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A visit to Mikimoto NYC... And musings...

yssie

Super_Ideal_Rock
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Aug 14, 2009
Messages
22,101
Will make an effort to keep the text as short as possible. Brevity is not my forte so... Let's see how I do.

Had to travel to NYC for work, so I took a detour to the boutique to meet my new SA in-person (thank you @luckyhonu for the ref!!). She very generously spent a couple of hours showing me around and letting me play with the goodies ::) And of course I have pictures galore!!

- - - - - - - - - -

First up - the store itself. Gorgeous. Mikimoto is on 5th, in the building right opposite Tiffany and across the corner from VCA. They'd just moved into their new location the day before I stopped in (same building as before, just a couple doors down) so everything was brand new and they were still finding their way around things. "Where are the calipers now?" "These chairs are seriously heavy..." :bigsmile:

STORE1.jpg

STORE5.jpg

STORE3.jpg

The lighting in the store is wild. Most jewellery stores have spotlights over the displays. Mikimoto has a repeating pattern of spotlights all over the ceiling. Which made comparisons and photos really really challenging!! I was outright leaning over tables and counters trying to take photos - so if you happen to notice that the person holding the camera is striking some strange poses, well, that'd be why :bigsmile:

Even the pens are especially made. With pearls. Of course.

STORE2.jpg
 

yssie

Super_Ideal_Rock
Premium
Joined
Aug 14, 2009
Messages
22,101
Some collection pieces and high jewels.

- - - - - - - - - -

Jardin Mysterieux.

These were otherwordly. My photos don't do them justice at all. The brooch on the website: https://www.mikimotoamerica.com/us_en/jardin-mysterieux-conch-brooch-2

VARIOUS1 - Jardin Mystérieux.jpg

VARIOUS2.jpg

VARIOUS3.jpg

- - - - - - - - - -

Prestige:

Not my style, but I can see why it's coveted...

PRESTIGE1.jpg

PRESTIGE2.jpg

- - - - - - - - - -

Jeux de Rubans:

These epitomize the Japanese jewellery aesthetic, I think. Flowy, curvy, svelte, ultra-feminine. Minimalist - just enough to bring the design to life, no more. Dare I say just a lil' bit foofy? Visually weighted, but symmetry is optional. So very very me. My SA sent me off with "I think I'll see you here again soon". Yes, I think that's likely.

Jeux de Rubans 2.jpg

Jeux de Rubans 1.jpg

This piece with pink sapphires is magnificent in-person.

Jeux de Rubans 3.jpg

- - - - - - - - - -

Black South Sea drops

Mikimoto calls pearls from Pinctada Margaritifera "Black South Seas" rather than Tahitians, to account for the fact that not all of these oysters (most, but not all) are farmed in Tahitian waters. My SA explained that whilst in theory they grade Black South Sea on the same scale as akoya (A, A+, AA, AAA), most of their BSS (ugh to that initialism but okay, it works) pieces will be of A+ quality.

Here's a pair of absolutely gigantic earrings - just over 3ctw in diamonds per earring, plus an 18mm pear, drop. 18mm. Super smooth skins on both pearls, and unflappable luster, and wholly unblemished front and back, and perfectly matched in colour. That the colour happens to be a rather boring grey doesn't seem to detract from valuation... I can't imagine how long they must have waited for this mated pair. https://www.mikimotoamerica.com/us_en/black-south-sea-cultured-pearl-earrings-with-diamonds-us-2

18MM1.jpg

18MM4.jpg

The other pair of earrings in this second pic, on the left, is the sort that I saw a fair amount of.

Mikimoto seems to value luster, smooth skin, and unblemished surfaces, but I saw only a couple of examples of BSS with interesting colours or overtones.

- - - - - - - - - -

A seed pearl extravaganza

Not actually sure which collection this piece belongs to - I didn't save the name card and haven't looked it up yet. Fit for a princess.

SEEDPEARLS.jpg

- - - - - - - - - -

Conch

So... I fundamentally don't get these non-nacre "pearls". Each of these pieces costs between a fifth and half a DC metro area house. They're rare. I get that. But.

https://www.mikimotoamerica.com/us_...golden-south-sea-cultured-pearl-necklace-us-1
[URL]https://www.mikimotoamerica.com/us_en/conch-and-diamond-ring[/URL]

I did love the briolettes in the earrings (which ran somewhere around $225k if I recall correctly)...

CONCH2.jpg

CONCH4.jpg

The stripey effect is apparently called "flame", and is very desirable. It was cool. Not $250k cool even if I had a spare $250k. To each of wealth his own?
 
