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

OdetteOdile

Brilliant_Rock
Joined
Aug 8, 2019
Messages
1,271
Thank you for sharing the whole experience with us. Your new earrings are gorgeous! They absolutely glow! And how lucky for you to have some time in the city and to see the new boutique. I hope your whole trip was lovely. Those pearls will go with everything. I dress very casually, but always feel comfortable wearing my pearl studs. I also want to mention that I think the Les Petales earrings look gorgeous on you too!
 

yssie

Super_Ideal_Rock
Premium
Joined
Aug 14, 2009
Messages
22,079
I said earlier that I've bought akoya pearls from a lot of vendors, and that my opinion is that Mikimoto sells the best akoya that oysters can produce. Let's get grubby with some head to head comparisons.

We'll start with some sweeping generalizations. Because what better way to parlay objectivity, right? The only vendor I've bought from whose top quality akoya can consistently compete with Mikimoto A+ and above is Andrew Moline (and Takahashi). The vast majority of pre-certified Hanadama and Ten-nyo - certainly every example that I've personally encountered - will be outdone by Mikimoto A+ and above (back to @Snowdrop13's thread that I linked earlier). That's not a slight on all those other vendors and grading agencies: Mikimoto starts their scale with really nice pearls and they've got pricetags to match.

For me, personally... This journey of pearl discovery has ended with the realization that I give Mikimoto name cachet only in the top quality. To me, Mikimoto AAA/Reserve is worth a brand premium. To me Mikimoto A, A+, and AA are not.

- - - - - - - - - -

A few months ago Andrew sourced a pair of 7-7.5mm gemmy babies for me. These pearls are 7.4mm by my calipers. They're a gift for a friend's daughter - lucky lucky girl. Her name is Matilda so I called them "Matilda studs". Andrew also sent along his own Mikimoto AAA studs in the same size. I mentioned this in another thread: These little “gem” quality akoya from Andrew actually have sharper luster than his Mikimoto AAA. Check out my nose in these reflections… And the shape of the black camera body…

7.4 = Andrew Moline, 7-7.5mm “gem” quality
7.0 AAA = Mikimoto

AKOYA_COMP_4A.jpg

AKOYA_COMP_4C.jpg

Andrew's pricing: A small discount from Mikimoto's 7mm AAA cost. The best pearls are expensive no matter who's selling them. If someone's selling pearls on the cheap and there aren't extenuating circumstances (preloved is the first that comes to mind...) - then they aren't going to be the best, no matter what anyone might say.

- - - - - - - - - -

I’ve known for a long time that all pearl quality designations are ranges - from every single vendor out there. And since there’s no universally-respected grading authority, each vendor is free to design his own scale. (What a riot. And by riot I mean categorical embarrassment to the industry). I had this persistent question - is objective pearl quality a sliding scale with respect to size? Is it impossible to find a 9mm+ akoya that’s every bit as phenomenal as a phenomenal 7mm akoya, zero compromise?

After comparing the 7.4mm Matilda babies to Mikimoto AAA, I knew that I had a small Mikimoto-equivalent AAA example in hand. A couple weeks ago I bought a pair of Mikimoto AA studs in the 8.5mm size (they measured 8.75-8.80mm by my calipers) to see what the drop from AAA to AA might look like when combined with a size increase.

7.4 = Andrew Moline, 7-7.5mm "gem" quality
8.5 AA = Mikimoto (actually 8.8mm)
9.7 = Andrew Moline, 9.5-10mm "gem" quality, also PSL certified Hanadama (Andrew kindly sent them to PSL at my request right after original purchase).
WSS = Pearl Paradise, 11-12mm (actually 11.9mm) - only here because I didn't have a good way to crop them out, ignore 'em!

Mikimoto's 8.5mm AA were nicer than my 9.7mm "gems" from Andrew, but the 7.4mm "gems" from Andrew were nicer than the Mikimoto 8.5mm AA. This tells me that by Andrew's definition, the term "gem" quality does/can slide with size.

AKOYA_COMP_3A.jpg

AKOYA_COMP_3B.jpg

I asked Andrew about potentially upgrading quality. Actually, I just asked for "Matilda studs in [an Yssie] size". He spoke with his suppliers and let me know that they'd informed him that it was extremely unlikely they'd be able to fulfill that ask.

Back to that question of whether large pearls of small-size-Mikimoto-AAA quality even exist, or if even Mikimoto's own quality scale slides with size.

- - - - - - - - - -

I took those same 9.7mm "gem"/Hanadama to Mikimoto for comparison with similarly-sized pearls. They fell right into place at Mikimoto A+ equivalent. Nicer than the 9.25mm A pearls, not as nice as the 9.25mm AA pearls. More pink and better matched than the 9.25mm A+, but less lustrous.

Price? I paid a little less than 9.5mm Mikimoto A+ retail. So once again, nomenclature aside, what I spent fairly represents the quality that I received.

AKOYACOMP2C copy.jpg

AKOYACOMP2D copy.jpg

And the answer to my question? No. Mikimoto's quality scale doesn't slide with size. Mikimoto AAA in the "rare" akoya sizes is every bit as phenomenal as AAA in the smaller sizes!!

But. Here's a big "but".

Even Mikimoto, with their heritage, buying power, and industry contacts, had only one pair of 9.25mm AAA pearls in stock. And they didn't have any 9.5mm AAA pairs in stock. And my anticipated wait time for a custom order was 3-6 months. Even Mikimoto can't just pull large AAAs out of their hats. These pearls are just rare beyond belief. A smaller vendor's inability to source the kind of quality I was looking for makes perfect sense.

