Pearls have been valued as precious stones for more than 4000 years. The
oldest collections of Japanese poetry contain poems praising the beauty of the
pearl, and the pearls adorning the ancient images of Buddha in Shosoin and
Sangatsudo are very well-preserved indeed, shimmering with the same radiance
as when they were set in place.
The pearls of ancient times were natural pearls, taken from oysters in the
wild. Around 100 years ago, however, the Japanese succeeded in raising pearls,
and our techniques have since been refined to such a degree that, more often
than not, cultured pearls surpass their natural counterparts in quality.
Japan enjoys a natural advantage when it comes to raising pearls: Akoya
oysters, which "parent" Akoya pearls, are found in abundance in the
seas surrounding Japan.
The life of a pearl begins 3 to 4 years after the oyster is born. The nucleus,
which will become the core of the pearl, is inserted, and the oyster is
lowered back into the sea. However, oysters are living creatures, and things
do not always go according to plan. Sometimes oysters die; sometimes they
reject the nucleus, and expel it. If all goes smoothly, the pearl can be
removed 1 to 3 years later. The pearls then must undergo rigorous professional
inspection. Those which are deemed of sufficient quality may then be made into
accessories and presented to our customers.