Japanese Akoya Pearls vs Chinese Akoya Pearls
Traditionally, the Japanese have carefully guarded their pearl cultivation secrets. In 1994, the Japanese held over 66 percent of the world market (by value) for Akoya pearls; today they only hold 11 percent. Here is a comparison of Japanese and Chinese Akoya pearls.
Pearl Production in Japan and China
The Japanese have a century's head start over China in cultured pearl production. With their well-guarded secrets in producing pearls, they have been the unchallenged leaders in Akoya pearl production. China however came into the picture only 40 years ago and while the Chinese have been developing new techniques, they have experienced only limited success. In the 1900s the Chinese produced commercial quality Akoya pearls but that are still far below the quality standards of Japanese Akoya pearls.
Akoya Pearls - Quality
Generally speaking, Japanese Akoya pearls are higher quality than Chinese Akoyas. They also have higher luster and thicker nacre than Chinese Akoya pearls. Higher quality pearls originate from Japan since, as of now, the latter still hold the best processing techniques. These include better cleaning, bleaching, treating, sorting and matching. It might be useful to remember here that while China produces lower quality pearls, not all pearls from Japan are of high quality. One must make purchases from trusted sources.
What is the Size of your Akoya Pearls?
If Akoya pearls are small in size and below 7mm in diameter, these Akoya pearls were probably produced in China. But if the pearls are beautiful and large, they could be Japanese Akoya Pearls. Japanese Akoya pearls are bigger in size and range from 7-10 mm. Chinese Akoya pearls, on the other hand, are much smaller in size ranging from 5-8 mm.
Other Features of Japanese Akoya Pearls
Japanese Akoya pearls usually have beautiful and rich pinkish overtones. Also, genuine Japanese Akoya pearls are much more expensive, often costing four times as much as their cheaper Chinese Akoya counterparts. Their higher price is also partially a reflection of the higher labor and technology expenses in Japan.
It is always better to buy Japanese Akoya pearls. They have a thick nacre that gives a deep rich luster that is truly missing in Chinese Akoyas. However, it can be difficult for the buyer to spot the differences between the two kinds of pearls. Many customers buy cheap Chinese Akoya pearls at high prices. When shopping for pearls, shop at a trustworthy, reliable store, where you are sure to get quality Japanese Akoya pearls.