That's why I recommend Andrew. His pricing is fair for quality, and he'll be forthright about what he can and can't do, and that lets you make your own educated decisions.
 
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MrsBlue

Shiny_Rock
Joined
Jan 30, 2013
Messages
357
This is amazing content @yssie . Thanks so much for taking the time to do such a thorough write up. Although I do wonder whether the pearls in the shop start to sweat as soon as they hear you come in!

Now I understand why I was never a fan of pearls. My eyes aren't great at detecting small differences in luster so everything below A+ quality looks the same to me. I returned a pair unbleached Hanadamas because, apart from the packaging and certs, they didn't look any more special than my akoyas from Wen. In the same way that ladies get DSS, I strongly suspect you've given all of us PLS--pearl luster syndrome. Or maybe just pearl lust syndrome.

My eyes thank you. My wallet has turned her back on me and refuses to speak.
 

yssie

Super_Ideal_Rock
Premium
Joined
Aug 14, 2009
Messages
22,079
There are so many "who should I buy from" and "how should I buy" threads, here on PS and on other forums. So many Mikimoto vs. X comparisons. So many analogies. My take on some of them.

- - - - - - - - - -

Mikimoto is like Tiffany. Mikimoto pearls are like Tiffany diamonds. You're paying a huge brand premium for quality you can match or outdo elsewhere.

It's a nice fantasy, but nope. Mikimoto created the practice of culturing pearls and the house commands industry-wide respect. Mikimoto has first choice of akoya from all farms and suppliers across Japan. And Mikimoto has the buying power to ensure nothing spectacular slips through their corporate fingers - from yearly harvest yield to auctions around the world.

Comparing Mikimoto to Tiffany would be more accurate if the only diamonds of worth came from Canada, Tiffany had developed the diamond mining and sorting machinery that's ubiquitous today, and if all diamond purveyors in Canada gave Tiffany first selection from all their yield.

- - - - - - - - - -

We offer Mikimoto quality! At 30% of Mikimoto's price!

That's an even nicer fantasy, but nope, again. The most successful akoya farms are in Japan, and the east Asian market knows pearls, loves pearls, and will pay premiums for superior quality. They have no incentive whatsoever to send top quality pearls to Western markets at all, let alone for sale at discounted prices.

The first question here would be “what quality of Mikimoto are you offering”? Mikimoto A quality isn’t hard to match, in any size. Mikimoto AAA quality would be impossible to match at pretty much any size without sourcing directly in Japan - and you’ll pay an almost-Mikimoto price. And for “rare” sizes, well, Mikimoto might just be the only place you can even get Mikimoto AAA quality.

You always, always, always get what you pay for. Lack of independent grading standardization has led to rampant grade inflation, and it’s hard for Western buyers to get to Mikimoto!! In the US, for example, there are only four boutiques. Boutiques always have the most and the best inventory. That means there are only four places where a buyer is guaranteed to be able to do his own comparisons.

- - - - - - - - - -

Hanadama / Ten-nyo represent the best akoya available.

Well… Maybe? Not necessarily. But possibly. I’ve written about this here on PS before so I’ll just link:
https://www.pricescope.com/community/threads/pearls-fs.252722/#post-4709427

We all know Hanadama and Ten-nyo are ranges. And global demand for pearls ensures that pre-certified Hanadama and Ten-nyo that are destined for Western markets will never be the best products available at any given time.

That doesn’t mean that the best products can’t be submitted to PSL, though. The Hanadama and Ten-nyo certifications are available for any akoya - I could submit my new Mikimoto studs if I wanted to…

My advice to someone buying pearls retail would be to pay attention to price. Since almost all akoya are coming from Japan, we’ve got some confidence that there’s equalization of price-for-quality somewhere not too far back in the supply chain. If one vendor is selling X-X.5mm studs for $$ and another vendor is selling that same size for $$$$, then either the second vendor has huge markups or the first vendor has an inferior product; if both vendors are reputable, well, you’ve got your most likely answer to that. If one vendor is selling Hanadama strands for $$ and another vendor is selling “gem” quality strands of the same size for $$$$, and both vendors are reputable, then you probably know “why”.

And add Mikimoto into your price comparisons!! The differential might just be smaller than expected! :bigsmile:

- - - - - - - - - -

Thicker nacre is better. Thicker nacre means a more durable and more lustrous pearl.

Sort of. True, but way oversimplified. This is gonna be long. More coming in the next post. @lissyflo I'm getting a firm Fail on "keeping it concise" :lol:
 
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icy_jade

Ideal_Rock
Joined
May 1, 2009
Messages
4,178
What a treat to go through the thread @yssie! What a beautiful shop! And I laughed when I read your description of the Tahitians but I totally understand what you mean. Beautiful uniform orbs but the color are ughh. But what always strikes me at Mikimoto is how beautifully matched the strands are.

Having been to a few fairs, I think outside of Mikimoto the mirror luster AAA quality can be found at the Hong Kong fair (and probably Japan ones since they are from the Japanese sellers). “Think” because I’ve never really paid a lot of attention to akoyas (I don’t have any!). One day you must go to the HK fair (when travel is ok) to shop and do a photo blog like this ok. You will have so much fun.

And congrats on another stunning add to your collection! Mod shots when you are back pls!
 

