Creating pearls is a fascinating process that requires much time and dedication. The oyster bed is a natural habitat that must be painstakingly nurtured before a pearl can even be conceived. The cultivation process begins with a core. In natural pearls, this is simply a fragment of shell, fishbone or sand that floats into the shell of pearl oyster. To protect itself from this irritant, the oyster secretes thousands of layers of nacre, forming a pearl. In 1893, after years of painstaking efforts, Kokichi Mikimoto succeeded in duplicating this natural process by implanting a nucleus (core). The method he developed is still used by Mikimoto today to form beautiful, lustrous pearls.
Prized for their brilliant lustre and rich colour, Akoya Cultured Pearls are a traditional symbol of elegance and beauty. Produced by Japan's Akoya oysters, they are the most popular of all pearl types. Depending on the size of the mother oyster, they grow from 3-10mm. Colours range from white, cream and pink to light green, blue and silver.
The breathtaking colour of these naturally black pearls is produced by black-lipped oysters in the waters off Tahiti and Okinawa. Sizes begin at 8mm, in round, oval, teardrop or unique baroque.
shapes. While characterised as black, the rich, dark colours actually range from slate grey, silver and pistachio to peacock green and midnight black with overtones of green, rosé or blue.
The magnificent, satiny lustre of these fantastic white pearls is produced by the silver-lipped South Sea oyster. Their subdued opalescent appearance subtly changes under different light conditions, making them a constant marvel to behold. Harvested in sizes from 9mm upwards, their shapes range from round, oval or teardrop to free-form baroque.
These opulent pearls are produced by the golden-lipped oyster. Their warm, natural golden color is said to be rarer than gold itself. The colour palette ranges from light champagne to a very rare, deep gold. This oyster species can also produce richly luminescent white pearls, but the deeper golden colours are the most coveted of all pearls. Harvested in sizes of 9mm and upwards, in round, oval, teardrop or beautiful baroque shapes.
These natural pearls are harvested from the Queen conch, a large marine snail with a heavy, lustrous shell which lives in the Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico. The highest-quality examples of Conch pearls are characterised by a distinctive "flame structure" that gives the appearance of a fire burning on the surface.
Each pearl harvested is as individual as a fingerprint, making it essential to establish quality grading standards. As the Originator of Cultured Pearls, Mikimoto maintains the strictest standards. Here are the five factors we use to assess quality - keep them in mind when you are buying pearls:
Luster is the amount of light a pearl reflects from both its surface glow and the deep mirror-like reflection of its inner light. The better the nacre quality of the pearl, the more superior its luster. Only the highest quality pearls with the most luminous luster carry the Mikimoto name.
Subtle blemishes and tiny marks are part of a pearl's natural texture and proof of its genuine origin. These blemishes result from sea particles that drift into the oyster and brush against the pearl as it forms. Fewer surface imperfections denote a higher quality, more valuable pearl.
Of the many shapes available, perfectly round pearls are the rarest and most valuable. With Mikimoto South Sea pearls, unique shapes like button, tear drop, oval and baroque are also favoured.
Pearls vary widely in colour, based on the type of oyster that produces them. The rarer the shade, the more valuable the pearl. Colours range from cream, pink and grey to black, green and blue. White and pink rosé are among the most popular Akoya colours; peacock green and gold are among the rarest South Sea shades. While colour choice is a matter of personal preference, always look for rich colour that is evenly distributed throughout the pearl.
While size does not affect the quality of cultured pearls, it does affect the price. Large pearls are more difficult to cultivate because oysters often reject the large implanted nucleus; their rarity creates higher value. Pearls are measured in diameter increments of millimetres (mm). The classic Akoya Cultured Pearl generally ranges from 3mm to 10mm. South Sea pearls begin at 8mm and can grow as large as 18mm.
The single phrase "pearl necklace" encompasses a wide range of jewelry of many different lengths.
For formal occasions; for casual fashion; for a luncheon meeting; for an evening out...
Regardless of the occasion or the style of dress, pearl necklaces bring out the refinement and elegance of their wearer.
The Choker length, about 40 cm, is the most popular length, suitable for a wide range of occasions both formal and casual.
The Matinee length, about 60 cm, is worn widely in Europe and the United States with daytime apparel – hence the name “Matinee.”
At about 80 cm, the Opera length is often worn for formal occasions. Approximately twice as long as the Choker length, it can also be worn doubled.
At about 120 cm, a Rope is the longest necklace available – approximately three times as long as the Choker. This length offers exceptional versatility: it can be worn doubled, tripled or knotted.
You can always identify Mikimoto jewelry by our trademark: either the outline of an oyster or the Mikimoto name engraved on every jewel. This can be found on the clasp, ring shank or earring back. Our strands and cultured pearl bracelets are also fitted with a signature (M-circle) logo charm.
Look for the Mikimoto trademark — it is your assurance of the highest standard of quality and integrity.