Getting To Know The Pearl King Kokichi Mikimoto | Jewels of the Kimberley


Getting To Know The Pearl King Kokichi Mikimoto

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A pearl forms when a foreign object, such as a piece of grit, shell, bone, or even a microorganism, finds its way into a pearl-producing mollusc. Threatened by the uninvited guest, the mollusk secretes a defensive layer, known as nacre, around the intruder. Layers of nacre harden and build up around the object over time, producing one of the most unique gemstones in the world: the pearl.

Pearls formed naturally are extremely rare. In fact, approximately 1 in 1000 oysters in the wild will ever produce one. Given its rarity, pearls had become one of the most coveted treasures throughout history. Everyone believed that it would be impossible for the world to see more of its delicate beauty and adorn more women with precious pearl necklaces or pearl drop earrings—everyone except Kokichi Mikimoto.

The Pearl King’s Humble Beginnings

When you study the history of pearls, the name Kokichi Mikimoto is one you’ll surely come across.

The son of a noodle shop owner, Mikimoto is widely regarded as the man who perfected the art of culturing pearls. His love affair with pearls began at an early age, as he witnessed pearl hunters of Ise on the island of Honshu, Japan unload their prized treasures at the shore.

Little did he expect that in 1893, despite innumerable hardships and setbacks, he will become the first man in the world to successfully cultivate a semi-spherical Akoya pearl and would soon establish the modern cultured pearl industry.

The Unending Quest for Perfection

In 1896, Mikimoto received a patent for his cultured pearls, and by 1899 he opened his first specialty boutique in Tokyo’s Ginza shopping district.

He did not stop experimenting though, and continued the quest for perfection. In 1916, Mikimoto adopted the Mise-Nishikawa method of pearl cultivation, which led to the creation of a fully round cultured pearl. Thereafter, his name has been carved in the history of pearls as the person who brought the astounding beauty of cultured pearls to the world.

Adorning the Necks of Women around the World

Kokichi Mikimoto was famous for his declaration, “My dream is to adorn the necks of all women around the world with pearls.” And indeed, his dream became reality. Today, pearls grown from the methods he developed are worn by many women around the world and have become one of the most popular gems, second only to diamonds. Because of Mikimoto’s passion and dedication, everyone can exude the classic elegance of the precious gem through fine pearl jewellery. Now you can find simple and sophisticated necklaces, earrings, bracelets and pearl rings online and in boutique stores.

Not all cultured pearls are created equal, though. Different types are available today, which can suit almost every personal style, taste and budget. These include Akoya, freshwater, Keshi, Black South Sea or Tahitian pearls, and Australian South Sea or Broome pearls online and in boutique stores.

For more information about these different kinds of pearls explore our Pearl Buying Guide.