The Impressive History Of The Mother Of All Pearls - The Akoya Pearl
The exceptionally “long and winding road” that is the recorded history of Akoya Pearls dates all the way to the year 2,000 BC. Ancient fishermen and mollusk hunters, searching the sea for food, were actually the very first treasure hunters to accidentally discover the lustrous and luminescent beauty of these “all natural,” organic gems.
Soon the Akoyas were aggressively sought out for their boundless beauty and spectacular, shimmering shine. Believed to be a powerful and healing gift from GOD, the Akoya brought excitement, joy and a sense of sophisticated, “other-worldly” refinement to everything from fashion to art. In the west, Ancient Greece’s Alexander the Great frequently wore highly ornate pearl jewelry, custom crafted for a monarch prominently proud of his “pearly plunder” from conquests stretching from sea to shining sea. In the east, the earliest written character for the word pearl in Chinese dates as far back as the year 1,000 BC.
A cultured saltwater pearl produced from the “Pinctada Fucata Martensii” oyster, the Akoya, though originally harvested primarily in China, came to be known as the “Japanese Akoya,” because Japan eventually perfected the farming of the pearl and because the name of the host oyster sounds Japanese. Besides China, this precious, prized pearl is farmed in the pristine waters of Korea, Hong Kong, Sri Lanka and Australia. “Akoya Oysters” are naturally “filter feeders.” This means that they continuously open and close their shells in order to cause water to flow in and out, providing a vast smorgasbord of microscopic particles, organisms and nutrients to feed on. This not only effectively makes for a superior quality pearl, but also a nutrient rich, protein packed and delightfully delectable and delicious meat.
The combination of both gourmet meals and precious pearls coming from the same mollusk created a popular, high demand “fine dining / fine jewelry” combo that quite nearly led to the mass extinction of the Akoya oyster. If this precious and endangered commodity was to be protected, a controlled process for farming Akoyas desperately needed to be designed.
In the late 1800's, Australia’s William Saville-Kent devised the very first humanly engineered and mass production process for Akoya Pearls. Later, two insightful and innovative
Japanese gentlemen, Tokichi Nishikawa and Tatsuhei Mise came up with major improvements to the both the farming and production processes.
Then an astute investor, also hailing from Japan’s “Land Of The Rising Sun,” Mr. Kokichi Mikimoto, raised the money to fully “buy out” both gentlemen and secure their “patents” for the Akoya pearl production processes. Mikimoto proceeded to implement a vast array of intuitively innovative, technological advancements that sealed the
Akoya’s preeminent position as the premier pearl while solidifying his own reputation and world wide renown as “Mr. Akoya” himself, the undeniable "King of Pearls.”
Mikimoto’s passion, insights, organizational skills, business acumen and general marketing skills further positioned the Akoya as the premier pearl of all pearls by way of a powerfully effective and compelling public relations campaign. The over-all effect of these powerful promotional pursuits drove the “Akoya Pearl” to the peerless pinnacle of the pearl industry and the company that still bears his name successfully remains at the “forefront” of the fine pearl industry.
Over time, the Japanese pearl farms began to feel the sting and suffer significant setbacks as the international competition in China, Korea, Australia, Hong Kong and Sri Lanka continued to improve the quality as well as the quantity of Akoyas harvested.
However, Japan has maintained their wise investment strategies, financial strength, meticulous organizational skills, and consistent dedication to achieving corporate superiority and integration allowing the Japanese to maintain much control of the over-all processing, shipping, warehousing and marketing of the “Akoya Pearl Empire.”
So while their specific role continues to change over time, their dominance of the Akoya industry does not and thus the mirror-like glistening radiance of the Akoya pearl never stops shinning brightly upon the “Land of The Rising Sun!”