Daisys and Diamonds

Super_Ideal_Rock
Joined
Apr 30, 2019
Messages
10,729
I said earlier that I've bought akoya pearls from a lot of vendors, and that my opinion is that Mikimoto sells the best akoya that oysters can produce. Let's get grubby with some head to head comparisons.

We'll start with some sweeping generalizations. Because what better way to parlay objectivity, right? The only vendor I've bought from whose top quality akoya can consistently compete with Mikimoto A+ and above is Andrew Moline (and Takahashi). The vast majority of pre-certified Hanadama and Ten-nyo - certainly every example that I've personally encountered - will be outdone by Mikimoto A+ and above (back to @Snowdrop13's thread that I linked earlier). That's not a slight on all those other vendors and grading agencies: Mikimoto starts their scale with really nice pearls and they've got pricetags to match.

For me, personally... This journey of pearl discovery has ended with the realization that I give Mikimoto name cachet only in the top quality. To me, Mikimoto AAA/Reserve is worth a brand premium. To me Mikimoto A, A+, and AA are not.

- - - - - - - - - -

A few months ago Andrew sourced a pair of 7-7.5mm gemmy babies for me. These pearls are 7.4mm by my calipers. They're a gift for a friend's daughter - lucky lucky girl. Her name is Matilda so I called them "Matilda studs". Andrew also sent along his own Mikimoto AAA studs in the same size. I mentioned this in another thread: These little “gem” quality akoya from Andrew actually have sharper luster than his Mikimoto AAA. Check out my nose in these reflections… And the shape of the black camera body…

7.4 = Andrew Moline, 7-7.5mm “gem” quality
7.0 AAA = Mikimoto

AKOYA_COMP_4A.jpg

AKOYA_COMP_4C.jpg

Andrew's pricing: A small discount from Mikimoto's 7mm AAA cost. The best pearls are expensive no matter who's selling them. If someone's selling pearls on the cheap and there aren't extenuating circumstances (preloved is the first that comes to mind...) - then they aren't going to be the best, no matter what anyone might say.

- - - - - - - - - -

I’ve known for a long time that all pearl quality designations are ranges - from every single vendor out there. And since there’s no universally-respected grading authority, each vendor is free to design his own scale. (What a riot. And by riot I mean categorical embarrassment to the industry). I had this persistent question - is objective pearl quality a sliding scale with respect to size? Is it impossible to find a 9mm+ akoya that’s every bit as phenomenal as a phenomenal 7mm akoya, zero compromise?

After comparing the 7.4mm Matilda babies to Mikimoto AAA, I knew that I had a small Mikimoto-equivalent AAA example in hand. A couple weeks ago I bought a pair of Mikimoto AA studs in the 8.5mm size (they measured 8.75-8.80mm by my calipers) to see what the drop from AAA to AA might look like when combined with a size increase.

7.4 = Andrew Moline, 7-7.5mm "gem" quality
8.5 AA = Mikimoto (actually 8.8mm)
9.7 = Andrew Moline, 9.5-10mm "gem" quality, also PSL certified Hanadama (Andrew kindly sent them to PSL at my request right after original purchase).
WSS = Pearl Paradise, 11-12mm (actually 11.9mm) - only here because I didn't have a good way to crop them out, ignore 'em!

Mikimoto's 8.5mm AA were nicer than my 9.7mm "gems" from Andrew, but the 7.4mm "gems" from Andrew were nicer than the Mikimoto 8.5mm AA. This tells me that by Andrew's definition, the term "gem" quality does/can slide with size.

AKOYA_COMP_3A.jpg

AKOYA_COMP_3B.jpg

I asked Andrew about potentially upgrading quality. Actually, I just asked for "Matilda studs in [an Yssie] size". He spoke with his suppliers and let me know that they'd informed him that it was extremely unlikely they'd be able to fulfill that ask.

Back to that question of whether large pearls of small-size-Mikimoto-AAA quality even exist, or if even Mikimoto's own quality scale slides with size.

- - - - - - - - - -

I took those same 9.7mm "gem"/Hanadama to Mikimoto for comparison with similarly-sized pearls. They fell right into place at Mikimoto A+ equivalent. Nicer than the 9.25mm A pearls, not as nice as the 9.25mm AA pearls. More pink and better matched than the 9.25mm A+, but less lustrous.

Price? I paid a little less than 9.5mm Mikimoto A+ retail. So once again, nomenclature aside, what I spent fairly represents the quality that I received.

AKOYACOMP2C copy.jpg

AKOYACOMP2D copy.jpg

And the answer to my question? No. Mikimoto's quality scale doesn't slide with size. Mikimoto AAA in the "rare" akoya sizes is every bit as phenomenal as AAA in the smaller sizes!!

But. Here's a big "but".

Even Mikimoto, with their heritage, buying power, and industry contacts, had only one pair of 9.25mm AAA pearls in stock. And they didn't have any 9.5mm AAA pairs in stock. And my anticipated wait time for a custom order was 3-6 months. Even Mikimoto can't just pull large AAAs out of their hats. These pearls are just rare beyond belief. A smaller vendor's inability to source the kind of quality I was looking for makes perfect sense.

That's why I recommend Andrew. His pricing is fair for quality, and he'll be forthright about what he can and can't do, and that lets you make your own educated decisions.

