Our History


World's first semi-spherical cultured pearl

After years of hard work, Kokichi Mikimoto cultures a beautiful, semi-spherical pearl. A major achievement, it is the first pearl ever grown by man.

Mikimoto Pearl Store opens

The first Mikimoto Pearl Store opens in Tokyo's chic Ginza shopping district, home to the latest Western fashion trends. Kokichi Mikimoto quickly demonstrates his strength in luxury jewellery retailing.

World's first spherical cultured pearl

Continuing his tireless research, Kokichi Mikimoto succeeds in culturing a perfectly round pearl. Shortly thereafter, he meets the Meiji Emperor at Ise Shrine and confides: "I would like to adorn the necks of all women around the world with pearls."

Mikimoto Gold Work Factory established

Fascinated with the contemporary designs and techniques of European jewellery, Kokichi Mikimoto establishes his own factory to create a unique Mikimoto style. Japan’s first full-scale jewellery production facility, it transforms the world of cultured pearl fashion.

The first overseas store opens

The first overseas Mikimoto Pearl Store opens in London in 1913. Many others soon follow.

Black South Sea pearl farm established

Overcoming the challenges of deep waters and warm temperatures, Mikimoto finally succeeds in culturing his first South Sea pearl at his oyster beds off Ishigaki Island in 1931. The dazzling gem is a 10 millimetre Black South Sea pearl.

Five-tier pearl Pagoda at World's Fair

The five-tiered Pagoda, elegantly modelled after Horyuji Temple and covered in Mikimoto cultured pearls, creates a sensation at the Philadelphia World’s Fair. Now on display at the Pearl Museum, Mikimoto Pearl Island.

Meeting with Thomas Edison

Kokichi Mikimoto visits the inventor Thomas Edison at his home in New Jersey. An admiring Edison remarks, "There are two things which couldn't be made in my laboratory - diamonds and pearls."

Invited to the Imperial Palace

Recognized by the Emperor as one of the 10 greatest Japanese inventors, Kokichi Mikimoto is invited to dinner at the Imperial Palace, along with other inventors.

Burning inferior pearls

Demonstrating his ethical and artistic commitment to quality, Kokichi Mikimoto shovels inferior pearls into a fire in front of the Kobe Chamber of Commerce. Foreign journalists based in Kobe communicate his message to the world.

Model of George Washington’s residence at World's Fair

Mikimoto exhibits a model of Mount Vernon at the Chicago World's Fair. Created from 24,328 pearls, this valuable creation is donated to the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., where it remains today.

"Wheels of Arrows" at Paris Expo

The Yaguruma, a sash clip with interchangeable settings in 12 different forms, attracts crowds at the Paris Expo. Its unique design is a breakthrough in multi-functional jewellery. Sold in Paris, it disappears from public view, then reappears at an auction in New York in 1989. It is purchased by Mikimoto Pearl Island where it remains today.

Replica of Liberty Bell at World's Fair

Mikimoto recreates the Philadelphia Liberty Bell for the 1939 New York World’s Fair. Studded with 12,250 pearls and 366 diamonds, it is nicknamed “the Million Dollar Bell”. Now on display at the Mikimoto Pearl Museum.

Marilyn Monroe receives Mikimoto Strand Necklace from Joe DiMaggio

Adorning his new bride with a gift deserving of her beauty, Joe DiMaggio gives Marilyn Monroe this 16-inch strand of Akoya cultured pearls during their honeymoon in Japan. Here shown in its original oval box, it is one of the few pieces of “real” jewellery she owned and treasured.

Pearl Crown donated to Cherry Blossom Festival

The National Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington, D.C., is an annual event celebrating Japanese-American friendship that dates back to 1912. Mikimoto creates the festival crown in 1956 and donates it to the festival committee for the annual crowning of the Cherry Blossom Queen.

Mikimoto wins DeBeers Diamonds International Awards

The Diamond International Awards are the most prestigious awards for jewellery design in the industry. The brooch "Prelude to Space", wins the award, a first for Mikimoto.

New York Store opens on Fifth Avenue

Although a Mikimoto Pearl Salon had opened in New York’s Takashimaya department store in 1959, this is the first freestanding store in Manhattan, located on fashionable Fifth Avenue. In 1995 the store moves to its current Fifth Avenue address.

Paris store opens

Mikimoto opens its doors in Paris on Place Vendôme, world renowned as a destination for exquisite luxury.

London store opens

Mikimoto takes its place on London's New Bond Street. Adjacent to Buckingham Palace, this elegant thoroughfare is home to many of the world's top jewellers.

Princess Grace Collection

With the Princesse de Monaco rose, named for Princess Grace, as its motif, Mikimoto launches this limited edition collection to represent the ultimate in elegant, refined beauty. A portion of sales are donated to the Princess Grace Foundation - USA to advance the careers of young performing artists.

Pearls in Motion™ Collection

The Pearls in Motion™ Collection debuts; a versatile, playful and functional design of Mikimoto cultured pearls that glide to fit every mood. The patented mechanism allows each pearl to be individually repositioned along an 18k gold chain as the wearer desires, creating infinite looks from the same piece of jewellery.

Crowns for Miss Universe, Miss USA and Miss Teen USA

The intricate design of the Mikimoto Crowns, made with White South Sea and Akoya cultured pearls and diamonds, depicts the ancient symbol of the phoenix rising to signify status, power and the vision of great beauty.

Mikimoto opens Ginza 2 Store

The new store, designed by the famed architect Toyoo Ito, has quickly become a Ginza landmark. Inspired by the alluring mystery of a jewellery box and imagining bubbles around pearls and floating petals, Ito translated his vision into a work of art that all who visit Ginza must experience.

Pasadena Tournament of Roses

Mikimoto proudly joins the history and tradition of the Pasadena Tournament of Roses® by designing the Rose Queen® Crown and Royal Court Tiaras.

Yohji Yamamoto “Stormy Weather” Collection

Mikimoto and fashion designer Yohji Yamamoto, an artist of the couture fashion form, align their talents to create an exceptional, limited edition line of fine jewellery.

Obidome Exhibition at JAPAN! culture + hyperculture

The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C., brings together the best of Japanese culture. Mikimoto is invited to exhibit its historic collection of rare sash clips, or obidome, a type of brooch worn on the front of the traditional kimono.

150th Anniversary Book

Assouline Publishing’s memoir, "Mikimoto", tells the story of one man's quest to uncover the secret of an iconic gem of nature. The publication coincides with the 150th anniversary of Kokichi Mikimoto’s birth.

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