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Keshi Pearls
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In Japanese, Keshi means "poppy seed". It was used to describe small seed-sized pearls found as by-products of the pearl culturing process. If debris enters an oyster while it's open during the harvesting process, the oyster covers the debris with nacre, thus creating keshi pearls. But,over time the term became much more broadly used internationally.
Lin, who has growing up in the pearl industry for many years, was told that the term”Keshi” was initially used to refer to natural seed pearls found when harvesting wild Akoya oysters. Since the tiny natural pearls resemble d poppy seeds,they called them Keshi.

After the Japanese started culturing Akoya pearls, the term”keshi”was also used for the by-products of Akoya cultivation that did not contain a bed nucleus. These form from nacre secretion around microorganism or shell particles that enter the pearl during pearl nucleation. The nacre may also be secreted around detached fragments of the mantle inserted with the pearl nuclei (mantle is a membranous tissue that secrets nacre and lines the inner shell surface of mollusks. It is inserted with the pearl bead nucleus to help stimulate nacre formation).Mantle tissue keshi have also been called “saibo(tissue)keshi,”but moat traders just call them keshi.Akoya keshi pearls can range from small”seed-sized”to skinny pearls as long as 14mm.

The term became more confusing when freshwater pearls and South Sea pearls from the silver-and black –lipped oysters entered the market .To add another element of confusion to the term “keshi”,Chinese reborn freshwater pearls (Zai Sheng Zhu in Mandarin) came into the picture.

Japanese Akoya keshi are becoming more and more difficult to find because of recent decreases in Japanese Akoya pearl production ,but some other types of keshi are becoming more available due to the increase in overall production of freshawater pearls and blacks, white and yellow South Sea pearls .Akoya keshi ae sent for processing to countries with low labor costs because the majority of Akoya keshi are very small or thin and thus have smaller –than –usual holes that must be drilled by hand without using any power tools.

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