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YV&C News Desk wrote: The only gem created by a living animal, pearls have been a sign of classic good taste and beauty for more than 4,000 years. For more than 100 years, Mikimoto has duplicated the natural process, and become the world's leading producer of cultured pearls. Here, Mikimoto's Robert Artelt, shares with YV&C readers some of the company's newest designs, and offers advice on what to look for when purchasing pearl jewelry.


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Gems From the Sea For Your Yacht Charter
Whether in ropes, rings, or posts, pearls define classic style

Pearls of Many Colors
Pearls are available in a variety of colors, some natural and some treated. “Mikimoto uses only natural-colored pearls,” says Artelt. He explains that color depends on the particular oyster. “Japanese Akoya oysters produce pearls in a pinkish-white-to- white color range. On rare occasions they may produce a golden color;” he says, “which are the rarest, and thus the most expensive.” Larger South Sea oysters can produce white, black, and golden pearls, but may also produce slight variations like bronze and silvery gray. Artelt stresses that color is a very personal preference, but says, “the company’s Japanese pearls, white with a pinkish overtone, are the most popular.”

Size Matters
Pearls are measured in millimeters, and Artelt says, “Generally, the larger the pearl, the rarer it is.” Japanese pearls vary in size from 3mm to 9.5mm. Over 8.5mm, the pearls become extremely rare, but Mikimoto has had strands up to 11mm in size.

Mikimoto takes extreme care in exactly matching the size and characteristics of each pearl on a strand. To this end, the company has established one of the first pearl grading systems in the industry. According to Artelt, the three major criteria that affect the value of a pearl, are:

  • Luster: the reflectiveness of the pearl;
  • Shape: the roundness of the pearl; and
  • Surface perfection: the blemishes on the surface of the pearl.

Which is the most important characteristic? “If I were to choose one thing,” says Artelt, “it would be the luster of the pearl. A high luster shows that the pearl has a strong layer growth of nacre, which adds to its durability.”

Special Collections
Artelt says that a necklace of Japanese pearls is Mikimoto’s biggest seller, followed by pearl stud earrings. Men’s cufflinks are also popular gift items (see photo). Although he prefers not to comment on expensive jewelry sales for security reasons, Artelt says Mikimoto sells many items over $100,000, usually containing the larger South Sea pearls. In recent years, Mikimoto has combined other gems with their pearls, adding a number of “fashion jewelry” lines to their popular classics.

“This year,” Artelt says, “we are celebrating our heritage with our Vintage Collection.” This line features designs from Mikimoto’s archives, dating back to the 1920s and ’30s (shown). A selection from the Vintage Collection comes in an authentic pearl folder, made from Japanese kimono fabric. The fabric is more than 70 years old and each package is unique. Modern fabric lines the inside of the folder to help control the quality of the pearls (see sidebar “Caring for your pearls”).

Pearls in Motion (see photo) is a Mikimoto design that uses a patented system that allows the pearls to move along the chain they are on, and stay where they are placed. “It’s a versatile design,” says Artelt, “one in which you can configure a Y-necklace, or move the pearls to the front of the necklace.”

The Elements of Life collection pays tribute to the natural world, and features Ocean, Fire, Earth, and Wind designs. These creations highlight pearls with blue, pink, and golden sapphires. The fabulous Waterfall necklace combines blue sapphires that graduate in color with Japanese Akoya cultured pearls (see photo).

Mikimoto’s newest collection, launched in October, was designed specifically to support breast cancer research through the Young Survival Coalition; 15% of all sales are donated to this cause. The collection features the colors synonymous with breast cancer research: pink sapphires with white pearls.

Whichever you choose, from simple pearl studs to an extravagant strand of South Sea golden pearls, a Mikimoto design will surely be a treasured gift from the sea.  

Caring for your pearls
Put them on last, take them off first –that’s the best advice when caring for your pearl jewelry. As pearls are of an organic nature, coming from a living animal, they are not as hard as most gems. Their outer layer of nacre is susceptible to acid and other chemicals found in fragrance and makeup. To ensure that the lustrous coating remains intact, Mikimoto recommends cleaning pearls after each use with a soft cloth treated with a silicon substance. (Mikimoto pearls come with a specially treated cloth.)

Pay careful attention to the stringing of your pearls, as well. Mikimoto takes special care with the stringing, meticulously matching the pearls’ size and luster. Each of their necklaces is strung on silk string, with a knot tied between each pearl on the strand. Hand-knotting prevents all the pearls from falling off, if by some chance, the strand breaks; it also prevents the pearls from rubbing against each other and causing damage. To avoid strand breakage, Artelt recommends having your pearls restrung as often as once a year if you wear them frequently.

Caring for your precious pearls ensures they’ll be a source of joy for generations to come!

About Jamie Matusow
Jamie Matusow is a freelance writer based in New York. She was the long time managing editor of legendary Yacht Vacations & Charters Magazine. Jamie traveled extensively throughout Mediterranean, Caribean, and the Bahamas where she filed many of her charter stories.

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Robert Artelt is no longer with mikimoto

The only gem created by a living animal, pearls have been a sign of classic good taste and beauty for more than 4,000 years. For more than 100 years, Mikimoto has duplicated the natural process, and become the world's leading producer of cultured pearls. Here, Mikimoto's Robert Artelt, shares with YV&C readers some of the company's newest designs, and offers advice on what to look for when purchasing pearl jewelry.


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