When you decide to buy pearls, it is important to know the difference between the many types of pearls available in the market. There are so many names and terminology used for the various pearls that it can be quite confusing especially when some pearls have two different names and some pearls are extremely costly while others are not so.
Japanese Akoya Pearls
The Akoya pearl comes from the Akoya oyster and is produced in Japan. But since of recent, they were also found to be grown in India and China as well. The Akoya pearl oyster is very small in size and therefore the pearl that is implanted is only about 2-10 mm in diameter. Being round or oval in shape they are found in shades of white, or cream with overtones of pink or silver. Akoya is considered to be the classic among cultured pearls and the best known and costly too.
Even in the study of Akoya pearls there is a difference in the culturing techniques of the freshwater pearls and saltwater pearls . While Akoya saltwater pearls can produce only about 4 to 5 pearls, freshwater mussels can produce more than 50 at a time. The only way to distinguish between cultured pearls and natural pearls is the shape where the cultured pearl is consistently round and has almost the same shape and therefore easy to match than the natural pearl which has different shapes and sizes.
Chinese Cultured Pearls
Chinese cultured pearls are also grown in farms and the word “cultured” is meant only to differentiate between the naturally grown and wild grown. Natural pearls are hardly found in today’s market because they are extremely rare and very seldom found. This was one of the reasons for the popularity of the cultured pearl since it was much easier to produce the cultured variety than find the very rare natural pearl which was also difficult to match being very round and very rare.
At the beginning, cultured pearls were not accepted as genuine; but thanks to the marketing skills of the Japanese, Mikimoto was able to market and popularize the sale of the cultured pearl which caught on very soon and more and more people started getting used to wearing the cultured Mikimoto or Akoya pearls which were considered to be the best among cultured pearls.
Although the cultured pearl had its beginnings in China, it was Japan that really developed and marketed it to make it popular around the world. So, while one cannot really say which is the better of the two, it has to be admitted that the Japanese Akoya or cultured pearl is thought of as being more superior and of better quality than Chinese variety although the Chinese might not think so.