27 June 2019

An ode to Akoya pearls with Nina Oikawa

Nina Oikawa is one of our much-loved artists in our FRESHLY SHUCKED survey of pearls in contemporary jewellery. She sources her distinct blue Akoya pearls from Japan to produce handmade jewellery that celebrate the unique shapes and colours of each pearl. Here we chat to her about her work.

NINA OIKAWA pieces of eight gallery jewellery pearl earrings fine jeweller jewels 


PO8: Tell us about the pearl jewels you have designed for FRESHLY SHUCKED?

Nina: I really enjoy using pearls in my works. They can be royal, they can be elegant, they can also pop and be fun. I just think pearls have a never-ending potential to create new designs.

For this group of work, pearls were the main character. I wanted to build a wearable nest to make the pearls stand out (for example, the ‘Hōgyoku’ earring studs pictured below). My focus was to find designs that blended the organic and my decorative style. Each work has a concept which was developed to showcase the particular pearls I was using.

nina oikawa jewellery design jewels jeweller pearl japan earrings rings


PO8: The area of Japan from where you source your pearls produces very distinct in colour. Tell us about this.

Nina:Generally white Akoya pearls are the most desired Japanese pearls because of (the famed) Mikimoto. However, there are a few other farms which produce Akoya pearls in different areas of Japan. Currently my favourite Akoya pearls are sourced from the south side (of the country) where they have beautiful blue-green and clear salt water and a warmer environment. Here, a lot of the Akoya pearls comes out silvery-blue and sometimes deep metallic blue. These blue Akoya pearls are quite distinct to this area.


nina oikawa jewellery design pearl jewel design pieces of eight gallery earrings ring


PO8: What do you personally love the most about making?

Nina: Constructing forms including stone setting and making patterns on metal surfaces using wire is my favourite process. I love that sense of satisfaction you get after successfully making something that is quite challenging.

I do experience fails – especially when I work on something complicated. Sometimes I fail after an entire three days of work! I really get upset and shocked but always discover the way to make it work and after all of these emotions, I ultimately feel very satisfied to complete the piece.


nina oikawa jewellery jeweller jewels pearls ring pearl earring pieces of eight

Browse Nina's work here, and read more about FRESHLY SHUCKED via our Journal.