130 Years of Lustre: The enduring legacy of Mikimoto as the world’s pioneer of cultured pearls

CONTENT: Medina Razali

A story of enduring legacy, Mikimoto is revered as the pioneer of cultured pearls developed by founder Kokichi Mikimoto. What started off as a small pearl boutique in Ginza has since evolved into the iconic Mikimoto that has achieved international success and cemented its legacy. Since its inception in 1893, the production of cultured pearls has stood the test of time as Mikimoto continues to flourish a century later.

As the brand celebrates its 130th anniversary this year, we speak with Ms Amanda Wu, Regional Director of Mikimoto, who provides us insight into the past, present and future vision of the brand.

Mikimoto

Luxe Society Asia: Let’s dive into the brand’s past — Tell us more about the history of Mikimoto, as the pioneer of cultured pearls.

In the 1890s, Kokichi Mikimoto, founder of Mikimoto had a grand dream: To adorn the necks of all women with pearls, while also finding a way to protect the species of oysters that produced Akoya pearls. At the time, the oysters were reaching a state of near extinction due to overfishing and high demand from royal families around the world. After much trials and tribulations, Kokichi Mikimoto successfully created the world’s first semi-spherical cultured pearl in 1893. Six years later, Kokicho Mikimoto then opened a pearl jewellery boutique in Ginza, which has since evolved to become the Mikimoto we know of now.

Luxe Society Asia: How has the brand evolved throughout the 130 years?

Mikimoto’s craftsmanship and sense of artistry was born in Japan, while also being influenced by the different cultures around the world. Our founder, Kokichi Mikimoto was passionate about both the science involved in the culturing of pearls and the craftsmanship of jewellery. He sent the brand’s craftsmen to Europe to learn and incorporate the different techniques and styles in their jewellery. Over the past 130 years, Mikimoto’s jewellery styles continue to change and evolve, while still retaining its heritage and defining values.

Luxe Society Asia: Can you share with us the highlights of the current collection

The current collections are a departure from the traditional pearl strand necklaces as they feature a variety of interesting ways in which Mikimoto jewellery can be worn and matched. Designed to be modern yet timeless, the jewellery can be styled in various ways, according to the individual’s personal style and preferences. For example, the M Signature necklace, which does not feature pearls, can be worn as a stack with a pearl necklace as it accentuates the beauty of the pearls.
For those who want something unique, the V Code Collection is an edgy and contemporary take on the classic pearl necklace. Meanwhile, the M Code collection is an interesting piece that is inspired by the rhythmic patterns of morse code.

Luxe Society Asia: Sustainability is a growing issue in the industry – how does Mikimoto plan on achieving sustainable practices that will last into the future?

Sustainability is a topic of utmost importance at Mikimoto as the success of culturing pearls depends very much on the environment. Due to the phenomenon of global warming, we are currently experiencing a shortage of pearls. In an effort to reduce our environmental impact, we have implemented a zero-emission pearl farming system that collects, reuses and recycles all the waste generated. For example, leftover oyster shells from pearl farming are recycled and then used to improve the soil quality. We also extract active ingredients such as collagen and pearl protein, for use in cosmetics.

Luxe Society Asia: What do you envision for the future of Mikimoto?

Moving forward, we strive to continue Kokichi Mikimoto’s wish and legacy — to adorn the necks of all those who love pearls, regardless of gender, around the world. We also aim to champion environmental sustainability in the pearl industry.