In 1893, Mikimoto's founder, Kokichi Mikimoto, successfully created the world's first cultured pearls.
Thanks to his accomplishment, the beauty of pearls, once mere products of chance, became available to people in all corners of the globe.
Ever since, Kokichi Mikimoto's dream of "adorning the necks of all women around the world with pearls" has lived on through Mikimoto, a company that has dedicated itself to the pursuit of beauty for over a century.
The World's First Cultured Pearl
Kokichi Mikimoto was born on January 25, 1858 in the town of Toba on Japan's Shima Peninsula. Dedicated to protecting and propagating stocks of native akoya oysters depleted by over-harvesting of natural pearls, Kokichi Mikimoto became fascinated with the possibility of producing cultured pearls. After severe financial hardships and innumerable setbacks including devastating red algae blooms, Kokichi Mikimoto became the first in the world to successfully culture a semi-spherical pearl on July 11, 1893. The site of his success was the island of Ojima near Toba, now known as Mikimoto Pearl Island.
Bringing the Beauty of MIKIMOTO Pearls to the World
Japan's first pearl specialty boutique, the Mikimoto Pearl Store was opened in Tokyo's Ginza shopping district in 1899, laying the groundwork for the modern jewelry industry in Japan. Turning his attention overseas at an early stage, Kokichi Mikimoto exhibited at the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago, and subsequently showed his pearls at numerous international fairs and expos. In 1913, the first overseas Mikimoto Pearl Store opened in London, soon to be followed by Mikimoto locations in New York, Paris, and other major cities. Synonymous with cultured pearls, the Mikimoto name also became a symbol of Japanese culture around the world.
MIKIMOTO Style : A Fusion of Quality and Design
Aiming to develop original jewelry designs and production techniques combining traditional Japanese craftsmanship and European finesse, Kokichi Mikimoto dispatched colleagues on fact-finding missions to Europe. In 1907, he established the Mikimoto Gold Work Factory, Japan's first factory dedicated to the design and manufacture of jewelry. Aiming to create one-of-a-kind items of impeccable quality, every step of the process, from procurement through design, manufacturing and sales, was systematically integrated - an approach that remains important to Mikimoto today. In recognition of this superior quality and technology, Mikimoto was named a purveyor to the Imperial Household Agency in 1924, earning the honor of official jeweler of the Imperial Family.
Building a Global Presence
In 1972, the company name was changed to K. Mikimoto & Co., Ltd. Expanding to include diamonds and other precious stones, Mikimoto became known as a comprehensive jeweler with an extensive line of quality items. In addition to the Tokyo Main Store with its prestigious Ginza address, Mikimoto stores were opened not only throughout Japan but also on Fifth Avenue in New York, Place Vendome in Paris, and New Bond Street in London, cementing the Mikimoto reputation as one of the world's leading fine jewelers.
World's first cultured pearl
Kokichi Mikimoto succeeded in creating the world's first cultured pearl
Opened MIKIMOTO Pearl Store
The first MIKIMOTO Pearl Store opened in Kyobashi-ku, Yazaemon-cho (now Ginza 4-chome, Namiki Street)
World's first spherical cultured pearl
Kokichi Mikimoto continued his research more than ten years after the invention of the semispherical pearl to finally succeed at inventing a perfectly round pearl.
A newly built MIKIMOTO Pearl Store moved to Ginza 4-chome (now Chuo Street)
Referred to as the "pearl-coloured shop", the white-stone western-style building facing Ginza Chuo Street attracted widespread attention for its originality.
Established MIKIMOTO Gold Work Factory
MIKIMOTO opened Japan's first dedicated full-scale gold and jewellery work factory in the Tsukiji district of Tokyo.
Launching of the catalogue "Pearl"
The book "Pearl" was the jewellery catalogue of the time. It was not simply for promoting products, but was also designed to give a comprehensive outline of the jewellery's history and cultural background. Published from 1908 to 1938.
Opened London Store
Looking to expand overseas, MIKIMOTO chose London to open its first overseas branch.
Official permit from the Japanese Royal warrant granted by Japanese Imperial Household Agency
A pearl trial in Paris saw papers and articles written by scholars claim that cultured pearls and natural pearls were identical.
Opened New York Store
New York Store opened in Delmonico Building on Fifth Avenue
Opened Paris Store
Established a base in Paris. The name on shop's sign was corrected soon after.
Burning of inferior pearls
Kokichi Mikimoto burned inferior pearls in front of the Kobe Chamber of Commerce demonstrating his commitment to maintaining the quality standards of Japanese pearls, both domestically and abroad.
Exhibited the "Yaguruma" at the Paris Exposition
"Yaguruma" – a multifunctional sash clip for kimono represents the high craftsmanship of MIKIMOTO. It is interchangeable to dozen of different form of settings.
Emperor Showa's royal visit to Tatoku Pearl Farm.
Established Mikimoto Pearl Jewellery Ltd. in Hong Kong
Mikimoto Pearl Jewellery Ltd. was established as a joint venture with Hong Kong's Lane Crawford department store
Donated pearl crown to "Japanese Cherry Blossom Festival"
The photo is of the crown donated to the first "Japanese Cherry Blossom Festival" Queen.
At the time, there were numerous requests from both Japan and overseas, for various designs of crowns.
MIKIMOTO featured in "PARIS VOGUE"
In 1973, the international fashion magazine "Paris VOGUE" featured the highly acclaimed "MIKIMOTO Pearls" for its September issue.
The completion of the Ginza 4-chome flagship store.
This was the eighth building since the inception of the business in Ginza.