A Touch of European Flair in Mikimoto Pearls

by SANDRA LOW
(The Star--online)

A brand started by a man who struggled to create the cultivated pearl now has the world as its oyster.


IF not for the curiosity and determination of a young Japanese man 120 years ago, there would not be a brand today that is respected worldwide for its beautifully-crafted pearl jewellery.

Toshiyuki Kumai says Japanese design is a little conservative, so in an effort to globalise the brand, Mikimoto collaborates with European designers.

Mikimoto the company is the result of the vision of Kokichi Mikimoto, who devoted his youth to studying his town’s marine products, in particular the famous Ise Pearls. He was raised in a port town in Mie Prefecture’s Toba City, and with each passing year, he noticed how pearl-producing oysters were becoming scarcer.

So in 1890, at the age of 32, Mikimoto sought to find out how pearls could be grown artificially. That signalled the start of a period that was to be the most difficult in the young man’s life: Months of painstaking work – which required inserting a nucleus into oysters that would artificially produce pearls – was destroyed in one fell swoop by the onset of a red tide (this is a brownish-red discoloration in seawater, caused by an increased presence of plant-based plankton that sometimes leads to the poisoning of fish and marine life). To make matters worse, his wife suddenly died and his relatives abandoned him, so he lived alone and in poverty after his failed project.

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Mikimoto $1 Million Pearl Necklace

by Kari
(Muscatine, Iowa)

Well....Mikimoto is not to be out done. They keep raising the bar as competition for selling quality pearls increases.

The company has created a $1 Million pearl necklace that took ten years to complete. It consists of 27 rare AAA quality cultured pearls which measure 5.06 x 17.24 mm in diameter.

The clasp is art deco with 11.92 carats of diamonds.

Search this site, KariPearls.com, under "People" and "Places" to see photos of over 14 Mikimoto stores worldwide, the Mikimoto museums at Toba, Japan, and to learn about the man, Mikimoto, who is most often credited with the development of pearl culturing.

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Mikimoto High End Jewelry Collection

Mikimoto, the legendary pearling pioneer and renowned jeweler, proudly introduces their high end jewelery collection. These pieces showcase Mikimoto's leading expertise in craftsmanship and design of nature?s most precious gift, the pearl.

Those who appreciate beauty in the region will definitely be captivated by these outstanding creations. The passion and careful attention that went into the creation of this collection is evident in the choice of material, the well-thought out design and the superb craftsmanship. The pearls and diamonds are used in a manner that brings out the color and the natural sensuality of the wearer?s skin and pay homage to the beauty of the woman.

The new collection is an inspired outpouring of its creator and sets it in a realm of its own which can cherished for the rest of the life. This season the brand has come up with four main lines which are Shangri-La, Frost Flowers, Orange Flowers and Vines.

Shangri-La is a stunning asymmetrical necklace which combines a delicate floral design of diamonds with an abundant display of White South Sea cultured pearls. Frost Flowers highlights the delicate Japanese craftsmanship in this eloquent choker. This unique piece integrates sparkling diamonds with Akoya cultured pearls producing a glacial design.

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Read about Kari's visits to Mikimoto stores around the world here.

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AMERICAN LE MANS SERIES ANNOUNCES PREMIER JEWELRY BRAND MIKIMOTO AS NEWEST CORPORATE PARTNER

Braselton, GA. January 27, 2009: The American Le Mans Series today announced MIKIMOTO, The Originator of Cultured Pearls since 1893 and one of the world's premier jewelry brands, as a corporate partner for the 2009 season.

MIKIMOTO, renowned worldwide for offering the highest quality cultured pearls, will showcase a collection of its renowned jewelry while activating its partnership through American Le Mans Series VIP hospitality, the Series' official charity - the Austin Hatcher Foundation - and an exclusive network of high quality jewelry retailers.

"Kokichi Mikimoto has instilled a synonymous tradition of excellence in his company and their products that mirrors that of the American Le Mans Series," remarked Scott Atherton, President and CEO of the American Le Mans Series. "MIKIMOTO pearls are the global benchmark for quality, style, service and prestige. This unique partnership with MIKIMOTO will break new ground in a category not traditionally associated with motorsports. It is encouraging that during these challenging economic times that the American Le Mans Series platform continues to attract world class brands and partners such as MIKIMOTO who are eager to associate and activate with the Series."

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Mikimoto in Las Vegas

Mikimoto is one of the latest brands to open up shop at Crystals, the new retail and entertaining district at Las Vegas' CityCenter.

Designed by renowned architects Studio Daniel Libeskind and David Rockwell, the 500,000-square-foot Crystals will play home to Mikimoto, as well as a roster of luxury brands, including jewelers Cartier, Bulgari, H. Stern, and Tiffany and Co., among others.

For its own boutique design, Mikimoto has taken on the theme of "Deep Blue Sea," which has been the inspiration for the design of existing Mikimoto stores, and will also be the concept for future locations, the brand said in a media release.

Mikimoto tapped Gensler, the Las Vegas-based executive architect of CityCenter, to serve as the architect of record for the new boutique.

