Akoya pearls are predominately made throughout Japan and China. They have been farmed for nearly 100 years. They are known for their luster and round appearance.
An Akoya pearl comes from a salt water oyster, the Pinctada martensii.
Usually the pearl is white in appearance, but it can also have a pink, silver or cream hue to it.
Generally Akoya pearls are farmed to be small. But they can grow to be about 11mm. Out of all types of pearls produced for jewelry, Akoyas are the smallest pearl producers.
Akoya pearls are highly prized due to their near-perfect roundness.
Over the years, China has taken over the Akoya industry, therefore forcing Japan to focus more on producing larger pearls. China mainly focuses on producing smaller pearls (about less than 8mm in size).
Japan can still carry the "Product of Japan" label only if the pearls are strung and treated within Japan. However, most (about 80 percent) of the smaller pearls are actually produced in China.