I was blessed enough to receive a custom request for an Akoya necklace. Akoya pearls were originally from Japan (though there are now cultured Akoyas coming onto the market from China, South Korea, Vietnam, and Australia) and are saltwater pearls, as opposed to the more common freshwater pearl.
The strand of pearls I bought to use in this necklace were labeled as Japanese Akoyas, but the reality is that many of the pearls labeled as Japanese are imported to Japan from another country.
Regardless, the strand I finally found was gorgeous. It was slightly above my budget but to stick to my budget would have required buying inferior pearls and I was not willing to do that.
Laying the Akoya strand next to a very high quality strand of Freshwater pearls, the difference was immediatley clear. The luster of the Akoyas is superior. The whole look is a step above even the nicest freshwater pearls.
Don't be fooled by cheap strands claiming to be high quality Akoya pearls. All the lower priced Akoyas I saw while searching were poor quality...lots of scratches, scuffs, dents, and mediocre luster. A GOOD quality strand of Akoka pearls will cost a lot of money. Mikimoto Akoya pearl necklaces start at $2,000 for smaller (not-round) necklaces and can go up to $20,000 and higher. Of course, there you are partly paying for a name. The benefit is that they have access to a lot of high quality pearls. It was very hard for me to find the strand I did.