Read entire Mikimoto in Las Vegas article here.

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Mikimoto to Display Marilyn Monroe Pearls

Monroe Pearls - photo: Toronto Fashion Editor

Monroe Pearls - photo: Toronto Fashion Editor

Mikimoto to Display Marilyn Monroe Pearls

The Marilyn Monroe pearl necklace will be displayed in its original oval, leather, velvet-line box as part of the Bond Street Culture & Heritage Week from June 7 to 13.

Marilyn Monroe was gifted the Akoya pearl necklace by Joe DiMaggio when they travelled to Japan on their honeymoon in 1954. Even years after their divorce, Monroe continued to wear the necklace, claiming it reminded her of “happier times.”

The pearls were one of the few pieces of fine jewellery that Monroe owned, as most of her jewellery was costume.

The actress finally gave the piece to her friend Paula Strasberg, the wife of acting coach Lee Strasberg. Upon the icon’s death in 1962, Strasberg gave the necklace to her daughter, Susan, claiming that Monroe would have wanted her to have them.

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Mikimoto Eyes China Market

Kari Chats with Mikmoto President

Kari Chats with Mikmoto President

Mikimoto has also seen strong demand from Chinese shoppers in Japan. Sales to Chinese customers at its main store in Tokyo's posh Ginza district tripled in February from a year earlier as tourists hit town during China's New Year holidays and splurged on luxury goods, Noriyuki Morita told the Reuters Global Luxury Summit.

China's jewelry market is soon expected to top $33 billion to surpass the United States as the world's biggest, according to the Japan External Trade Organisation, as China's strong economic growth creates a new class of rich.

"In about three years' time, sales from China will probably double to account for some 10 percent of our total sales. China is Asia's big consumption country," Morita said

He added the company was considering opening more stores in China but was wary about the risks of rapid expansion.

Mikimoto, which competes against global jewelry brands such as Tiffany & Co (TIF.N), has also started to see signs of recovery in Japanese consumers' appetite, especially those of wealthy customers, from around March, he said.

"We started to see some products with eight-figure prices (above 10 million yen, or $110,000), being sold," Morita said, adding that the company's overall sales will probably pick up from its next financial year starting in September thanks to an economic recovery in Japan.

He added that the Japanese government's move last year to ease visa requirements for Chinese tourists has led to a boost in the number of Chinese shoppers at its stores.

CULTURED PEARLS PIONEER

Fanning Japanese retailers' hopes for more sales from Chinese shoppers, Japan plans to further relax the tourist visa requirements for Chinese nationals starting in July.

"That would surely be an additional help for us," said Morita, a lifelong Mikimoto employee who became the jeweler's ninth president in November 2007.

Mikimoto, whose founder Koichi Mikimoto succeeded in creating the world's first cultured pearls in 1893, opened its first store in Ginza in 1899.

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Mikimoto Educates Children about Pearls

Mikimoto Educates Children about Pearls

It was a long way from the high-class jewelry showrooms of Paris, London or Tokyo's Ginza, but on Thursday at Misaki, on the windswept tip of Kanagawa Prefecture's Miura Peninsula, 20 elementary school children were treated to a rare, hands-on look at pearls and how they form.

The event was hosted by the Misaki Marine Biological Station, a 124-year old research facility affiliated with the University of Tokyo, in collaboration with leading pearl producer Mikimoto.

Kokichi Mikimoto, Inventor of "Cultured Pearl" System, Standing in Front of Pearls by his company




Kokichi Mikimoto, Inventor of "Cultured Pearl" System, Standing in Front of Pearls by his company

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In April 2009, the firm opened a satellite office of its Pearl Research Laboratory within the Misaki facility.

Professor Koji Akasaka, who heads the biological station, explained that his facility, which hosts up to 20,000 researchers and students annually, regularly holds events for the public.

"It is one of our tasks to inform people about marine life," he said.

Mikimoto spokeswoman Yukiko Toshishige added, "As a company, we want to do more to increase awareness of all aspects of pearls, including how they are made."

The event Thursday was the first time in Mikimoto's 120-year history that it has provided an opportunity for children to experience the crucial "nucleus insertion" step in the pearl production process.

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Mikimoto Pearl School

by Jennifer Heebner, Senior Editor
(JCK)

Mikimoto Pearl School

Neither the dreary Manhattan weather nor train delays could dampen my spirits last Wednesday—after all, it’s not every day you’re invited to attend Mikimoto Pearl School.

It was indeed a treat because I like pearls…a lot. I have them in strands, in multiple styles of finished jewelry, by the hank (still unstrung), in a multitude of colors and shapes, and loose and waiting to be drilled for stringing or set into pendant caps. So my enrollment into Mikimoto’s Pearl School—a fun and informative morning of pearl education—was like enjoying a hot fudge sundae without the calories: It was a heavenly experience.

Present to walk pupils through three different stations—strands, culturing, and design—were senior VP of retail Hajime Fukuju, VP of merchandise Joe Kakimoto, Maureen Gribbin Maguire from the press office, and Amy Kim-Araneo, VP of design and product development.

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