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dk168

Ideal_Rock
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Jul 7, 2013
Messages
8,572
Thanks @yssie for the write up and eye candy pics! :kiss2:

Some time ago, I went to a pearl exhibition, and there were lots of Miki pieces on show, including my favourite which is the multi-use Yaguruma sash brooch.

Their designs and craftmanship no doubt is worth every penny/cent, however, it is highly unlikely that I would be getting a signed piece from them.

Visiting their pearl museum in Japan is on my bucket list though.

Thanks again for sharing.

DK :kiss2:
 

lissyflo

Brilliant_Rock
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Joined
May 23, 2016
Messages
1,368
Ditch the effort to be brief on text - don’t do brevity of description on us now!

The pictures are amazing. Those cascading briolette earrings and the Jeux de Rubans :kiss2:

I don’t suppose you managed to help one of their pearl pens ‘mistakenly’ make it’s way into your handbag for the trip home..?
 

yssie

Super_Ideal_Rock
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Aug 14, 2009
Messages
22,101
And now some #NormalPeople pieces!! :lol: First up - some Gold, White, and Black South Seas.

Mikimoto has very nice WSS. Lustrous, with uniformly pink overtone, and nicely matched across all the strands I saw. I would happily go to Mikimoto for WSS pieces and have confidence that I'm walking out with top quality. I mean, I personally wouldn't, because I know that my husband would off me the moment he saw the credit card charge, but hypothetically.

Their GSS... Mediocre. Mediocre luster, decent colour but no liquid gold specimens like @Crystal_Dreams' singleton from Pearl Paradise (https://www.pricescope.com/community/threads/your-first-gss.264238/#post-4926819 - the band in those pictures is 24k brushed gold. Her pearl is truly "24k gold". Impossible to replicate - I tried!! So, okay, maybe not a fair comparison...) Either GSS are not Mikimoto's thing or the good strands don't make it out of east Asia - I honestly would believe both!!

Their BSS - all unfailingly lustrous and unblemished and smooth-skinned but strength of colour (body or overtone) clearly isn't much of a priority.

4S4.jpg

4S3.jpg

The matching on that deeper GSS strand. And the graduation. Oh my goodness, abysmal. My Pearl Paradise gold bracelet does much better. The whites were really really lovely though.

4S5.jpg

GREYT1.jpg

GREYT3.jpg

GREYT4.jpg

Here's a BSS strand from their newer Men's collection. Much darker than the pricier pieces above (B&W), and all pearls are very nicely matched.

MEN1.jpg

A random station piece. All their station pieces have metal inserts that prevent wire or chain from rubbing against the interior/edges of the drill holes. Every last one of them. Easy quickie for anyone looking at preloved pieces.

RandomStation.jpg
 
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yssie

Super_Ideal_Rock
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Messages
22,101
There were a couple of Black South Sea pieces with colourful pearls. Here's a peacock strand that I tried on - pearls were 9.5-10mm. Next to my bracelet from Andrew Moline - https://www.pricescope.com/community/threads/a-moline-multicolour-masterpiece.263412/.

We both agreed that Andrew's won. The necklace's pearls weren't particularly well matched beyond all showing pink on green - different green body tones and different strengths of pink. Cost comparison: Bracelet $30k, Mikimoto necklace (~17") $16k.

Spotlights destroy Tahitians. A universal truism.

TAHITIANCOMP3.jpg

TAHITIANCOMP7.jpg

TAHITIANCOMP8.jpg

Mikimoto's unknotted full-length strands are 16", same as any other hank, but their knots are so tight and have such minimal horizontal spread that the fully knotted necklaces end up closer to 17" rather than 18" like other vendors'. You can see how much more tightly the necklace is knotted even though drill hole size is the same!

TAHITIANCOMP9.jpg
 

lissyflo

Brilliant_Rock
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1,368

Do Miki use white gold as standard? It seems an unusual choice for the BSS strand - yellow or rose would be more harmonious, to me anyway.

ETA: ignore me, I’ve just seen yellow gold on pictures further up the thread, so it must have been a specific choice for that strand.
 

molinePDG

Shiny_Rock
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Mar 28, 2020
Messages
132
Cool photos - and nicely done with the picture taking. It's so hard to take photos in jewelry store lighting with a phone camera.

Also, I'm jealous that you got to see a new boutique in person! I've had the chance to do some visiting to Mikimoto in Las Vegas when they were still at the Crystal Shops but since moving I haven't been out there (pandemic, and all).

I will continue enjoying your photos over here!

