KOKICHI MIKIMOTO1, Motosukiya-cho, 4-Chrome, Kyobashi-ku, Tokyo
K. Mikimoto - Tokyo - 1906
Kokichi Mikimoto was born on the 25th January 1858 at Toba on the Shima peninsula. He developed a keen interest in the pearl industry, especially the local Ise pearls, and was the first to attempt to grow pearls within his own purpose made oyster beds. Using the Akoya oyster, known for producing the finest pearls, he experimented with introduction of a particle into the flesh of the oyster and in 1893 he had his first success with the discovery of the world's first semi-spherical cultured pearl, and was granted a patent for his methods in 1896, and in 1905 he achieved his dream with the world's first spherical cultured pearl.
In 1899 he opened his first shop in Tokyo's Ginza district, and this was followed by outlets in London in 1913, and later, Paris and other cities around the world. Mikimoto also showcased his pearl jewellery at the world's major exhibitions. In 1907 he established his jewellery factory, it was Japanâ€™s first full-scale jewellery production facility.
Although company's image was high in the United States, no doubt helped by the publicity given when Joe DiMaggio gave Marilyn Monroe a 16 inch strand of Mikomoto's Akoya cultured pearls during their honeymoon in Japan in 1954, said to be her most cherished item of jewellery, it was not until 1959 that Mikimoto opened in New York's Takashimaya department store, and it was not until 1975 that they opened their stand alone store on Fifth Avenue.
Kokichi Mikimoto died on the 21st September 1954, aged 96 years.