Japanese Cultured Pearls

When one hears "Japanese cultured pearls," one thinks of the name "Mikimoto" and of the traditional "akoya"—2-mm to 7-mm or even 8-mm perfectly round, high-luster, white or pink-rosé pearls. And rightly so. After all, it was Kokichi Mikimoto, a vegetable merchant and noodle salesman, who in 1919 finally perfected the technique of culturing pearls. Mikimoto grew full-round pearls by inserting beads into the pinctada martensii mollusk, now simply called akoya. But even though Mikimoto's akoya pearls still reign supreme, Japan is known for quite a number of different cultured pearls. History and romance. In the late 1800s, Mikimoto began implanting beads into oysters. Now the name Mikimoto is held up as the standard for excellence in high-quality akoya cultured pearls. Natural pearls have a millennium of curious history, including references to the pearl's being the "hidden soul of t

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