These were the first cultivated pearls to appear in the market in 1920. They come from Japan and are probably the best known. The mollusc used is the Pinctada Martensi, more commonly known as the Akoya. Their breeding grounds are distributed along the southern coast of Japan are sold to cultivation farms after two to three years of life when they have reached approximately 7cms in diameter.
Implantation occurs during the hottest months from April to August to guarantee the weak molluscs the best climactic conditions and chances of survival. This procedure is handled almost exclusively by women, those same exotic and able divers, the Arna, also known as the daughters of the sea. Up until the 1970's they dived considerable depths without recourse to air tanks to pick the molluscs from the bottom of the sea wearing only their traditional white aprons. In Japan this tiring and dangerous job has now been replaced by the breeding of the molluscs in scientific laboratories.
Akoya pearls generally have a diameter between 2 to 10 mm but there are exceptions when they can reach 11 mm. They have beautiful and radiant colours ranging from white to cream with various shades of pink, green and light blue. It is the naturally grey Akoya pearls that are the most rare. Depending on the desired pearl shape and quantity, one to four nuclei are inserted in the mollusc.