Oh my
I can't concentrate now ive seen that mirror luster
I need a lie down
 

yssie

Super_Ideal_Rock
Premium
Joined
Aug 14, 2009
Messages
22,079
Thicker nacre is better. Thicker nacre means a more durable and more lustrous pearl.

Sort of. True, but way oversimplified. This is gonna be long. More coming in the next post. @lissyflo I'm getting a firm Fail on "keeping it concise" :lol:
Okay. Finally back. So on that last question. Reference papers at the bottom, additional sources include conversations with some of the authors of those papers, Hisano Shepherd (Little H, Pearl Paradise), Andrew Moline, and an IGI pearl grader who shall remain nameless.

- - - - - - - - - -

Nacre composition

Nacre is composed of aragonite and conchiolin - crystalline calcium carbonate (around 95% by volume), in the form of tablets, bound by a protein matrix (5%-ish by volume). Those aragonite tablets are just that - literal tablets that stack together in layers. Ignore the c-axis label - it's not relevant here.

1614660604541.png

Fundamentally, nacre is translucent: Aragonite has a refractive index of ~1.7 and conchiolin’s is ~1.55. Nacre is iridescent when the thickness of the aragonite tablets is close to the wavelength of visible light. When aragonite tablet thickness (of the nacre layers nearest the pearl surface) is 0.35–0.40μm iridescence tends to be pink, and when tablet thickness (again - of nacre layers nearest pearl surface) is 0.40-0.45μm iridescence tends toward green. Overly thick tablets won't convey light - nacre that's made up of overly thick tablets will look opaque, "chalky". One note of interest here - no minimum tablet thickness has ever been established as a guarantee for high surface quality.

The takehome here is that nacre tablet thickness, as long as it isn't too thick or too thin, influences colour of iridescence but not sharpness of luster or amount of contrast (differential between black and white in pearl surface reflections).

- - - - - - - - - -

Oyster rearing

Akoya pearls come from the Pinctada fucata oyster. "Tahitian"/"Black South Sea" pearls come from Pinctada margaritifera. Both White and Gold South Sea pearls come from Pinctada Maxima.

To "grow" a bead-nucleated pearl, a small piece of mantle tissue from a donor oyster (the "graft"), and a spherical bead made of ground up nacre (the "nucleus"), is inserted into the gonad of a recipient oyster. On insert, the epithelium of the graft multiplies and creates a protective enclosure (the "pearl sac") around the nucleus. The pearl sac then starts to deposit nacre onto the nucleus - the start of a new pearl.

Some oysters are one-and-done - hosts can grow only one pearl, and they die on first harvest. Like Sea of Cortez oysters (Pteria sterna). Other oysters can be implanted multiple times (for akoya, Tahitians, and South Seas). Surgreffe is the process of implanting a second nucleus into a host after harvest of the first pearl from that host - at this point the recipient oyster is both older and larger, able to desposit around a larger nucleus and grow a larger pearl.

The metabolism (ie. Quantity and quality of nacre secretion) of the pearl sac depends mostly on the environment that the graft recipient (host oyster) can provide. So the host oyster is primarily responsible for pearl quality - size, shape, luster, how clean the surface is, skin smoothness, nacre thickness. A younger oyster, regardless of donor age, can provide a more nutritious and protective environment, which generally yields a higher quality pearl, but a younger oyster is more likely to die from the implanation procedure than a larger and older oyster. An older, second cycle host, regardless of donor age, is more likely to survive implantation but has a slower metabolism, which means less nacre production.

The donor oyster is primarily responsible for pearl colour. This is usually discussed in the context of Tahitians, but is true for all oyster species. Using a younger donor, regardless of recipient age, is more likely to yield a lustrous pearl, and if we're talking about Pinctada margaritifera in particular - is more likely to yield a green pearl with colourful iridescence. Using an older donor, regardless of recipient age, is more likely to yield a pearl with muted body colour and muted iridescence.

I said “regardless of” donor or recipient age quite a bit there. Of course that's not actually ever the case: The donor and the recipient are inherently tied to each other for welfare. The references explain more about how the host regulates which donor phenotypes get expressed and which are suppressed.

- - - - - - - - - -

Nacre deposition

Assuming oysters are kept at static depth in the water during pearl formation, as water temperature increases the rate of nacre deposition increases. As water temperature increases the thickness of nacre tablets also increases. The end result is that overall, increasing water temperature increases the amount of nacre that's deposited within a certain amount of time.

If depth is not kept static nacre tablet shape changes. As oyster depth in water is increased, reducing temperature and increasing pressure, the nacre tablets grow lengthwise, yielding longer and longer tablets - and at a certain depth the tablets change shape entirely, from hexagons to diamonds. The shape change is interesting... It's kind of both cause and effect. The pointier a tablet becomes as it grows (expands in the direction of growth) - the less likely it is to hit other tablets that are also growing in the same direction, so the larger those tablets can all get before they tessellate. And that's exactly what studies have seen - nacre tablet length doubles (from ~10μm to ~20μm) as depth increases from ~10m to ~40m.

For static temperature and depth, total nacre thickness, nacre tablet thickness, and nacre tablet length all decrease in the second year of cultivation compared to the first year (akoya oysters are normally cultured for 10-15 months).

