For all their glamour and prestige, cultured pearls were first created under unexpectedly modest circumstances. Kokichi Mikimoto, the son of a noodle-shop owner, developed an early fascination with natural pearls but was dismayed by their uneven quality and erratic availability. Inspired to develop a method for cultivating pearls that would match the beauty of the finest natural ones, Mikimoto experimented for more than five years—and nearly faced financial ruin—before hitting upon a successful method in 1893. That first discovery was the beginning of his namesake jewelry company, which was destined to become Japan’s leading luxury brand and synonymous with exceptional pearl jewelry the world over.
To celebrate its 120-year history, the Mikimoto brand has unveiled Four Seasons ($170,000 to $275,000), a collection of nine lavish, one-of-a-kind pieces inspired by the unique beauty of each fleeting phase of the year. The winter-themed suite surrounds baroque white South Sea pearls with an organically shaped formation of jewels in icy hues—sapphires, Paraíba tourmalines, and diamonds—and set in white gold. A pendant necklace, a ring, and earrings frame white South Sea pearls in a fresh, garden palette of pink and purple sapphires, amethysts, Paraíba tourmalines, and diamonds to represent the delicate splendor of spring. Summer sunshine and the sea translate into pink, orange, yellow, and blue sapphires surrounding a white South Sea cultured pearl in a ring and earrings. Golden South Sea pearls combined with spessartite garnets and yellow and orange sapphires evoke autumn’s warm colors.
A beautiful tribute to the legacy of the company’s founder, the jewels represent the highest expression of both the culture-pearl technique he mastered and the artistry developed by Mikimoto during its long history. (www.mikimotoamerica.com)