I still wonder how, exactly, Mikimoto does their knotting. I will sit and ponder. :lol:
 

yssie

Super_Ideal_Rock
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Messages
22,101
Les Petales. I LOVE these designs. Apparently it's their most asked-after collection. I completely understand - flirty, whimsical, wearable, and unexpectedly accessible.

There are White South Sea and akoya versions. The WSS versions are larger, more complex, more detailed, and more pricey. This ring is $45k:

LESPETALS_SS2.jpg

LESPETALS_SS3.jpg

The akoya earrings and ring, on the other hand - only $8200 and $7000!! Like, legit steals compared to other luxury brands!! Mikimoto makes most of their akoya "designs" (anything other than plain studs and strands) with A+ quality akoya. You can apparently custom order pieces with higher-quality akoya, though, and you'll pay for the quality differential but no surcharge simply for customizing an existing design. Richemont are you listening!??

LESPETALS_EAR0.jpg


LESPETALS_EAR8.jpg

LESPETALS_EAR11.jpg

LESPETALS_EAR10.jpg

I almost walked out with this ring. There's a one-petal akoya version as well, but I didn't care for that one - the two petals make the piece so much more three-dimensional.

LESPETALS_AKOYARING1.jpg

LESPETALS_AKOYARING1B.jpg

LESPETALS_AKOYARING2.jpg

Last but not least from Les Petales - the rose gold Ginza pieces. The bracelet has a "pearls in motion" style clasp - the round clasp has a silicone interior, and the other end of the chain runs through it, and you can size to fit by pulling the chain as much or as little as you like. It's a unique solution to the sizing problem, but I think I prefer static length chains - I'd probably worry about the silicone degrading over time.
https://www.mikimotoamerica.com/us_en/les-petales-de-ginza-bracelet-2

LESPETALESRG1.jpg

LESPETALESRG2.jpg

Oh! Can't leave the display bust out!!

LESPETALS1.jpg
 

yssie

Super_Ideal_Rock
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Messages
22,101
Mikimoto grades akoya A, A+, AA, and AAA/Reserve - they call their top grade “AAA” when they’re talking about earrings and “Reserve” for strands. This was the only reserve strand in the case when I went - 8.75mm I believe? I didn’t even ask for a price ::) I did try it on, but apparently I forgot to take photos!

My SA said that the best akoya (AAA/Reserve) should show both silver and pink, and should have lighter bodies. Some of the A and A+ pearls that I saw were definitely noticeably darker.

RESERVE1.jpg

RESERVE2.jpg

Most akoya pearls have somewhat hammered surfaces and somewhat textured skins. “Gem” quality akoya, certified Hanadama akoya, certified Ten-nyo akoya, some Mikimoto akoya specimens below AAA/Reserve quality. Mikimoto does clearly prize smooth akoya, though.

Here are a few pieces that combine WSS and akoya. Cherry blossom designs. Normally this wouldn’t work visually close-up, because the akoya would have sharper luster and the WSS would show smoother skins and softer reflections, but Mikimoto’s akoya and WSS fit together just fine!! Their WSS hold their own next to A+ akoya luster no problem, and all their WSS have some degree of pink overtone... The akoya and WSS in the pendant, for example, do have different strengths of pink overtone - but the variance in these floral pieces is very pretty. Looks totally deliberate.

CHERRYBLOSSOM1.jpg

CHERRYBLOSSOM2.jpg
 

molinePDG

Shiny_Rock
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Messages
132
*Raises hand*

Are WSS pearls also bleached and pinked?

The answer to this, as with most pearl treatment questions, is "it depends."

Some south sea from some areas are not treated at all - polished a bit, washed, and that's that. Others are gently treated, perhaps given a bit of bleaching to remove yellow and pinking from there. Others are harshly treated but can still look wonderful, short term.

Australian-origin white south sea pearls are of the not or less treated variety, while Indonesian and other locales tend to have more treatments.

As for Mikimoto's specific pearls, I dunno.
 

yssie

Super_Ideal_Rock
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Joined
Aug 14, 2009
Messages
22,101
My presumption is that since all pearls Mikimoto sells go through Japan, they'll have gone through some form of maeshori. Maeshori literally means "pre treatment" - it varies from processing facility to processing facility and it's completely unregulated. Gotta love the pearl industry sometimes. Mikimoto representatives will assert that their pearls are wholly untreated - no bleaching, no pinking. I personally wouldn't believe that, because - if nothing else - there's no reliable single-origin sourcing or tracing to actually verify those assertions (except for the Very Important Specimens).
 

yssie

Super_Ideal_Rock
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Messages
22,101
Okay. Akoya. and akoya comparisons. Here's where those "musings" will start.

