SINCE 1893The Originator of Cultured Pearls


My dream is to adorn the necks of all women around the world with pearls. - KOKICHI MIKIMOTO, FOUNDER

Our Philosophy –Quest for Perfection

Over a century ago, Kokichi Mikimoto succeeded in creating the world's first cultured pearl. His quest for perfection and his love for these pure, lustrous gems of the sea were the guiding forces that built the house of Mikimoto.

World Leader

Today, Mikimoto is the foremost producer of the finest quality cultured pearls and a world leader in the design of exceptional jewelry. The Mikimoto name is synonymous with superior quality at every stage, from the selection of finest materials to expert workmanship to our customer service commitment. Each beautiful piece reflects supreme dedication, passion and care. For today's connoisseur of fine jewelry, Mikimoto combines timeless elegance with sophisticated, modern design. To own Mikimoto is a unique and luxurious pleasure. To wear Mikimoto is to reflect the purity of the ocean… the mystery of creation… and to know you are adorned with the finest cultured pearls in the world.

Our Founder –The Pearl King

The skill of a scientist and the soul of an artist combined to create the genius of Kokichi Mikimoto, the inventor of cultured pearls. A visionary on a quest for beauty, it was his dream to "adorn the necks of all women around the world with pearls." Since his company's founding in 1893, elegant women worldwide have been entranced by cultured pearls… mysterious gems of the sea.

Mikimoto'sBeginnings

Born on January 25, 1858, in the town of Toba on Japan's Shima peninsula, Kokichi Mikimoto was the eldest son of a noodle-shop owner, a generations-old family business. As the family grew, Mikimoto's father worked hard to feed his children, selling charcoal and vegetables in addition to noodles. When Mikimoto was only 11, his father fell ill, propelling the young boy into an early adulthood and prompting him to to seek his fortune in a changing, modernizing world.

Mikimoto –Ahead of His Time

Mikimoto was born at the end of the Edo period, a time when Japan was almost totally closed to foreign influence. With the arrival of Commodore Perry in the early 1850s, the doors of international trade began to open and an era of social change started. Highly intelligent and ahead of his time, Mikimoto was bold in his willingness to interact with other cultures and explore new opportunities beyond his family circumstances. As a young man, he developed a keen interest in his port town's most famous local product: Ise Pearls.

Because these natural pearls fetched such high prices, they were gathered without restraint, becoming scarcer with each passing year. Concerned about extinction of the pearl-producing oysters, Mikimoto embarked on his life-defining mission to grow pearls within his own, protected oyster beds.

His Journey &His Discovery

In 1878, Mikimoto helped to arrange and judge an exhibition of pearls in Japan. All around him, he saw misshapen or underdeveloped pearls being sold. As a perfectionist, he was disturbed by the pearl industry's greed and disregard for quality, and his reputation eventually reached as far as Japan's Imperial Court.

Overcoming Adversity

Mikimoto learned that Akoya oysters produced the best pearls. He explored methods of introducing a particle into the flesh of the oyster to stimulate secretions of "nacre" that build up in hundreds of thousands of layers, creating a lustrous pearl. He overcame many failed experiments and challenges of nature, from oyster-eating octopi to a disastrous "red tide" of bacteria that threatened the survival of his oyster beds.

Realizing His Dream

On July 11, 1893, after enormous efforts of research and experimentation, Mikimoto's wife, Ume, hauled a basket of oysters from the sea for inspection. Nestled within the folds of an oyster, a gleaming object caught her eye. A pearl! Her husband's dream had finally become a reality.

Mikimoto had discovered the secret to cultivating beautiful pearls of such quality that they rivaled natural pearls. In 1896, Mikimoto was granted his first patent for cultured pearls. He based his flourishing business on Ojima Island where his first pearls were grown, renaming it Pearl Island.

Challenge and Innovation

In the decades to come, Mikimoto continued to advance the science of pearl cultivation and conquer new challenges such as successful cultivation of the remarkable South Sea pearl. Again overcoming huge obstacles, including typhoons, he turned dream into reality with the cultivation of a large black pearl 10mm in diameter in the deep, warm waters of Okinawa.

– image credit:
This Long Awaited Moment by Masayoshi Ise, 1978(Mikimoto Pearl Island)

His Passion –His Vision

Mikimoto's first pearl boutique opened in Tokyo's fashionable shopping district, Ginza, in 1899. His exceptional gems created high demand and Mikimoto stores soon followed in London, Paris and other major cities. Mikimoto's passion and ceaseless dedication to pearls led to many exciting developments, and helped his nation prosper in the global arena. As an inventor, he enthusiastically exhibited his products and created many astounding displays that spread the renown of Mikimoto cultured pearls.

