3 Reasons Why the Cadillac of Pearls (Akoyas) Are Enjoying a Renaissance

It was the late 1940s when Akoya pearls first captured the attention of the American public—soldiers returning home from the War in the Pacific brought back Akoya strands for girlfriends and wives. These striking, mostly white pearls have a high-gloss finish and were once a staple accessory with every outfit. Akoya oysters, which grow in the waters off the coasts of Japan and China, produce the slickest-looking nacre, or outer coating, on pearls in the world thanks to the cold saltwater in which they reside. Akoyas have long been dubbed the Cadillac of pearls by insiders, and are now enjoying quite a renaissance, hitting rock-star status once again for several reasons. Here’s what you need to know.

Akoya Aguaclara - Acoya 7-Strand Necklace
Layered looks are fresh like Assael’s “Sunset” 7 Row Pearl Necklace (right) and those featured in Aguaclara swimwear runway show (left)
Stella McCartney Styles - Comme des Garcons
Stella McCartney Fall RTW (left); Stella Maxwell at the Comme des Garçons Met Gala 2017 (right)

1. A new generation is falling in love with the Akoya’s incomparable luster. It’s been decades since America’s first love affair with the Akoya, and as the saying goes, everything comes back in style. This time, however, Akoya strands are being worn in multiples, mixed sizes, and paired with other varieties for looks that are anything but grandmotherly. See Assael’s Akoya strands for inspiration.

Elie Saab Fashions, Assael Gold and Akoya Pearl Rings & Earrings
Elie Saab Resort Wear 2017 (left) / Assael Gold & Pearl Rings & Earrings (right)

2. White pearls are on the runways of couture shows. Fashion designers are taking advantage of the beauty of white pearls reminiscent of Akoyas. Pearl accents on clothes have been routine for the past year (see “How to Wear Pearls with Fall 2017 Fashion”), which has helped to remind fashionistas of the beauty of this lustrous organic gem.

Akoya in Chanel Styles - Sean Gilson for Assael Bubble Rings
Chanel RTW (left) / Assael Bubbles by Sean Gilson Rings (right)

3. New sizes of Akoyas are breathing new life into design options. In the 1940s, the 6-mm strand was a routine sale. Today, bigger sizes (8 mm) have appeared on the market, as have some tinier (2 mm) options. All possess the same magnificent luster of their average-size counterparts, but the range permits more-creative efforts. Look to Assael’s new Bubbles by Sean Gilson collection for a winning example.