Akoya Pearls Vs. Freshwater Pearls

January 18, 2019 0 Comments

Akoya, Freshwater, Tahitian… the list goes on. Distinguishing between these pearl types can get confusing - especially if you’re choosing between Akoya and Freshwater. Each pearl has its own distinguishable factors that may be suited towards different tastes.

In the end, it truly comes down to what you’re looking for in the long-run. Are you looking for a high-end luxurious pearl suited for extravagant events? Or maybe you’d benefit from something more casual. To help you out along this decision journey, Kyllonen Luxury provides you with our guide to Akoya pearls vs. Freshwater pearls.

Akoya Pearls vs. Freshwater Pearls - A Few Significant Notes

Before we get started there are a few general things you should know about Akoya and Freshwater pearls. Here are a few general points to keep in mind when deciding between the two pearl types

Freshwater Pearls vs Akoya Pearls

Top Photo is a Gem Quality Freshwater Pearl Strand. The Bottom Pearls are Near Gem Quality Akoya Pearls.

Akoya Pearls

  • High-end, luxurious pearls
  • Great for special occasions
  • Higher price
  • Excellent luster
  • Will last a lifetime
  • Perfectly round

Freshwater pearls

  • Good for everyday wear
  • Affordable option
  • Give off a unique glow
  • Can stand up well to various environments
  • Good Pearl to start with

Pearl Formation

To truly understand the difference between Akoya and Freshwater pearls, it’s important to know how each pearl is formed. Once you know the difference between each pearl’s origins, you’ll truly understand why each pearl has the features it has.

Akoya Pearl Formation

The Akoya pearl is “bead-nucleated” meaning a perfectly round nucleus is artificially placed within the oyster to promote the formation of the pearl. This nucleus is made up of high-quality shell material.

This pearl is then matured for 18 months to two years. The longer time the pearl is given to mature the thicker the nacre layers will be. Generally, Akoya oysters only produce one or two pearls at a time so this leads to a higher price point.

Freshwater Pearl Formation

Freshwater pearls are formed differently and are what we call “tissue-nucleated.” This is the process of harvesting a 1.0mm sq piece of mantle tissue from a donor mussel. This tissue is then placed inside the host mussel which will promote pearl formation.

A large difference between Akoya and Freshwater pearls is that a Freshwater pearl oyster will produce nearly 25 pearls at a time which takes about 2-3 years hence bringing the price range down for Freshwater pearls.  However, some of your higher-end freshwater pearls will be made with much fewer pearls to help increase the quality rather than quantity.

Luster Comparison

Luster is a dominant factor to consider when comparing Akoya vs. Freshwater pearls. Luster, or the overall shine that a pearl carries, is a significant factor taken into account when deciding pearl value and grade. Traditionally, Akoya pearls are known to be significantly more lustrous than Freshwater pearls, but that does not mean that Freshwater pearls don’t shine. Your gem quality freshwater pearls can easily be mistake for an Akoya pearl.

Akoya Pearl Luster

Akoya pearls have excellent luster. They’re known to have an extraordinary “Mirror-Like” luster, meaning that the reflection from the pearl is so clear it resembles a mirror. These pearls have excellent facial recognition and unparalleled shine.

Akoya pearls have an excellent glossy overtone. Lastly, these pearls are some of the best pearls for light-return. This means they have an unmatched ability to reflect light.

Freshwater Pearl Luster

Freshwater pearls are lustrous in their own, unique way. Along with Akoya pearls, Freshwater pearls carry a lusterous appearance with great light return. The difference is mostly in the glossiness of these pearls. Freshwater pearls have more of a glow as opposed to a striking gloss. Overall, Freshwater pearls give off a softer reflection of light than Akoya pearls.

Flaw Comparison

Pearl flaws, or blemishes, are a factor to consider when deciding between Freshwater and Akoya pearls. Flaws are the imperfections located on a pearl’s surface. These come in various forms such as pits, dents inclusions, or scratches.

Both Akoya and Freshwater pearls flaws, if they contain them, are very small, often colorless, and can only be seen upon close inspection. Therefore, flaw should not be high on your list of priorities when deciding between the two pearl types.

Akoya Pearl Flaws

Akoya pearls usually contain small barely noticeable blemishes. You also may see slight variations in color directly under the surface. A common flaw in Akoya pearls is also small wrinkles located within the surface nacre. This is sometimes called mottling, which technically isn’t a flaw. It’s a result of thick nacre forming around the nucleus of the pearl. The appearance looks slightly wrinkled, which is why we call this “skin”. Skin can also be seen on Edison Freshwater pearls because they too are infused with a nucleus.

Freshwater Pearl Flaws

Freshwater pearl flaws vary from Akoya pearl flaws. In Freshwater pearls, you’ll often see chalky or cloudy spots located on the ridges of the surface layer. These chalky spots are often dull and are only slightly noticeable at a close distance.

That’s just about everything you need to know about Akoya pearls vs. Freshwater pearls. Overall Freshwater pearls are a more affordable option but Akoya pearls carry a beautiful luxury that is hard to pass up. Take a look at our large selection of Akoya and Freshwater pearls today!