I'm not usually one for branding for the sake of branding. I'll buy a branded piece if I like a design, but I don't seek branding out by default, and I don't ever blindly presume that "branded is best".

I've bought pearls from a lot of vendors. Pearl Paradise. Pearls of Joy. Pure pearls. The Pearl Source. American Pearl. Andrew Moline. For akoya - I'm going to break with my own tradition:
Mikimoto owns the akoya market. Mikimoto has the best akoya that oysters can produce. End of story.


A lineup of 9.25mm akoya, grades in red. Most vendors sell pearls in size ranges - 8.5-9mm, say. Mikimoto just states the one size, and that number is a guaranteed minimum (and presumably those pearls will be smaller than the next saleable number). 9mm, 9.25mm, 9.5mm - 9.5mm is the largest stud size they offer. I saw a few other examples of their four grades - the grading behaves just like diamond colour grades. In the diamond world the "D" colour range is very small, and as you go down the colour scale - "D", "F", "G", "J", "O/P", etc. - the colour bands get wider. (Yes, I know "I" is an exception, ignore that). In the Mikimoto world, AAA is a very tight quality band, and as you go further down the scale the amount of variance in quality increases. Quality factors are blemishing, surface smoothness, luster, and body colour - and pinking is nice to have but a certain specific strength of overtone isn't required for a certain grade. Pairs of pearls also don't have to be 100% matched to merit a certain grade - but again, toleration of mismatch in the AAA grade is supposed to be minimal.

All Mikimoto's pearls are sorted and graded in Japan. There's another element to this grading standardization that's a bit more of a challenge to discuss... But the analogy to diamond grading remains apt. "Rare" akoya are 9mm and larger. GIA and AGSL are more particular about assigning colour grades to larger diamonds, and they'll have an additional pair of eyes validate a high colour grade for a sizable stone. My understanding is that Mikimoto graders are similarly more stringent with the AAA/Reserve quality grades in the "rare" sizes. I assume what this translates into, real world, is more quality and matching variance even within the tight AAA/Reserve grades as size decreases.

The AAA pair below is mine. It was apparently the only AAA pair in this size that Mikimoto (the global company) had in stock right now. Availability increases dramatically (by Mikimoto's standards) as you drop from AAA to AA to A+, even in the bigger sizes.

AKOYACOMP2 copy.jpg

A closeup of AAA vs. A. The AAA have smooother skins and sharper luster, but the difference isn't going to blow you away. The A quality is much nicer than your average pre-certed Hanadama or Ten-nyo strand. Here are my non-brief musings on that can of worms: https://www.pricescope.com/community/threads/akoya-pearl-terminology-and-quality.261590/.

A+ and above - you're dealing with very, very nice pearls. Some caveats though. No company is perfect and Mikimoto is no exception. The 9.25 AAs I saw, in the pic above - each pearl, individually, is lovely, but to me that's not a "matched pair". My SA felt the same. The 9.25 A+ has a ton of silver and weak pink - they were beautiful, they'd be perfect for someone who doesn't care for pinked pearls. These photos are true to what my eyes saw in-person. Mikimoto has no #Bad akoya. Just degrees of #Awesome.

AKOYACOMP2BN copy.jpg

And a couple more pics of mine. Because it's my thread and I can. I'm SUPER excited about them!!!! :love: :cool2::bigsmile: I'm still travelling so they'll be shipped out to me when I get home. CANNOT WAIT. :love: :love: :love: :appl:

The boutique calipers put them at just over 9.4mm (the next size band up is 9.5mm, so just under). I was initially wondering if I'd regret not just going for the biggest pearls available, but once my SA measured them she flat out told me not to spend another 8k to potentially gain 0.1mm. Another piece, we both agreed, would be a much better use for that excess :bigsmile:

AKOYACOMP_MINE1.jpg

AKOYACOMP1_MINE2.jpg
 
Last edited:

Daisys and Diamonds

Super_Ideal_Rock
Joined
Apr 30, 2019
Messages
10,759
Will make an effort to keep the text as short as possible. Brevity is not my forte so... Let's see how I do.

Had to travel to NYC for work, so I took a detour to the boutique to meet my new SA in-person (thank you @luckyhonu for the ref!!). She very generously spent a couple of hours showing me around and letting me play with the goodies ::) And of course I have pictures galore!!

