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Kokichi Mikimoto Cultured Pearls

(Prepared by Pubulic Relations Section Genneral Affairs Division)

Kokichi Mikimoto met Dr. Yoshikichi Minosaku, an authority in the fisheries industry, at an exhibit of Shima natural pearls. Dr. Minosaku advised him that if a foreign body such as sand were introduced into an Akoya oyster, the oyster would secrete a pearl substance in layers around the object to eventually form a pearl. From that point Mikimoto devoted himself to developing man-made pearls and eventually succeeded in producing a semi-circular pearl on the inside of a cultured Akoya oyster shell. Mikimoto obtained a patent for this cultured pearl in 1896.

Based on this success the inventor began research on producing a perfectly round cultured pearl. He succeeded in his endeavor by a method of inducing the oyster to secrete a pearl substance around the core object. Mikimoto went on to become the first entrepreneur to successfully commercialize the sale of cultured pearls.

Under the name of Mikimoto Pearls, these pearls became a representative export product of contemporary Japan and presently occupy 60% of the world cultured pearl market.

Cultured pearls

Cultured pearls

Cultured pearls

(Photos: K. Mikimoto & Co., Ltd.)

Linked from [Ten Japanese Great Inventors]

[Last updated 7 October 2002]