1614645356172.png

A "well organized" tablet matrix is one wherein nacre tablets fit tightly together in all dimensions. "Well organized" meaning - the aragonite tablets in adjacent layers of nacre are
  • Are of the same shape,
  • Are of similar length and width,
  • Are of similar thickness (which is around the wavelength of visible light),
  • Are mostly unbroken, and
  • Fit tightly together - a tight tablet fit reduces tablet "edge band" effects, which increases predictability of light interactions at tablet boundaries, which minimizes desaturation of overtone colours and avoids reduction of iridescence due to interference.
Slow deposition of nacre layers is known to create a well-organized tablet matrix. And a well-organized tablet matrix yields superior luster. This is why akoya are harvested in winter - best for the nacre layers closest to the surface of the pearl to have been deposited when the water was as cold as possible! Faster deposition yields a less organized aragonite tablet matrix made up of thicker tablets - the pearl is less lustrous, less contrasty, and less iridescent.

Compared with Pinctada fucata, Pinctada margaritifera and Pinctada maxima are cultured in water that is both higher-temperature (on average), and that has less temperature variance between summer and winter (on average). This means that Tahitian and South Sea pearls get almost-constant rate of deposition of nacre that's made up of almost-constant tablet size, almost-constant tablet thickness, almost-constant tablet shape, and almost-constant aragonite/conchiolin composition.

So here we've got our explanations for why Tahitians and South Seas usually have much thicker nacre than akoya (higher temperature water means faster nacre deposition), but usually have less luster than akoya (the nacre was secreted more quickly and is less well-organized). And we've also got our explanation for why akoya often have hammered, textured surfaces compared to Tahitians and South Seas - an akoya oyster, over 10-15 months, will go through at minimum one "fast" nacre deposition cycle and one "slow" nacre deposition cycle but likely no more - there's no time to eke out the extra nacre coats needed to smooth over any unevenness in deposition.

All of this to finally answer that question of why super thick nacre and luster don't just "not correlate" - they actually kind of inversely correlate. Past a certain point. And why any vendor that claims that thicker nacre is #JustBetter is full of it. Cough, American Pearl, cough. A certain minimum total nacre thickness is needed to safeguard the pearl for wear and time. True. Most of what I've seen and read indicates that 0.4mm from nucleus to pearl surface is more sufficient. Extra nacre depth adds extra protection for longevity, for sure, but really (like, really really) doesn't mean the pearl will look prettier.

An example...

Untitled-3.jpg

1. No paperwork on the 7.4mm studs.

2. PSL Hanadama for the 9.7mm studs:

1614661141601.png

3. GIA for the 8-8.5mm strand. Do your mental health a favour and avoid GIA for pearls like you avoided getting sneezed on in 2020. Trust me. Another story for another time.

1614661237925.png

4. PSL Hanadama for the 8-8.5mm strand - yup, got this one dual-certed. The difference between GIA and PSL nacre estimation is... Pretty dramatic. Since I haven't been able to get PSL to tell me how they evaluate nacre thickness I have no explanation - if anyone else cares to try please be my guest and please let us know :rolleyes:

1614661455897.png

5. PSL Hanadama for the 8.5-9mm strand:

1614661345793.png

6. PSL Hanadama for the 6-6.5 strand:

1614662615126.png

- - - - - - - - - -

So. Anyone make it down to this part? :bigsmile: Refs - some really good reads here. I found #2, #5, and #10 to be the most interesting.
  1. Ozaki, Yoshimoto, Watanabe, Kadowaki, Odawara. (2017) Calculation of Reflection Spectrum with Actual Layer Thickness Profile in Nacre of Akoya Pearl Oyster.
  2. Rousseau, Rollion-Bard. (2012) Influence of the Depth on the Shape and Thickness of Nacre Tablets of Pinctada margaritifera Pearl Oyster, and on Oxygen Isotopic Composition.
  3. Muhammad, Atsumi, Sunardi, Komaru. (2017) Nacre growth and thickness of Akoya pearls from Japanese and Hybrid Pinctada fucata in response to the aquaculture temperature condition in Ago Bay, Japan
  4. Le Moullac, Schuck, Chabrier, Belliard, Lyonnard, Broustal, Soyez, Saulnier, Brahmi, Ky, Beliaeff. (2018 ) Influence of temperature and pearl rotation on biomineralization in the pearl oyster, Pinctada margaritifera.
  5. Ky, Demmer, Blay, LO. (2015) Age-dependence of cultured pearl grade and colour in the black-lipped pearl oyster Pinctada margaritifera.
  6. Blay, Planes, Ky. (2018 ) Optimal age of the donor graft tissue in relation to cultured pearl phenotypes in the mollusc, Pinctada margaritifera.
  7. Bragg. (1924) The Structure of Aragonite.
  8. Ky, Pabic, Koua, Molinari, Nakasai, Devaux. (2015) Is pearl colour produced from Pinctada margaritifera predictable through shell phenotypes and rearing environments selections?
  9. Blay, Planes, Ky. (2018 ) Optimal age of the donor graft tissue in relation to cultured pearl phenotypes in the mollusc, Pinctada margaritifera.
  10. Snow, Pring, Self, Losic, Shapter. (2004) The origin of the color of pearls in iridescence from nano-composite structures of the nacre.
 
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yssie

Super_Ideal_Rock
Premium
Joined
Aug 14, 2009
Messages
22,079
Forgot this nugget. It was the first not-freezing day in months so I rolled the windows down for the drive - about two hours total in the car.

Pulled in the parking lot and put my mask on, and my nose and cheeks felt a bit raw - but I was in a rush and I forgot about it pretty quick.

Got back to the car and took the mask off and realized - I actually got *sunburnt*. On the one side. Me. Brown person. Driving. In winter.