- - - - - - - - - -

First up - the store itself. Gorgeous. Mikimoto is on 5th, in the building right opposite Tiffany and across the corner from VCA. They'd just moved into their new location the day before I stopped in (same building as before, just a couple doors down) so everything was brand new and they were still finding their way around things. "Where are the calipers now?" "These chairs are seriously heavy..." :bigsmile:

STORE1.jpg

STORE5.jpg

STORE3.jpg

The lighting in the store is wild. Most jewellery stores have spotlights over the displays. Mikimoto has a repeating pattern of spotlights all over the ceiling. Which made comparisons and photos really really challenging!! I was outright leaning over tables and counters trying to take photos - so if you happen to notice that the person holding the camera is striking some strange poses, well, that'd be why :bigsmile:

Even the pens are especially made. With pearls. Of course.

STORE2.jpg

Are those pens for sale ?
....trying to think of something i might be able to afford :lol:
Ooo, in UK, we are not allowed to try on earrings except for clip ons.

DK :))

Same here
and except for warranty related no returns either
 

Diamond Girl 21

Brilliant_Rock
Premium
Joined
Jun 26, 2017
Messages
1,078
Okay. Akoya. and akoya comparisons. Here's where those "musings" will start.

I'm not usually one for branding for the sake of branding. I'll buy a branded piece if I like a design, but I don't seek branding out by default, and I don't ever blindly presume that "branded is best".

I've bought pearls from a lot of vendors. Pearl Paradise. Pearls of Joy. Pure pearls. The Pearl Source. American Pearl. Andrew Moline. For akoya - I'm going to break with my own tradition:
Mikimoto owns the akoya market. Mikimoto has the best akoya that oysters can produce. End of story.


A lineup of 9.25mm akoya, grades in red. Most vendors sell pearls in size ranges - 8.5-9mm, say. Mikimoto just states the one size, and that number is a guaranteed minimum (and presumably those pearls will be smaller than the next saleable number). 9mm, 9.25mm, 9.5mm - 9.5mm is the largest stud size they offer. I saw a few other examples of their four grades - the grading behaves just like diamond colour grades. In the diamond world, the D colour range is very small, and as you go down the colour scale D, E, F, etc. the colour bands get wider. (Yes, I know "I" is an exception, ignore that). In the Mikimoto world, AAA is a very tight quality band, and as you go further down the scale the amount of variance in quality increases. Quality factors are blemishing, surface smoothness, luster, and body colour - and pinking is nice to have but a certain specific strength of overtone isn't required for a certain grade. Pairs of pearls also don't have to be 100% matched to merit a certain grade - but again, toleration of mismatch in the AAA grade is supposed to be minimal.

All Mikimoto's pearls are sorted and graded in Japan. There's another element to this grading standardization that's a bit more of a challenge to discuss... But the analogy to diamond grading remains apt. "Rare" akoya are 9mm and larger. GIA and AGSL are more particular about assigning colour grades to larger diamonds, and they'll have an additional pair of eyes validate a high colour grade for a sizable stone. My undrstanding is that Mikimoto graders are similarly more stringent with the AAA/Reserve quality grades in the "rare" sizes. I assume what this translates into, real world, is more variance even within the tight AAA/Reserve grades as size decreases.

The A quality is much nicer than your average pre-certed Hanadama or Ten-nyo strand. Here are my non-brief musings on that can of worms: https://www.pricescope.com/community/threads/akoya-pearl-terminology-and-quality.261590/. A+ and above - you're dealing with very, very nice pearls. There's no #Bad here!! The AAs - each pearl, individually, is very nice, but to me that's not a "matched pair". The A+ has a ton of silver and weak pink.

The AAA pair below is mine. It was apparently the only AAA pair in this size that Mikimoto (the global company) had in stock right now. Availability increases dramatically (by Mikimoto's standards) as you drop from AAA to AA to A+, even in the bigger sizes.

AKOYACOMP2 copy.jpg

A couple more pics of mine. Because it's my thread and I can. I'm SUPER excited about them!!!! :love: :cool2::bigsmile: I'm still travelling so they'll be shipped out to me when I get home. CANNOT WAIT. OMG. :love: :love: :love: :appl:

The boutique calipers put them at just over 9.4mm (the next size band up is 9.5mm, so just under). I was initially wondering if I'd regret not just going for the biggest pearls available, but once my SA measured them she flat out told me not to spend another 8k to potentially gain 0.1mm. Another piece, we both agreed, would be a much better use for that excess :bigsmile:

AKOYACOMP_MINE1.jpg

AKOYACOMP1_MINE2.jpg

A closeup of AAA vs. A. The AAA have smooother skins and sharper luster, but the difference isn't going to blow you away. These photos are true to what my eyes saw in-person. Mikimoto has no #Bad akoya. Just degrees of #Awesome.

AKOYACOMP2BN copy.jpg

These are just stunning!
 
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