From the earliest days of his company, Kokichi Mikimoto recognized the importance of jewellery design. Researchers were dispatched to the U.S. and Europe to study design and manufacturing techniques. The reference materials and actual pieces they brought back to Japan were used to train jewellery designers in cutting-edge Western design and manufacturing skills, laying the foundation for modern jewellery production in Japan. Kokichi Mikimoto spent decades developing new interpretations of traditional Japanese motifs for aesthetically pleasing pearl jewellery, skillfully blending traditional Japanese metalworking craftsmanship and European manufacturing techniques to create the distinctive Mikimoto style.
Exhibited at the 1937 World Exposition in Paris, this multifunctional sash clip could be used in 12 different configurations. Intricately decorated with calibre settings and finished with millegrain beading, the refined design and exquisite craftsmanship of this unique piece was the ultimate example of the distinctive Mikimoto style of the 1930s.
Launched in 1908, the Mikimoto Pearl product catalog was published until 1938. Looking at the even the earliest issues, it is easy to see the importance placed on jewellery design. Featuring detailed design sketches that reveal the transition and development of the distinctive Mikimoto style, issues of Pearl are archived as valuable reference materials.
Using the experience and knowledge they brought back from Europe, MIKIMOTO's designers began to create jewellery that perfectly combines Japanese and Western design. This distinctive MIKIMOTO style is still kept alive by our designers over 120 years since the inception of the brand.
Today, all of the designs are created by the in-house team of 20 designers. For any given theme, dozens of rough drafts are hand drawn, from which only few are selected. Designs are worked up using fine-point brushes and traditional Japanese ink, followed by watercolour paints and coloured pencils to express each delicate detail of the piece. This detailed 3D-like fair copy will then be used in a meeting with the craftsmen. This collaboration with the intricate craftsmanship brings the designer's idea to life.
The Mikimoto Gold Work Factory (today's Mikimoto Jewellery Mfg. Co., Ltd.) was established in 1907 as a dedicated manufacturing facility for the Mikimoto Pearl Store. At the time, Japanese accessories tended to be rings, sash clips and hair ornaments. Integrated facilities to manufacture a variety of items were rare and no existing factory was capable of incorporating elements of Western design. Introducing European designs and manufacturing techniques, the Mikimoto Gold Work Factory pioneered the production of innovative pearl jewellery. As the distinctive Mikimoto style evolved over the years, sophisticated techniques were developed and the number of skilled craftsmen increased. Mastering techniques such as millegrain, openwork, and Keshi pearl beadwork, Mikimoto produced jewellery to rival the best pieces from the West. These techniques and pride in craftsmanship continue to define the living heritage of Mikimoto.