Japan is a country that has long been associated with pearls. Japanese pearls have been some of the most beautiful and sought-after in the world for years. Today, the Japanese pearl industry remains healthy. There are many different types of pearls that Japan has become well-known for.

If you’re looking to learn more about pearls, you’ll find a lot of information below. There are six well-known types of Japanese pearls that you should know about. After learning a bit about each pearl type you’ll better understand what makes them unique. You just might decide that you’ll want to own some of these pearls for yourself when all is said and done.

Akoya Pearls

Akoya pearls are a type of saltwater pearl that comes from Akoya oysters. Typically, these pearls are cultured and produced in pearl farms, but they are also found naturally. It’s much rarer to find Akoya pearls in their natural form, though. Japan is known for producing the largest and most beautiful Akoya pearls in the world.

Akoya Pearls

China also produces Akoya pearls, but the Chinese pearls are generally of lower quality. It’s more common for Chinese Akoya pearls to be less than 7 mm. The Japanese Akoya pearls are substantially larger and are more sought-after. Akoya pearls are well-loved and popular around the world.

One of the reasons why these pearls are so famous is that they look amazing. Akoya pearls naturally come in colors such as light pink, white, and yellow. Sometimes the pearls can be blue, but this is rarer since it involves a foreign substance being positioned between the nacre and the nucleus. Also, these pearls are usually very round, but they might not be perfectly round.

Keshi Pearls

Keshi Pearls. Source of Image @ EN Pearls

Keshi pearls are interesting because they generally also come from Akoya oysters. So why is there a distinction between Akoya pearls and Keshi pearls? Keshi pearls are ones that are formed by accident during the creation of Akoya pearls. Typically, this occurs during farming.

To farm pearls, farmers will implant a nucleus, and then nacre forms around it. Keshi pearls occur when nacre forms elsewhere while farmers are trying to make standard Akoya pearls. They’re small pearls that are pure nacre. These pearls aren’t as sought-after or large as Akoya pearls, but they’re still commonly used for many things such as jewelry.

Biwa Pearls

Biwa pearls are found in Biwa mussels. These mussels can be found in a Japanese lake known as Lake Biwa. Sadly, there are issues in modern times with pollution that make finding natural Biwa pearls rare. Biwa pearls are still cultivated today using traditional farming methods.

The pearls are cultivated by harvesting Biwa mussels and inserting bits of mantle tissue in specific spots. This coaxes the mussel to form the desired pearls. These pearls are unique because they come in various shapes and sizes. Many people find these pearls to be astoundingly beautiful.

Mikimoto Pearls

Mikimoto pearls are also quite famous. The Mikimoto name is often associated with the story of Kokichi Mikimoto, the father of modern cultured pearls. In the past, this company worked to figure out a process for farming pearls reliably. Today, the name “Mikimoto pearls” has become synonymous with quality. This is a company that provides the world with pearls of the highest quality. Many Mikimoto pearls are extremely expensive, but the company does offer some pearl jewelry that is priced so that average individuals can afford to buy them. This isn’t so much a specific type of pearl as it is a brand of pearl jewelry.

So this isn’t truly a type of Japanese pearl. It’s a brand name that people have come to recognize and respect. Think of Mikimoto pearls as designer pearls that you’ll want to own because of the company’s commitment to quality. The Mikimoto pearl company is also historically significant when it comes to the pearl industry.

Abalone Pearls

Abalone pearls come from a large type of sea snail known as Abalone. These snails can be found in waters outside of Japan, but this is still a type of pearl that’s closely linked with the country. Natural Abalone pearls are quite rare. Cultured pearls are substantially more common.

Abalone Pearls

Generally, blister pearls are what is formed. These are “hollow” half-spherical pearls that can come in various different colors. One of the reasons why these pearls are popular is that they’re colorful. You’ll find Abalone pearls being sold in many iridescent colors such as pink, blue, silver, green, and purple.

Kasumiga Pearls

Kasumiga pearls come from hybrid mussels. These pearls are made in pearl farms located north of Tokyo. You’ll find that Kasumiga pearls are relatively new as far as cultured pearls go. They’ve only been around since the 1990s.

The pearls are cultured using the usual methods, but they’re quite large. Each Kasumiga pearl will be between 11 and 16 mm. They’re a bit larger than other freshwater pearls because a larger nucleus is used during the farming process. These pearls are also known to be produced in limited numbers.

You’ll find Kasumiga pearls being sold in many colors. They can be found in pink, white, purple, and gold. It’s an interesting type of cultured pearl that many people love. Expensive jewelry items are often created using these pearls.

In Closing

Now you know a lot more about Japanese pearls and the Japanese pearl industry. Many types of pearls can be found in Japan and the pearl industry brings in a lot of money. There are some historical companies such as Mikimoto that have been involved in this industry for a long time. Mikimoto pearls are among the most respected and sought-after in the world.

Japan is considered to be a country that produces some of the best quality pearls. Other countries such as China also produce pearls in larger numbers, but few can match the quality of Japanese pearls. Now that you know more about the types of pearls, it’ll be easier to consider which ones you want. Some pearls might appeal to you more than others, but it’s easy to see why there’s a place in the market for all of them.

About the Author


I am a pearl and oyster enthusiast who loves to share her knowledge and experiences about fashion with the world. I am neither a certified gemologist nor a reseller of pearls.

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