Introducing Pearls to the World

In 1910, a traditional Japanese fan and screen lavished with Mikimoto cultured pearls were the focal points of the Anglo-Japanese Fair in London. At the 1926 World's Fair, the Mikimoto Pagoda dazzled the public with over 12,000 pearls in a platinum setting. At the 1939 New York World's Fair, a pearl model of the Liberty Bell drew gasps from visitors.

Mikimoto's Legacy

As an ambassador of cultured pearls, Mikimoto personified Japan's reputation for quality goods and helped to build its global trade. Many honors were bestowed on him: he was appointed to the House of Peers; introduced to Thomas Edison; received in audience by Emperor Showa; and received by the Empress Dowager when she visited Tatokujima Island.

Upon his death at age 96, after building one of the greatest names in luxury jewelry, Mikimoto was awarded the Grand Cordon of the Order of the Sacred Treasure. Today, his brand and his vision live on. Mikimoto cultured pearls are in demand more than ever as among the most chic and glamorous gems a woman can own, recognized worldwide for superb quality and elegant design.

1893

1893

World's first semi-spherical cultured pearl

After years of hard work, Kokichi Mikimoto cultures a beautiful, semi-spherical pearl. A major achievement, it is the first pearl ever grown by man.

– image credit:
This Long Awaited Moment by Masayoshi Ise, 1978(Mikimoto Pearl Island)

1899

1899

Mikimoto Pearl Store opens

The first Mikimoto Pearl Store opens in Tokyo's chic Ginza shopping district, home to the latest Western fashion trends. Kokichi Mikimoto quickly demonstrates his strength in luxury jewelry retailing.

1905

1905

World's first spherical cultured pearl

Continuing his tireless research, Kokichi Mikimoto succeeds in culturing a perfectly round pearl. Shortly thereafter, he meets the Meiji Emperor at Ise Shrine and confides: "I would like to adorn the necks of all women around the world with pearls."

1907

1907

Mikimoto Gold Work Factory established

Fascinated with the contemporary designs and techniques of European jewelry, Kokichi Mikimoto establishes his own factory to create a unique Mikimoto style. Japan’s first full-scale jewelry production facility, it transforms the world of cultured pearl fashion.

1913

1913

The first overseas store opens

The first overseas Mikimoto Pearl Store opens in London in 1913. Many others soon follow.

1914

1914

Black South Sea pearl farm established

Overcoming the challenges of deep waters and warm temperatures, Mikimoto finally succeeds in culturing his first South Sea pearl at his oyster beds off Ishigaki Island in 1931. The dazzling gem is a 10 millimeter Black South Sea pearl.

1926

1926

Five-story pearl Pagoda at World's Fair

The five-tiered Pagoda, elegantly modeled after Horyuji Temple and covered in Mikimoto cultured pearls, creates a sensation at the Philadelphia World’s Fair. Now on display at the Pearl Museum, Mikimoto Pearl Island.

1927

1927

Meeting with Thomas Edison

Kokichi Mikimoto visits the inventor Thomas Edison at his home in New Jersey. An admiring Edison remarks, "There are two things which couldn't be made in my laboratory - diamonds and pearls."

1930

1930

Invited to the Imperial Palace

Recognized by the Emperor as one of the 10 greatest Japanese inventors, Kokichi Mikimoto is invited to dinner at the Imperial Palace, along with other inventors.

1932

1932

Burning inferior pearls

Demonstrating his ethical and artistic commitment to quality, Kokichi Mikimoto shovels inferior pearls into a fire in front of the Kobe Chamber of Commerce. Foreign journalists based in Kobe communicate his message to the world.

1933

1933

Model of George Washington’s residence at World's Fair

Mikimoto exhibits a model of Mount Vernon at the Chicago World's Fair. Created from 24,328 pearls, this valuable creation is donated to the Smithsonian Institution in Washington D.C. where it remains today.

1937

1937

"Wheels of Arrows" at Paris Expo

The Yaguruma, a sash clip with interchangeable settings in 12 different forms, attracts crowds at the Paris Expo. Its unique design is a breakthrough in multi-functional jewelry. Sold in Paris, it disappears from public view, then reappears at an auction in New York in 1989. It is purchased by Mikimoto Pearl Island where it remains today.