If I needed proof of just how little sun I got in 2020... :shock:

STORE7.jpg
 
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ForteKitty

Ideal_Rock
Joined
Oct 7, 2004
Messages
5,108
I want to like this thread a million times. So educational, and I love seeing the illustrations and comparison photos. I had no idea some oysters could be implanted multiple times, and only recently learned they implant in the gonads. (yes, snickering... I'm immature) Yikes on the sunburn!
 

yssie

Super_Ideal_Rock
Premium
Joined
Aug 14, 2009
Messages
22,079
Bad typo!!
The donor oyster is primarily responsible for pearl colour. This is usually discussed in the context of Tahitians, but is true for all oyster species. Using a younger donor, regardless of recipient age, is more likely to yield a lustrous pearl, and if we're talking about Pinctada margaritifera in particular - is more likely to yield a green pearl with colourful iridescence. Using an older donor, regardless of recipient age, is more likely to yield a pearl with muted body colour and muted iridescence.
Donor age has no impact on luster. Well. Negligible. I meant to say something like "saturated-ly coloured" - no clue how I went from that to "lustrous". Sigh.


And I owe y'all's a whole lotta responses!! Coming right up ❤️
 

LilAlex

Brilliant_Rock
Premium
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Mar 3, 2018
Messages
1,036
This is great! Thank you so much!

No worries that you're casin' the joint? :cool2:
 

yssie

Super_Ideal_Rock
Premium
Joined
Aug 14, 2009
Messages
22,079
@SparklieBug It made the white pearls and the diamonds look SO amazing. But omg, it's impossible to escape!! "Don't mind me leaning all the way over your spotless counter bobbing my head around trying to get a shadow in the right place..." They have that lighting everywhere. Except the bathroom. Which was super pretty. Of course. And the soap was lovely. If I didn't mind making more of a spectacle of myself I'd definitely have asked about the soap. :bigsmile:


@Austina Totally!! Been wanting to go for eons - finally had a reason. Next time I want to take a friend though. Always more fun with a friend ::)


@dk168 Some part of me should probably be embarrassed by how many pics I took :lol: A trip to the island would be such an experience. And the Ginza store of course. One day.

You're in London? For some reason I thought you were - elsewhere in Europe. I come to London!! There are a few PS Brits I can't wait to meet in person one day!! I'm actually vaguely plotting a 'round the world airline points grab trip to Cape Town with a diamond friend late this year, and all of our plans involve flying through Heathrow, may as well make it a couple day sort of stop right?

The pave doesn't photograph well - pave never does I suppose! - but I really love Mikimoto's design sense. It feels so very Japanese. Nothing excessive, nothing overblown, nothing bloated. Just enough of each little detail to bring the artistry to life. And perfectly executed, of course. That Les Petales ring is taunting me still...


@lissyflo, @Daisys and Diamonds I asked about the pens!! But they're made for the boutiques, no sneaksies :cry: I want a pearl pen, gosh darn it.

The clasp on that necklace was some sort of magnetic number. I'm too stodgy for all these new-fangled clasps - give me something that audibly and tactiley clicks into place please. And get off my lawn. :lol:

Mikimoto America changed their return policy for Covid - online purchases can be sent back to customer service for refund or exchange, or returned to a boutique for store credit. 30 days - up from the old 14. In-store purchases, no returns - only exchanges, and still only 14 days. I haven't any idea how authorized distributors handle takebacks - maybe some are more forgiving on timelines?

I can see wanting a couple of pieces customized to improve on the stock A+ akoya one day. Always good to have an SA to pass those requests through.

If so its like the equivalent of posting pictures from a Bruce Springsteen concert you are at !
You're completely adorable :bigsmile: And we ❤️ you!!


@Diamond Girl 21 My pleasure! But let's be honest, I couldn't possibly not share :bigsmile:
 

yssie

Super_Ideal_Rock
Premium
Joined
Aug 14, 2009
Messages
22,079
@molinePDG It's a beautiful store!! And - get this - you can see inside!! The Crystals boutique used to be so dark - such a #BringYourOwnStrobe situation.

If you discover the secret to Miki knots I'll be sending - oh, just a handful - of strands your way. I'll package them up nice and safe for ya.


@Lisa Loves Shiny Y'know. I knew that someone here would appreciate conch pearls. And I'm not at all surprised that it's you. 8-)

I feel like... Honestly? I'm still learning to appreciate subtle gemstones. I had to come around to pearls. Diamonds, they razzle and bedazzle, they're in-your-face. I got diamonds. Pearls, I had to get used to looking for the things that draw me in... And even now, as far down this rabbit hole as I've fallen, I'm still a luster nut. I still prioritize the most in-your-face quality that a pearl has to offer.

You've got a different perspective. You're an aesthete with an eye for the delicate. And I'm glad I know you. :love: ::)


I love that you walked into MM and found something to call abysmal lol.
I just snorted my stout :lol: Ain't that the truth!! I've outdone myself. And I've probably exhausted my nitpick quota for the month. I just can't... Not... :lol: I was worried about scaring my SA before meeting her - but I managed to keep the pedant mostly leashed, and she took what I couldn't quite stifle in stride :lol:

If I've given your eyes something to be thankful for - oh, they're so very welcome!! ❤️And I'm rather confident my wallet will be joining yours as soon as she comes to :oops:

Pearl Luster Syndrome. Yeah... I've got a terrible case. Pearl Lust Syndrome :bigsmile: My issue with akoya has been that the quality bar kept moving. I was slowly climbing a very very long ladder, and I kept thinking I'd reached the top but then seeing something better than I'd seen before. Why didn't I just make the time to go to Mikimoto a couple of years ago? I feel like I've reached the ceiling on Tahitians, with my Andrew bracelet - I'm at the end of the Tahitian beanstalk. And now I'm there with akoya too. No more wondering what might be better. No more wanderlust. Fruition.


