Akoya Pearls Grading System

The A-AAA grading system used for Akoya pearls was conceived by Mikimoto, with AAA denoting the highest gem quality.

Due to huge shifts in the production centers of pearls worldwide, significant controversy has reigned as to the definition of the term Akoya Pearls.  The Jewelers Circular Keystone has (JCK, October Issue, Annual Pearl Report - Page 88 - Japanese/Chinese Akoyas) announced: “Japanese Akoya Pearls", is no longer an accurate industry term, and should not be used.

The bottom line is that it is almost impossible to tell the actual origin of an Akoya pearl by looking at the pearl. Instead, pearl quality is the overriding most important consideration in buying pearls. However, to date, the Chinese have had limited success culturing large Akoya pearls over 8-8.5mm, and this has given the Japanese market a niche on which it heavily capitalizes. Therefore, size might be one practical way to tell whether an Akoya pearl more likely originates from Japan, but keep in mind that most Akoya pearls smaller than 7.5mm are now overwhelmingly Chinese.

 

Classic Akoya A-AAA system

Surface

Lustre

Nacre

AAA

No visible surface blemishes;

<5% flaw surface of individual pearl for multi-pearl jewelry;

Perfectly matching; little variation in size, color and shape for strands.

Very high and high rate of mirror-like reflection

>0.40mm

AA+

Blemish surface <5-10%;

Good matching;

Very little variation in size, color and shape for strands.

High and good rate of reflection

Visibly thick nacre up to 0.40mm or more.

AA

(Not sold at DawnRose Pearls)

Blemish surface <15-20%;

Good/very good matching

Good and fair rate of reflection

Thinner nacre

A

(Not sold at DawnRose Pearls)

Blemish surface <30%;

Appear spotted under inspection of naked eye

Fair and low rate of reflection

Thin nacre

 

Classic Akoya A-AAA system

Surface

Lustre

Nacre

AAA

No visible surface blemishes;

<5% flaw surface of individual pearl for multi-pearl jewelry;

Perfectly matching; little variation in size, color and shape for strands.

Very high and high rate of mirror-like reflection

>0.40mm

AA+

Blemish surface <5-10%;

Good matching;

Very little variation in size, color and shape for strands.

High and good rate of reflection

Visibly thick nacre up to 0.40mm or more.

AA

(Not sold at DawnRose Pearls)

Blemish surface <15-20%;

Good/very good matching

Good and fair rate of reflection

Thinner nacre

A

(Not sold at DawnRose Pearls)

Blemish surface <30%;

Appear spotted under inspection of naked eye

Fair and low rate of reflection

Thin nacre

*Unless specified, Akoya pearls are all round.

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