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The History of Mikimoto Pearl Jewellery

Jewellery & Watch News

Mikimoto is the foremost producer of the world’s finest cultural pearls and their breathtaking designs of pearl jewellery have become synonymous with superior quality and unparalleled dedication. Their current collections of elegant pearl necklaces, earrings, bracelets and rings have entranced women across the globe and somehow, understanding the history of Mikimoto pearl jewellery will only make you fall further in love with them.

Mikimoto jewellery was founded by Kokichi Mikimoto, the eldest son of a noodle-shop owner born on January 25, 1858 in the Japanese town of Toba. This very town would be the place that sparked Mikimoto’s obsession with pearls. Ise Pearls were natural pearls found in Toba that were openly gathered and sold at a high price. However, since they were collected without restraint, it wasn’t long until Ise Pearls became incredibly scarce. Growing concerned about the extinction of pearl producing oysters, Mikimoto decided to try and grow his own in oyster beds on Ojima Island.  

After several years of experimentation, Mikimoto realised that Akoya oyster produced the best pearls and that by introducing a particle into the flesh of an oyster encouraged secretions of nacre, an organic-inorganic composite material which builds up to create a pearl’s lustrous finish. Then on July 11, 1893, Mikimoto discovered within the folds of an oyster the very first cultivated pearl that was as worthy as a natural one.

“My dream is to adorn the necks of all women around the world with pearls.” - Kokichi Mikimoto

Three years later, in 1896, Mikimoto was approved with his first patent for cultured pearls and Mikimoto as a business was born. From this date onwards, Mikimoto never stopped experimenting with cultured pearls with a dream to create a gem that was near to perfect. He attempted to cultivate many different types of pearls including black and white South Sea pearls as well as trying to create a perfectly round Akoya pearl. In the midst of experimentation, Mikimoto opened up his first pearl shop in Kyobashi-ku, Yazaemon-cho.

Then in 1905, after more than ten years of research, Mikimoto finally succeeded in inventing a perfectly round cultivated pearl. After realising his one dream, he conjured up another: to adorn the necks of all women around the world with pearls. So, in 1907 Mikimoto established the Mikimoto Gold Work Factory in the Tsukiji district of Tokyo, Japan’s first ever full-scale gold and jewellery factory. It was here that the very first Mikimoto jewellery designs were born.

Despite never losing his passion of pearls, Mikimoto started to show interest in using other gems in his designs. He sent some of his skilled craftsman to Europe to study the latest techniques in jewellery design and used this knowledge alongside traditional Japanese craftsmanship to create a breathtaking array of Mikimoto pearl jewellery. The same distinctive style that he used in his first collections are still seen in all Mikimoto jewellery today.

From 1913 to 1932, Mikimoto found himself taking over the world. He opened up his first overseas store in London, then another in New York before establishing his very first boutique in Paris, a dream come true for Mikimoto. Then in 1937, Mikimoto presented the “Yaguruma”, a multifunctional sash clip for a kimono at the Paris Exposition. This mesmerising piece was crafted from dozens of perfectly cultivated pearls, brilliant cut diamonds, emeralds and sapphires. Understandably, the sash clip was met with high commendation and Mikimoto subsequently opened a shop in Paris’ Place Vendôme, known for housing only the most globally-acclaimed jewellers.

Since then, Mikimoto has continued to rise in recognition with more boutiques opening across the world, appearing on the front cover of Vogue to more recently establishing a new Pearl Farm in Ainoshima, Fukuoka Prefecture, Japan. Mikimoto’s dream of adorning the necks of all women around the world with pearls had come true.

The current Mikimoto pearl jewellery collections continue to enchant customers of all types from the breathtaking Mikimoto Full Bloom collection to Les Petales jewellery, A World of Creativity pieces to the Mikimoto Fortune Leaves collection. At C W Sellors, we feel incredibly fortunate to be able to offer these works of art to our customers. You can find all the latest Mikimoto jewellery on our website and in our stores. Feel free to contact our team of jewellery specialists on 01335 453453 or at sales@cwsellors.com with any questions you have.

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