the world to choose them as the ultimate accessory to create a timeless and sophisticated look.
Pearls are the only gemstones to come naturally from a living creature. However, since they are a rarity, a famous Japanese pearl farmer decided to make a name in the pearl industry and mark the beginning of a new trend by creating the world’s first cultured Akoya pearl.
Today, most pearls on the market are cultured and the Akoya pearl is the most coveted one. A true pearl lover must have this type of pearl in their jewelry box and if not, then it’s high time to buy them.
However, before rushing to the jewelry shop, you must check whether the gem is worth the money you’re planning to spend. In this article, we help you identify the quality and value of Akoya pearls to ensure that you make the right purchase.
Akoya Pearls Quality and Grading
The grading scale used to define the parameters of the quality and value of the renowned Akoya pearl can feel complex to many people. Below you can read about the standard six used to determine the level of quality of the pearl jewelry you’ve set your eyes on.
Luster means how much light is reflected in the pearl. The luster of an Akoya pearl is generally the highest among all pearl types, but their luster also differs from one another.
A high-quality Akoya pearl will have a very reflective surface whereas the reflected light in a lower-quality pearl will come across as blurry and poorly defined. The Akoya pearl’s luster increases when the water temperature is lower, so the harvesting of pearls takes place mainly in the spring before the water temperature rises.
It’s said that when an Akoya pearl has been created organically and is untreated, it is white with natural hues. The classic special Akoya tone is white with a faint pink undertone. It’s also common for them to be completely white but it’s extremely rare to find these pearls in the color blue with a hint of silver. There are also citrus yellow and gold hues. A clear and distinct color tone makes the pearl rare, increasing the price.
A clean smooth surface means that the quality of the pearl is ranked higher. All pearls are natural variations, but if you do not see any variations without magnification, the surface is considered perfect.
A high-grade Akoya pearl will have at least a 95 percent clean surface but even then, it’s completely normal for the pearl to have slight imperfections or blemishes.
The Akoya pearls are known for their naturally perfect round shape, but it has a peculiarity, the so-called dragon tail which is a small outgrowth on the otherwise round pearl. Beads with a dragon tail are classified as “Standard quality”. A, AA, and AAA quality pearls have no dragon tail.
In simple words, if you find a “near-round” or “off-round” shaped Akoya pearl, the quality is not the best and its value is much lower.
The Akoya mussel is small with a diameter of about 8 cm. This is why you don’t get larger beads than about 10 mm. Due to the size of the beads, an average Akoya measures between 3.0 to 9.5 mm. It’s not impossible to find an Akoya pearl measuring 9.5 to 10.0 mm in size but this is extremely rare.
Pearl lovers mostly search for an Akoya pearl between 7 and 8 mm in size, as they can be edited and shaped by jewelry markets that end up making all kinds of different jewelry.
The depth of the nacre of the oyster has a direct impact on the luster, durability, value, and overall quality of the pearl. Therefore, Akoya pearls of larger diameter are most sought-after as they would have been created in a larger oyster and have a brighter luster as a result of growing in a thicker lining of nacre.
It takes significant time and knowledge to create an Akoya pearl. The process is complex and costly so it’s no wonder why Akoya pearls are so treasured.
As there are many scammers out there, do your research, take the above parameters into consideration when checking the quality of the Akoya pearl, and always request an authentication certificate.