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Identifying Vintage Mikimoto Pearl Jewellery

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Mikimoto pearls are the highest grade of cultured pearls available. Mikimoto pearls were first created by Kokichi Mikimoto in 1893 after years of painstaking research and trials using an implanted core to Akoya oyster shells. The oysters built up layers of nacre creating cultured pearls more quickly than a natural pearl would grow. The same process is still used today by Mikimoto.

Vintage Mikimoto pearls are gorgeous gems which can be purchased for a fraction of their modern counterpart but caution needs to be taken to ensure the item is genuine. All Mikimoto jewellery is marked either with Mikimoto or the trade mark M in an Akoya oyster shell and either a silver or gold mark. The silver marks vary from S, SIL, Sterling, Silver, 950. If it is not marked with a Mikimoto mark it cannot be said to be genuine. A box or certificate is not enough to guarantee authenticity. These are easily purchased on eBay without the pearls.

All Mikimoto pearls will be perfectly round with no lumps or imperfections. The nacre will be high quality thick, rich and full of lustre. The pearls range in size from 3-10mm depending on the size of the mother oyster. There will be no colour variation in the pearls within the piece of jewellery. Vintage Mikimoto jewellery was always set with cream coloured to white pearls. Coloured Mikiomoto pearls are a contemporary item. 

Pearls strands

Vintage pearl strands were traditionally threaded on a double silk strand with individual knotting between the ends of 4 or 5 pearls ONLY. Individual knotting was not traditional in Japan, nor in any Asian country for that matter, as it was seen to distract and interrupt the beauty of the strand. The clasp will always be marked with the M in an oyster shell. Due to the age of many vintage strands they will have been rethreaded and it is important to purchase through a reputable dealer to get a guarantee of authenticity. Like boxes, clasps are easily purchased on eBay.

Vintage 1940's Mikimoto clasp

Distinctive M in an oyster shell.
A simple S for Silver.

Vintage 1960's Mikimoto clasp

Distinctive M in an oyster shell.
A simple SIL for Silver.

Pearl Brooches

Mikimoto pearl brooches have distinctive Japanese clasps and hinges. Although found on other brooches of Japanese origin it is the easiest thing to look for first. Note the rounded profile or ball shape of both the hinge and the clasp. Look also at the varied Mikimoto markings all with the consistent M in an oyster shell.

Distinctive Ball type clasp.

An early Mikimoto Tokyo mark and oyster shell mark

Note the balled clasp and hinge.

A simple M in an oyster shell mark and S for silver.

Pearl Earrings and Pendants.

Mikimoto Pearl earrings, like the brooches, have distinctive fittings. The vintage pieces always have screw fitting and the screw is always concave to the top with the Mikimoto oyster shell mark to the inner curve.

Pendants are harder to find but beautiful pieces. They will be marked to the backs.

The concave earring back.

A pendant marking.

A tie pin mark.

Another pendant mark.

Other pieces vintage Mikimoto vintage jewellery we have come across are tie pins and cuff links. 

View our current and sold Vintage Mikimoto Jewellery

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