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When did Akoya pearls (Japanese pearls) become popular?


Unlike larger South Sea pearls, Akoya pearls from Japan are partly defined by their small roundness and beauty. The technique of round pearl culturing began to develop in Japan in 1907 and, consequently, Akoya pearls were introduced and spread around the world.


One of the key people who contributed to this development is Kokichi Mikimoto who played an early role in establishing round pearl culturing. Mikimoto was then instrumental in spreading interest in cultured pearls through his shops, not only in Japan, but also in other locations around the world.

Mikimoto not only contributed to the development of round pearl culturing. He also had a significant impact on how people see cultured pearls. Mokimoto won a law suit in a Paris trial in 1924 against European traders who insisted that cultured pears were not genuine. As a result of winning the law suit, the world came to recognize cultured pearls as scientifically genuine.

In the Showa era (1926-1989), the pearl culturing industry developed significantly although it’s growth was disrupted by the second world war. However, once the industry restarted after the war, it recovered quickly thanks to the US market which was rapidly growing and becoming more affluent. In 1966, Japanese production of pearls reached 150 tons. Because of this excess, the price in the market rapidly dropped and the value of pearls went into decline. The sluggish business continued in this fashion for 10 years but the rapid growth in both Japan and the United States’ economies made the business prosperous again.


Picture: Akoya pearls

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