@marymm, @oceanblue Thank you!!! :bigsmile:


@pearlsngems I can't wait. I'm grinning like a loon to my myself just thinking about them. This is fruition - this is what I wanted from the beginning: An example of indusputable and unfailing "best of breed" larger akoya. I'll be sharing soooooo many photos when I get them... :mrgreen:
 

Daisys and Diamonds

Super_Ideal_Rock
Joined
Apr 30, 2019
Messages
10,729
Speaking of pearl luster did anyone see the Queen tonight on the tv news?
HM was talking to some Aussies over the internet after one of the state's unveiled a new life size statue of her (she got a table top sized version)

In the lighting where ever she was (at her current residence) the luster on her pearls were nothing short of ....majestic
No wonder she wears them lots !!!
 

dk168

Ideal_Rock
Premium
Joined
Jul 7, 2013
Messages
8,565
@yssie I used to have a base in London, however, I sold up and relocated to Wiltshire in 2006.

I miss the Big Smoke, and go up to London for theatre trips and nice meals on average 2 to 3 times a year as day trips.

I can stay overnight if required if a PS GTG is to be held in London (or anywhere else in UK), just need some advance notice and planning, that's all.

DK :))
 

Rhd3

Rough_Rock
Joined
Dec 7, 2019
Messages
76
What a day! There are so many outstanding pieces but the pearl and pink sapphire necklace will make an appearance in my dreams tonight. It drapes so beautifully.

I bet you can’t wait to wear your new earrings! They’re absolutely stunning.
 

yssie

Super_Ideal_Rock
Premium
Joined
Aug 14, 2009
Messages
22,079
@OdetteOdile I'll make a point to wear them often!!

I hardly ever wore my 9.7mm studs. I put it down to just having a general preference for diamond studs, but... I could always see that they weren't as spectacular as my smaller gem akoya strands. I tried to convince myself that bigger pearls can't ever be as phenomenal as smaller pearls - but I think I’ve always known that isn’t the case. I just had to prove it to myself. Now, given how excited I am about these new studs, I'm wondering how much of my hesitation has actually been wanting mind-clean pearls but not wanting to admit it? I could have saved myself several thousand dollars had I acknowledged my own perfectionism and simply bought these earrings from Mikimoto up front, brand premium and all, sigh. I suppose that’s the usual PS song and dance. I'll find out shortly!!

I have a pair of rose cut pear diamonds that I've been waffling on. I'm thinking I'll make a moi et toi style between-the-finger ring and I might just cannibalize my old studs for it. For whatever reasons they're perfectly mind-clean for a ring :shifty:


@MakingTheGrade Ugh. I know. I know. They're glorious. And I want. But I'm on an Earring Avoidance Programme. And I'm doing quite well - I've not replaced the pair I sold!! I'm out of earring storage - no more lipstick case colours. I've been out of ears for a blasted long time. I CANNOT buy more earrings. It's unjustifiable. You're my friend - don't let me buy more earrings!!

The Les Petales ring, on the other hand. My ring collection is kind of nonexistent. There's room to grow. If this moi et toi wasn't on the table that ring would have walked out with me. It still might, it's just a phone call away. My wallet is already hiding.


@icy_jade Oh my goodness the store was such a delight!! I was the only one there for most of my visit - a couple of other customers dropped in but another SA took care of them as my SA had blocked her early afternoon out for me. Talk about royal treatment ❤️

I would LOVE to go to the HK show one day. It's on my bucket list. I feel like I've seen and got enough to judge akoya, Tahitians, and WSS by. GSS, they're different beasts - that at this point I'm honestly not even interested in taming anymore. GSSs will be my "fun" pearls. No pressure to be #Grand. I should be fine as long as I don't ever visit a Jewelmer boutique :lol:

The window sunburn is ridiculous. I was laughing as I posted. I told my husband that I'm going to need to do some right face sunbathing as soon as I'm home - don't think he understood but he chose to not inquire further :halo:

Strand length. Didn't even occur to me but... Y'know, you aren't wrong... :???: My knotting has gotten a bit better. A bit. Just bought a bunch of thread and some beading needles. I'd like to be able to restring my own strands. My efforts will probably end in taking everything to my local place and asking them to string using the thread I provide, but hey, at least I'll be able to say that I gave it the ol' college try before giving it the ol' one-two :twisted2:


@Pinkmartini87 @CMN :wavey:❤️More to come!!


@ForteKitty OMG. Thank you!! That's so sweet of you!! Thoroughly gratifying when someone actually reads the novels. And actually gets something out of them - even better!! :bigsmile:

You're acquiring new pieces quite speedily ::) Pearls are nifty. They seem very honest - there’s only so much you can improve one once the oyster’s done with it. And ephemeral - can’t just recut and repolish indefinitely. They wear their stories and their histories on their sleeves... Kind of macabre but totally romantic... ::)


@LilAlex I took a loupe and calipers!! :lol:

They wouldn’t leave me alone with any of the pieces out of the displays, of course, but my SA encouraged me to try several on and walk around with them (trying to escape the spotlights!), check them out in different mirrors, take as many pics as I wanted. Very casual and friendly environment, they clearly want you to enjoy the the jewellery :love: But I’m sure Mikimoto doesn’t get nearly as many drop-ins and tourists as Tiffany right across the street so that’s easier to achieve!


