The Chinese started culturing Akoya pearls about 15 years ago. During this time period, there were many failures. However the Chinese have now reach a stage with technology where their Akoya pearls are in fact equal in quality to the Japanese Akoya pearl production.
As a result of selling pressure by the Chinese, the Japanese have recently countered over the last 5 years by concentrating on culturing only larger Akoya pearls. That is Akoya pearls over 7.5mm in diameter. In fact now almost all of the smaller Akoya pearls less than 8.0mm originate from Chinese waters. They are now being purchased by the Japanese processors and imported into Japan where they are prepared and strung into temporary hanks. The pearls are then tagged “Made in Japan”.
This is not perceived to be deceiving as this is a manufacturing value-add initiative which is acceptable throughout the world. The only difference is that the pearls themselves are not cultivated in Japanese waters. When you see a “made in Japan” tag on a strand of Akoya pearl necklaces and the Pearls are 7.5mm or less, then it is almost a 100% chance that the pearls originate from China and not from Japan. Pearl jewelry is stunning no matter where it is worn. That’s why pearls are a must for any jewelry box.