The Evolution of the Pearl Trade From Kokichi Mikimoto to Today

JCK has documented the evolution of the pearl trade in America since the late 1800s. From Kokichi Mikimoto’s cultured pearl invention in 1893 to the impact of today’s climate-change crisis, we track the industry’s progress. "The pearl is still the queen of gems. All really fine gems of the water find a more or less ready market in the trade and if of really fine quality command almost fabulous prices.” These words are taken from an 1893 editorial in The Jewelers’ Review titled “The Popularity of Pearls.” The pearls in question? All natural—wild-­harvested from the Persian Gulf and purchased in Bahrain, or amassed by high-end ­importers through European dealers who procured from a variety of sources in “the Orient.” That same year, Kokichi Mikimoto, the inventor of cultured pear
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