@Rhd3 It was beautiful!! I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have a few fantasies of my own :halo:

I feel like I’m ten and counting down to Christmas. Even more exciting because I’ve already seen them!!!!! Maybe I’ll take unboxing photos. Ohhhh. I’ve never done that. My first priority when I get new jewellery is always cataloguing flaws - I’ll decide if I like it well enough to keep once I’ve got an inventory. But I already know I’ll love these! :bigsmile:
 

icy_jade

Ideal_Rock
Joined
May 1, 2009
Messages
4,178
@icy_jade Oh my goodness the store was such a delight!! I was the only one there for most of my visit - a couple of other customers dropped in but another SA took care of them as my SA had blocked her early afternoon out for me. Talk about royal treatment ❤️

I would LOVE to go to the HK show one day. It's on my bucket list. I feel like I've seen and got enough to judge akoya, Tahitians, and WSS by. GSS, they're different beasts - that at this point I'm honestly not even interested in taming anymore. GSSs will be my "fun" pearls. No pressure to be #Grand. I should be fine as long as I don't ever visit a Jewelmer boutique :lol:

The window sunburn is ridiculous. I was laughing as I posted. I told my husband that I'm going to need to do some right face sunbathing as soon as I'm home - don't think he understood but he chose to not inquire further :halo:

Strand length. Didn't even occur to me but... Y'know, you aren't wrong... :???: My knotting has gotten a bit better. A bit. Just bought a bunch of thread and some beading needles. I'd like to be able to restring my own strands. My efforts will probably end in taking everything to my local place and asking them to string using the thread I provide, but hey, at least I'll be able to say that I gave it the ol' college try before giving it the ol' one-two :twisted2:

You clearly deserved the royal treatment!

Jewelmer pearls are nice. I went to a few stores before. Great matching etc and imo uniformly matched orbs have a certain magnetic quality to them but not all individual pearls are fabulous - is like Mikimoto you know what I mean?

You have the “eye” so you will be fine with GSS. Really depends on what you like - color, luster, overtones. I think once you see some really stunning GSS, you will be smitten. Just don’t buy immediately... personally I think fairs are a great way to learn. If you see a few hundred or thousands of strands in a day, you learn quite quickly. Plus in any case not all booths have those 0.01% pearls and those pearls are easy to spot.

Logically big knots makes financial sense if I am a seller- fewer pearls for the same length right? But once you have seen little knots the big knots can be such an eyesore. Am not criticizing your knotting k? Just my personal view on knotting. Anyway personally I like mine to be strung on wires.

Ouch re your sunburn. Hope there’s no tonal issue when it settles...
 

SparklieBug

Shiny_Rock
Joined
Feb 23, 2013
Messages
378
@yssie Thanks for the informative posts! Who'd a thunk that reading about nacre deposition would be a page-turner?! LOL!

Your style of exhaustive research (and reporting) reminds me of my DH with his love (obsession?) of guitars, bikes and cars. I'm used to this level of research and greatly appreciate it. I, left to my own devices, might do the research but am far too lazy to share in such depth! So, many thanks. :razz:
 

yssie

Super_Ideal_Rock
Premium
Joined
Aug 14, 2009
Messages
22,079
You clearly deserved the royal treatment!

Jewelmer pearls are nice. I went to a few stores before. Great matching etc and imo uniformly matched orbs have a certain magnetic quality to them but not all individual pearls are fabulous - is like Mikimoto you know what I mean?

You have the “eye” so you will be fine with GSS. Really depends on what you like - color, luster, overtones. I think once you see some really stunning GSS, you will be smitten. Just don’t buy immediately... personally I think fairs are a great way to learn. If you see a few hundred or thousands of strands in a day, you learn quite quickly. Plus in any case not all booths have those 0.01% pearls and those pearls are easy to spot.

Logically big knots makes financial sense if I am a seller- fewer pearls for the same length right? But once you have seen little knots the big knots can be such an eyesore. Am not criticizing your knotting k? Just my personal view on knotting. Anyway personally I like mine to be strung on wires.

Ouch re your sunburn. Hope there’s no tonal issue when it settles...

I'd be taking my sweet time buying anything, that's for sure. Leave the cash and cards at home the first day. I wouldn't trust my own willpower!! I've got a GSS story but I'll save that one for another time :???:

Knots... Tahitians from Andrew Moline (and knotted by his stringer) top, Tahitians from (and knotted by) Pearl Paradise bottom. Pearl Paradise has actually strung everything I've got except that one Andrew strand. Pearl Paradise's knots are much more delicate despite those pearls having slightly bigger drill holes. But Andrew's stringer's knots are... I'm not sure how to describe it, exactly. Tighter? Stiffer? I wear that bracelet frequently and it hasn't relaxed noticeably at all - you can see how it's still wanting to kink and I've had it for a couple of months. I wonder if it's the knotting itself or the thread type? Both?

How do I get small knots like Pearl Paradise's that stay tight like Andrew's stringer's? :bigsmile:

I should disclaim that my own knotting ability is nought, but I'm comfy in my ivory tower here :lol:

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