1939

1939

Replica of Liberty Bell at World's Fair

Mikimoto recreates the Philadelphia Liberty Bell for the 1939 New York World’s Fair. Studded with 12,250 pearls and 366 diamonds, it is nicknamed “the Million Dollar Bell”. Now on display at the Mikimoto Pearl Museum.

1954

1954

Marilyn Monroe receives Mikimoto Strand Necklace from Joe DiMaggio

While on her honeymoon with Joe DiMaggio in 1954, Marilyn Monroe was given a gift of Mikimoto Pearls. Shown here in its original oval box, it is one of the few pieces of "real" jewelry she owned and treasured.

1957

1957

Pearl Crown donated to Cherry Blossom Festival

The National Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington, D.C. is an annual event celebrating Japanese-American friendship that dates back to 1912. Mikimoto creates the festival crown in 1956 and donates it to the festival committee for the annual crowning of the Cherry Blossom Queen.

1969

1969

Mikimoto wins DeBeers Diamonds International Awards

The Diamond International Awards are the most prestigious awards for jewelry design in the industry. The brooch "Prelude to Space", wins the award, a first for Mikimoto.

1975

1975

New York Store opens on Fifth Avenue

Although a Mikimoto Pearl Salon had opened in New York’s Takashimaya department store in 1959, this is the first freestanding store in Manhattan, located on fashionable Fifth Avenue. In 1995 the store moves to its current Fifth Avenue address.

1986

1986

Paris store opens

Mikimoto opens its doors in Paris on Place Vendôme, world renown as a destination for exquisite luxury.

1995

1995

London store opens

Mikimoto takes its place on London's New Bond Street. Adjacent to Buckingham Palace, this elegant thoroughfare is home to many of the world's top jewelers.

1997

1997

Costa Mesa store opens

The Costa Mesa Mikimoto opens in South Coast Plaza, Orange County, California.

2000

2000

Milano Collection

This distinctive collection of pearl jewelry, created by renowned Italian designer, Giovanna Broggian is launched by Mikimoto at the turn of the new century.

2001

2001

Princess Grace Collection

With the Princesse de Monaco rose, named for Princess Grace, as its motif, Mikimoto launches this limited edition collection to represent the ultimate in elegant, refined beauty. A portion of sales are donated to the Princess Grace Foundation - USA to advance the careers of young performing artists.

2002

2002

Pearls in Motion™ Collection

The Pearls in Motion™ Collection debuts; a versatile, playful and functional design of Mikimoto cultured pearls that glide to fit every mood. The patented mechanism allows each pearl to be individually repositioned along an 18k gold chain as the wearer desires, creating infinite looks from the same piece of jewelry.

2002

2002

Crowns for Miss Universe, Miss USA and Miss Teen USA

The intricate design of the Mikimoto Crowns, made with White South Sea and Akoya cultured pearls and diamonds, depicts the ancient symbol of the phoenix rising to signify status, power and the vision of great beauty.

2003

2003

Mikimoto’s Beverly Hills location is enlarged and redesigned

First opened in 2001, the store is in the iconic Beverly Wilshire Hotel on the corner of Rodeo Drive and Wilshire Boulevard in Beverly Hills, California.

2005

2005

Mikimoto opens Mikimoto Ginza 2 Store

The new store, designed by the famed architect Toyoo Ito, has quickly become a Ginza landmark. Inspired by the alluring mystery of a jewelry box and imagining bubbles around pearls and floating petals, Ito translated his vision into a work of art that all who visit Ginza must experience.

2006

2006

Pasadena Tournament of Roses

Mikimoto proudly joins the history and tradition of the Pasadena Tournament of Roses® by designing the Rose Queen® Crown and Royal Court Tiaras.

2007

2007

Yohji Yamamoto "Stormy Weather" Collection

Mikimoto and fashion designer Yohji Yamamoto, an artist of the couture fashion form, align their talents to create an exceptional, limited edition line of fine jewelry.

2008

2008

150th Anniversary Book

Assouline Publishing’s memoir, "Mikimoto", tells the story of one man's quest to uncover the secret of an iconic gem of nature. The publication coincides with the 150th anniversary of Kokichi Mikimoto’s birth.

2009

2009

New Boutique in Las Vegas

Ten years after establishing a Las Vegas presence, Mikimoto opens a new store at Crystals™ at CityCenter. The theme, “Deep Blue Sea”, pays homage to the ocean, birthplace of pearls. Its dramatic décor will inspire the design of other Mikimoto stores.

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