Tag: Akoya


Pearly Whirly Pearl Fact – Who Really Was the First to Cultivate Pearls?

Although Kokichi Mikimoto is credited with discovering how to culture pearls, two other Japanese men, Tokichi Nishikawa and Tatsuhei Mise, also had a hand in the science of pearl cultivation. Eventually  Mikimoto bought out the rights of the other two pearl culturers and started a huge business of pearl culturing. His business eventually became the premier brand of cultured Akoya pearls.

Once Upon a Pearl

Deep in our oceans lives one of Mother Nature’s most sensitive creatures, the oyster. With ultra-sensitive flesh, the tiniest speckle of shell will set the oyster into its automatic defense– coating the foreign object with a concoction of crystallized calcium carbonate and conchiolin , also know as nacre.

All art is autobiographical. The pearl is the oyster’s autobiography.

The exact shape and size of aragonite platelets (crystallized calcium carbonate contains millions of aragonite platelets– these are elastic biopolymers such as lustrin and chitin, and silk-like proteins) are ultimately what influences a pearl’s most important qualities: LUSTER and ORIENT. The platelet’s own thinness and transparency is comparable to a wavelength of white light, which makes the transmission and refraction of light rays possible throughout the crystalline layers. Upon coming into contact with the surface of the pearl, a significant percentage of white light is able to penetrate the top layer and work its way through the nacre strata. Each platelet that the light comes into contact with acts as a tiny prism, breaking up the beam and refracting back a subtle rainbow of color that is visible on the surface of the pearl (pearl-guide.com).

Nacre is the beauty of a pearl.

    Kokichi Mikimoto was a skilled scientist with the soul of an artist. This combination produced the man who made the cultured pearl world what it is today. Mikimoto was a visionary on a quest, a quest to “adorn the necks of women all around the world with pearls.” In 1878, Mikimoto helped to arrange and judge an exhibition of pearls in Japan. All around him, he saw misshapen or underdeveloped pearls being sold. As a perfectionist, he was disturbed by the pearl industry’s greed and disregard for quality, and his reputation eventually reached as far as Japan’s Imperial Court. Mikimoto learned that Akoya oysters produced the best pearls. He explored methods of introducing a particle into the flesh of the oyster to stimulate secretions of nacre that build up in hundreds of thousands of layers, creating a lustrous pearl. He overcame many failed experiments and challenges of nature, from oyster-eating octopi to a disastrous “red tide” of bacteria that threatened the survival of his oyster beds.Since the opening of Mikimoto’s first store in Tokyo’s fashionable shopping district, Ginza, in 1899 women have been entranced by these mysterious gems of the sea.  It was in 1905 that Mikimoto succeeded in culturing a perfectly round pearl. His exceptional gems and high demand lead to stores opening in London, Paris and other major cities. Mikimoto’s dream  continues to carry on generation after generation, as do his pearls (mikimotoamerica.com).

“Anyone who can’t  put forth a bad plan , would hardly be able to  put forth a good one.”

-Kokichi Mikimoto