The Tedious, Rewarding Task of Akoya Pearl Farming

August 11, 2017 by Kiesha Joseph

Akoya pearls are the most desired types of pearls among all cultured pearls. Many people worldwide love these beautiful gems. But, Akoya pearl farming, the old-fashioned deep-sea diving way, drives up the costs of buying pearls. Luckily, there are pearl farmers who use a method that produces genuine pearls, without the hassle of deep sea dives.

Raising them on Land with Akoya Pearl Farming

It takes a considerably long period of time for a pearl farmer to produce Akoya pearls. The average Akoya pearl farming process – from beginning to harvest, is about 10-18 months. This gives the pearls time to secrete multiple layers of nacre, the substance that “creates” the pearl.

Akoya pearl farming is challenging because Akoya pearls are the hardest to grow. This is because the survival rates of the oysters producing these pearls are very low. These oysters require a lot of care and protection for them to produce quality pearls. Pearl farmers frequently pour medication, organic fertilizers, nutrients and food into the water where the oysters are stored.

Farmed oysters require the right temperature and conditions to thrive. That’s why they are frequently lowered and raised in and out of the water, so optimal conditions to be achieved. Because they have such a low survival rate, Akoya pearls are very rare. Research shows that only less than fifty (50%) percent of the oysters survive the process of nucleation.

Nucleated Akoya Pearls

Nucleation is a crucial process for producing pearls. Nucleating involves carefully opening an oyster and inserting an irritant, which is normally a bead with a hard shell or mantle tissue. In either case, it will come from another oyster that has successfully produced a high-quality pearl. The irritant is inserted between the oyster’s soft tissue and shell.

The nucleating process is very involving and delicate. Many oysters don’t survive the process. Additionally, an oyster can only be nucleated once in its lifetime. After the first nucleation, the oyster is discarded. It may be used as a delicatessen, but it will never produce pearls again.

Less than 50% of Akoya oysters survive the nucleation process. And, less than 5% of those oysters are capable of producing high-quality pearls. Despite this, pearl farmers harvest more Akoya pearls in a year than any other type of cultured pearl.

Akoya pearl farming produces some of the most desirable gems on the market. They come in a beautiful white color, featuring rose overtones. Pearl fans love them in necklaces and other pearl jewelry. In fact, these gems are the most commonly used pearls when jewelers create cultured pearl necklaces.