Mikimoto Pearls

Winsor Bishop’s pearl ambassador Keiko Wilson was recently lucky enough to visit the Mikimoto flagship store in Tokyo to view their outstanding displays of pearls and the new Basle collections that will shortly be arriving in store. This was subsequently followed by a fabulous in house Mikimoto afternoon tea party at Winsor Bishop’s London Street store where customers were able to preview and try on the exclusive Basle pieces before they arrive officially in store in August/September.

Pearls, the birthstone for June, have always been synonymous with grace and classic beauty, their timeless elegance and subtle lustre being much revered. They make wonderful gifts for every occasion and at weddings, pearls are perfect for both brides and guests.

Formed naturally when a tiny fragment such as a piece of shell or grain of sand lodges inside the oyster shell, the oyster then surrounds the irritant with a coating of nacre which forms the actual pearl. This process happens in the wild however the vast majority of pearls that are sold these days are cultivated using a process that was first devised and patented by Kokochi Mikimoto over 120 years ago and today his company are still cultivating the very finest pearls in the world.

This world renowned Japanese empire was started by Mikimoto in 1893 when he became the first person to cultivate pearls. With a background in the marine products industry in his native Shima, Mikimoto was concerned not only with the number of oysters that were being harvested yearly in search of pearls resulting in them starting to become scarce, but also with the poor quality of pearls that were being sold and he became determined to grow perfect pearls artificially. He did this by inserting a piece of oyster membrane into an oyster's body causing the oyster to form a pearl sack around the irritant. Initially he managed to create semi spherical pearls (known as mabe pearls) but it was not until the 1920s over 20 years later that he managed to start producing perfect spherical pearls in a commercial harvest and this led the way in producing cultured pearls that is used in this vast industry today.

In 1906, the Mikimoto Pearl Store opened in Nakimi Street, Ginza where the current flagship store remains today. The new store was again a trend-leader – this time in architecture – with a distinctly modern Western style which stood out amongst the traditional Japanese buildings of the Ginza district; and was widely known as “the pearl-coloured store” due to its unusual white stone façade.

If you would like to view the new collection when it arrives in store call Keiko on 01603 620638 and make an appointment.

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