Mikimoto Celebrates 130 Years of Culturing Pearls



The anniversary marks 1893, when he first cultured a semi-spherical pearl; in 1896, when he could do it consistently, he established the Tatoku farm.

And Mikimoto is expecting a lot of figurative blue skies this year as it marks the 130th anniversary of the pearl culturing process, created by the brand’s founder, Kokichi Mikimoto. (The celebration is to include the introduction of a polyester pearl-stringing thread made entirely from plastic bottle fibers and “A Love Letter to the Sea,” a series of six short films.)

The Tatoku farm is where Mr. Mikimoto developed the culture process. His dream, as he reportedly told Emperor Meiji in 1905, was to “adorn the necks of all women around the world with pearls.” He lived here later, too, occupying a small wooden house named Shinju-kaku for several years before his death in 1954 at 96.

When I rode a boat across Ago Bay, I could see the house and its guesthouse on the top of a hill, and other wooden buildings lining the shore. They included two that the farm calls the factory, used to start the culturing process and for offices, and two more that it calls the pearl research institute, used for oyster breeding and research. (The farm is closed to the public.)

Floating on the bay’s surface nearby was a series of large platforms, grid-like structures that, underwater, held nets with thousands upon thousands of oysters, their pearls slowly developing.

The inspiration for cultivation began in the late 1800s, when the Akoya oysters in the Ago Bay region were being overharvested for their pearls. Mr. Mikimoto, who had begun his work life as a noodle vendor, feared they would become extinct. He learned the principles of natural pearl formation from a university professor and immediately began experimenting, trying to find a way to force production.

Read more about Mikimoto: here.

I have many pages about Mikimoto on my website, as I started my business with cultured pearls so many years ago and have visited at least 15 Mikimoto stores around the world.

Now I "do" only natural pearls.

Do a search for Mikimoto here on my site and you'll see lots of pages to explore about this man and his company around the world.

Source: https://www.nytimes.com/2023/05/26/fashion/jewelry-mikimoto-cultured-pearls-japan.html


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