The pearl formation period in the case of Akoya may be limited to eight months. Despite this, farmers usually wait one or two years before proceeding with the harvest (favoring larger and higher quality). The nacre thickness is related to the length of cultivation period, but there are other factors that affect the ability of an oyster to deposit the layers of nacre and they are: his health conditions and the company’s methods.
Most important is the water temperature since the molluscs may not survive in hot or cold environments; Akoya oysters prefer cold environments, but, if the values fall below the 13 ° metabolism clam drops dramatically. The corporate staff must constantly check the water temperature but also detect the occurrence of other unforeseen conditions.
Generally the temperature of the waters surrounding Japan remains between 10 ° C and 27 ° C allowing the oyster to produce nacre of excellent quality and with an extraordinary luster. In fact, the most prized nacre is formed when the temperature begins to fall slowly from 20 ° C to 15 ° C.
Nacre of Akoya Pearls
Quality of Nacre
Once reached colder temperatures, the formation process of the nacre (formed from a calcium carbonate basis) undergoes a significant slowdown; this gives rise to the most extensive and thinner of calcium carbonate crystals.
In a given period of time, millions of microscopic crystals overlap to form an appreciable layer of nacre. Each crystal is disposed in such a way that the light, crossing it, is reflected and refracted by the other. The end result will be a beautiful Akoya cultured pearl with a shiny surface, almost mirror, and a three-dimensional glow, delicate and profound, called luster. The quality of the nacre influence the quality of the surface. The pearls are very rare completely free of imperfections. Significant temperature changes, scarcity of nutrients, contaminants or parasitic microorganisms that penetrate the oysters are all factors that go to influence the surface of the pearl, creating small patches, hollows, cracks, bulges or empty. The surface characteristics of minor entities do not have a significantly negative effect on the value of the pearl that for the rest is of excellent quality.
The Harvest of Akoya Pearls
Processing of the Extracted Pearls
The harvesting of pearls takes place in winter. This time of year sees the waters reach colder temperatures favoring a better quality of the nacre. This factor, however, is not enough to guarantee success; many oysters, in fact, reject the nuclei in the first weeks after grafting. In all cases, the majority of the oysters can produce pearls
Of the produced beads, only a small percentage is of perfectly spherical shape, of white color, with a surface free of imperfections and a high degree of gloss.
The cultured pearls Akoya just extracted from the shell they are washed, dried and subjected to a first selection based on the size, the shape, color and luster. After harvesting and extraction, the beads are polished in a rotating cylinder (defile) with a minimal amount of water and salt (this is the only procedure which the pearls before resale to traders are subjected).
Cutting and Drilling
Akoya pearls are generally intended for the realization of necklaces. For this it is necessary that the technician in the operation, after carefully studying the symmetry of the pearl, enjoy a double hole using an appropriate drill to two bits (the pearl is pierced simultaneously from two sides in order to avoid imperfections at the exit of tip).
Akoya pearls of better quality are selected for the creation of earrings, pendants, and rings. By means of a half hole that extends partially inside the pearl. The point where the hole will be practiced should be chosen carefully in order to be seen leaving the best part of the pearl.
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