Who is Mikimoto?
Mikimoto Kokichi is widely known as the father of modern pearl jewelry. Born in a simple family whose business is noodle shop in Japan, Mikimoto had down to earth foundations. History will speak that he first had contact with pearls when he was still a teenager selling vegetables for his family when he met divers unloading the precious pearls out of their boat to the harbor.
In the year 1888, when there was a call from the government concerning the overharvesting of pearl producing oysters, he began venturing into possibilities of breeding and cultivating pearls. He, together with his wife Ume, was able to produce their first cultured pearl in 1893. Years later, he began unwinding half spherical pearls in expositions like one in Norway. But it took him several more years before he finally receive a copyright in producing round pearls. To eliminate chances of competitors, he bought the rights of Mise-Niskikawa’s method of pearl production to completely own the rights of pearl production.
Having much of his history, his most important contribution in the pearl industry is by perfecting the methodology of using a round nuclei cut from American freshwater shells. This particular process is currently being used in most of the cultured and synthetically prepared pearls.
What to Know When Buying Mikimoto Pearls
Mikimoto has an undying passion of “adorning the necks of all women of the world with pearls.” This very vision of Mikimoto’s helped him to produce the famous Akoya cultured pearl necklace, which concept is being admired by most of the pearl producers around the world. Having the concept of having a good luster and thick nacre, pearls of his product were called Mikimoto pearls. Below are basic classifications of Mikimoto’s Pearls.
- Choker (16 inches) which gives highlighting to the neckline
- Princess (18 inches) is the basic measurement of necklace, which will be hanged underneath the neckline
- Matinee (22 – 24 inches) a design meant to give a showy outcome, hanging above a blouse or clothing with a neat line pinnacle.
- Opera (30 – 32 inches) devise intended to give more dramatic results than the Matinee. The design is intended to double thread it around your neck. The length is also meant for more official gatherings.
Jewelers around the world have various grading scales for different gemstones and treasures. On the other hand, Mikimoto had his own scale which is as follows:
- AAA: superior, mirror-like luster and blemish free
- AA: excellent luster and only slight blemishes
- A+: very good luster and only slight blemishes
- A: good luster and only slight blemishes
NOTE: Sub-grades are A1, A+1, AA1 and AAA1, where “1″ means the surface has slight blemishes
Avoiding Mikimoto Imitations
As any wise man would do in a business which is in the verge of success, imitators comes into play. Duplicating such beautiful masterpieces with low quality materials and selling them at the same rate as the original is what imitators do well. A way to be undeceived is looking for Mikimoto trademark, a symbol of “M” found on the back of the clasp. Without these clasps, one cannot verify the authenticity of the product.
Alternatives for this high-priced Mikimoto Akoya pearl strand as their standard jewelry were also made available by other places in Japan and China. They also developed alternatives of the same high-quality following the Akoya pattern. Though there are differences from non-Mikimoto pearls, these high quality jewelries were sold for a lower cost.
For non-Mikimoto pearls, which has another set of standards, familiarizing with the Gemological?
Institute of America’s standards in valuing pearls would be advisable.
- Size: larger is better
- Shape: round
- Color: personal preference, most widespread is white or rose
- Luster: higher is better
- Surface quality: little to no blemishes
- Nacre quality: thickness is a premium
- Matching: uniformity of the pearls is desirable