Where are Japanese Akoya Pearls farmed ?
June 14, 2011
White Akoya pearls are loved for the high quality of their lustre, their exquisitely round shapes and their pink overtone. An Akoya pearl necklace and a pair of Akoya pearl earrings have been a classic jewellery box item for many years.
Since the invention of a technique for culturing pearls in the early part of the 1900s, the Akoya cultured pearl industry in Japan has been located in the Southern part of the country and towards the Pacific Ocean.
These areas include the Mie Prefecture in Honshu, the Ehime Prefecture in Shikoku and the Nagasaki and Kumamoto Prefectures in Kyushu. Ago Bay, in the Mie Prefecture, is one of the best known locations.
The site of a typical saltwater pearl farm is carefully selected for its environmental characteristics. Farmers look for small, well protected bays and inlets, which will protect the oysters and provide a rich flow of nutrients.
Most of the estimated 500 farms are still family owned businesses that farm pearls from an average stock of around 200,000 oysters each, although there are also a number of larger farming companies with over several million molluscs.
The pearl industry in Japan has enjoyed strong growth over the years but has recently suffered major setbacks from environmental algae blooms and competition from Freshwater pearl and also Akoya pearl production in China. The recent devastating tsunami hit the North East of Japan and the majority of pearl farms in the South were physically unaffected, although the economic impact may be felt for some time to come.