White. Round. Luscious.

These are the first three words that come to mind when asked to describe an Akoya Pearl.

Pearls have been a symbol of beauty and purity for centuries. Considered both classic and contemporary women worldwide wear pearls for their classy elegance and understated style. Nothing rivals the lustre of a top quality pearl.

A Proud History

The Japanese have been the undisputed champion in Akoya pearl farming.

Japanese Akoya pearls epitomize classic grace and quality.

Pearliculture of Akoya pearls only began 100 years ago with the technique developed by William Saville-Kent and used by Kokichi Mikimoto – the same technique of nucleus insertion used today. In fact Mr Mikimoto first succeeded to cultivate the first cultured pearl back in 1893.

The Rarity of an Akoya Pearl

Akoya pearls are organic gemstones, meaning that it is produced by a living organism, or specifically a saltwater oyster.

The pearls are cultured in oysters by inserting a piece of mother of pearl shell into the oyster. The oyster responds to the discomfort by covering it with layers of nacre.Up to one thousand nacre layers and many years later, a full pearl is formed.

An Akoya oyster produces one pearl in its lifetime, after which it dies and its flesh is used as fish feed. Freshwater pearls cultured in clams produce 30-100 pearls in its lifetime.

Akoya pearls are therefore rarer and have a higher perceived value to freshwater pearls.

What makes a quality pearl?


Orient Atelier selects its Akoya pearls for its lustre which refers to the intensity of light reflected in the pearl’s surface. We consider lustre the most important value factor in selecting a good Akoya pearl.

Excellent – Reflections appear bright, crisp and distinct
Good – Reflections appear to be bright but not distinct
Fair – Reflections are weak and blur surface
Poor – Reflections are non-existent. Surface cannot be made distinguished.

A pearl’s nacre quality determines its lustre which in turn influences its value.

While South Sea pearls are known to shine like silk, the hallmark of an Akoya pearl is its brilliant lustre that you can see your crisp reflection in.


A quality Akoya Pearl is a perfect round shape. While irregular shapes exist they are considered uncommon. At Orient Atelier our Akoya Pearls are chosen for their perfect round shape.


Akoya pearl sizes range from 2-11 mm. The average size is considered between 6-8mm range. The Akoya oyster is releatively small so it doesn’t usually produce a pearl larger than 9mm.  As with most gemstones a pearl’s value increases disproportionately with its size because a well-formed pearl is more rare than a smaller sized one.


Akoya pearls are usually white with a slight silver, rose or cream overtone.

Nacre Quality

Lustre and nacre quality are closely related. The nacre is thin if the nucleus is visible under the nacre or if the pearl appears dull and chalky. A badly formed nacre affects the lustre and durability of the pearl.

Surface Quality

Bear in mind that pearls are formed by living creatures.

Like coloured stones most pearls never achieve perfection. Some might show abrasions that look like a series of scratches on the surface, a flattened section or even an irregular ridge that looks like a crease or wrinkle.

Orient Atelier selects our pearls to be as free of blemishes as possible. However we do find that a small blemish is rather becoming of an Akoya Pearl if in a spot that isn’t too visible by the naked eye. It assures us that the pearl is not fake. 😉

How do I choose my pearls?


A white pearl overtone

Suitable for:
Darker and olive complexions.
Dark haired women.

The bright white body and bluish-green undertones give contrast to darker skin tones and hair colour bringing out the pearls’ beauty.

A blush pink over white

Suitable for:
Fair skin tones.
Light to medium dark brunettes

The warming tone of yellow and faint pink compliments lighter skin. Pairing it with yellow gold helps the rose pearl stand out.

Creamy white pearl body.

Suitable for:
Pink or red complexion undertones.
Cool hair colours.

As the cream pearl is considered warm it contrasts deeper complexions. The finest Cream pearls have streaks of violet.

Thank you for reading!

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