Akoya and Freshwater Pearls, Differences, Which one to buy?
Pearls are one of the most beloved gems in the world. Unlike other gemstones, these are not found underground and are organically produced in living organisms, like mother clams and pearl shellfish. Depending on their types, they can range from hundreds or less to millions of dollars.
All pearl types might look identical to you at first look, but in reality, they are way too different. Each of them has distinguishable factors to suit different tastes. If you are planning to buy pearls or pearl jewelry, you must know how to identify the difference between types of pearls.
To help you out, we have come up with a blog focusing on a comparative analysis between Akoya and Freshwater Pearls, the two most popular cultured pearls found in the market. It will help you make an intelligent decision.
What are Akoya Pearls?
Akoya Pearls are ‘Bead-Nucleated” pearls cultivated by artificially placing a perfectly round nucleus within the oyster. This nucleus is made up of high-quality shell material and promotes the formation of the pearl.
Akoya Pearls come from Japan, China, and other parts of Southeast Asia. Akoya is the name of the small oysters found in Japan’s Saltwater. From these oysters, Akoya Pearls got its name. Akoya oysters can produce 1 to 2 pearls at a single time, leading to a higher price.
Akoya Pearls take about 10 to 18 months to get cultivated. To ensure the thicker layers of the nacre and quality, the pearl is given a longer time to mature.
What are Freshwater Pearls?
Freshwater Pearls are “Tissue Nucleated” pearls cultivated by harvesting a 1.0mm sq piece of mantle tissue from the donor mussel and placing it inside the host mussel. The donor tissue then works as the nuclei and promotes pearl formation.
Freshwater Pearls come from Japan and the United States on a limited scale. Now, these are highly produced in China also. This pearl type is closest to the pearl composition of natural pearls formed on its own in the wild.
Freshwater Pearls take around 3 to 5 years to cultivate. And a single pearl mussel can produce over 25 pearls at a single time.
What are the main differences between Akoya and Freshwater Pearls?
Ideal shape of Akoya pearls is perfectly round. The Akoya pearls that are uniformly shaped are higher valued. You will also find these pearls in free-form baroque shapes, but mainly, round-shaped Akoya pearls are used in pearl jewelry.
Freshwater pearls are available in different shapes, including round, near-round, free-form baroque, button, off-round, and drop shapes. The most common shapes used in pearl jewelry are off-round and near-round, which have an oval look. And the rarest shape of freshwater pearls is round and is the most expensive.
Akoya pearls have a bright and reflective luster, while freshwater pearls have a soft, satin luster. You can see your face reflected in the highest grade Akoya pearls. However, the pearl luster purely depends on the quality of the pearl and its cultivation process.
Freshwater pearls are available in different colors, while Akoya color options are limited. Freshwater pearls are available in different colors like peach, black, white, gray, purple, pink, blue-green, and gold. On the other hand, Akoya pearls are available in white, silver-gray, cream, or pale neutral colors.
Freshwater pearls have creamy overtones, and Akoya pearls have pink or silver overtones. Both these pearl types can be bleached and get an artificial whiter color.
Freshwater pearls and Akoya pearls can be smaller to larger in size. However, in most cases, Freshwater pearls are larger than Akoya pearls.
Akoya pearls are formed by the smallest pearl-bearing oyster, making them limited in size. These can range from 2.0mm to 9.5mm. In rare cases, these can also range up to 10.0mm. On the other hand, Freshwater pearls can be found in a wider range of sizes and are expected to get larger in upcoming years. These can range from 2.0mm to 14.0mm. In extreme cases, these can reach up to 50mm in height.
Akoya pearls are more expensive than Freshwater pearls. Natural Akoya pearls, grown in Pinctada Fucata Martensii, a saltwater oyster species, are extremely rare and expensive. And Freshwater pearls are commonly seen in the jewelry market because of their affordable price range.
The price of Akoya pearls can range as low as $100 to $400 and as high as $10,000 or more. On the other hand, Freshwater pearls can cost as low as $20 to $65 and as high as $5000 or more.
Pearls are also found with some flaws. Akoya pearls might contain minor, barely noticeable blemishes or slight color variations. They might have small wrinkles on their surfaces. Similarly, Freshwater pearls might have chalky or cloudy spots on their layer, which are noticeable at a close distance. Even after having these flaws, both Akoya and freshwater pearls look beautiful.
Why should you buy Akoya Pearls?
Akoya Pearl is admired for its perfectly round shape and white hue. The best quality Akoya pearl has a reflective metallic luster. You can buy Akoya pearls, if
♦ You want to add elegance and classiness to your jewelry box that can last for a lifetime,
♦ Your budget is above $350, and
♦ You are looking for perfectly round pearl shapes.
Why should you buy Freshwater Pearls?
Freshwater Pearl is available in beautiful white and pastel hues. It has an alluring creamy overtone. Its off-round shape and subtle glow make it a must-buy. You can buy Freshwater pearls, if
♦ You are specifically looking for a durable option,
♦ Your budget is under $300, and
♦ You want variation in the pearl shapes.
Akoya Pearls or Freshwater Pearls: Which one is better?
♦ Akoya pearls and Freshwater pearls mainly differ in their luster. Akoya pearl, being a saltwater pearl, has a more superficial luster than Freshwater pearl.
♦ Freshwater pearls have a thicker nacre layer than Akoya pearls.
♦ Akoya pearls are cultivated along the coasts of Japan and China, and
♦ Freshwater pearls are cultivated in lakes and ponds. Akoya pearls are bead-nucleated, i.e., the mantle tissue or the mother-of-pearl bead is inserted into the Akoya oyster; on the other hand, Freshwater pearls are mantle-tissue nucleated, i.e., the mantle tissue is inserted into the mussel’s mantle tissue.
♦ Freshwater pearls are less pricey than Akoya pearls. You can find more color options in Freshwater pearls, while Akoya pearls are available in white, blue, and yellow colors with different overtones.
♦ Akoya pearls are round, while freshwater pearls are off-round in shape.
♦ Freshwater pearls are more durable than Akoya pearls.
♦ Freshwater pearls are more budget-friendly than Akoya pearls. However, the
♦ Akoya pearls have a comparatively luxurious appearance.
Now, the question comes, which out of Akoya and Freshwater pearls should you buy? So, both these pearl types have their distinct features. You must focus on the pearl’s price, luster, shape, size, and color requirements and blend it with your aesthetic needs.
We suggest you pick Freshwater pearls for a more ‘Casual’ appearance and Akoya pearls for an ‘Elegant High-End’ appearance.
That’s everything you need to know about Akoya Pearls v/s Freshwater Pearls. You can explore our wide range of Akoya and freshwater pearl jewelry today!