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  1. #1
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    Default Vintage Mikimoto Pearls

    I recently inherited a graduated pearl princess-style necklace from my grandmother that came in a Mikimoto box. My grandfather bought them for her in Japan some time between 1944 and 1953, as he was a pilot in both W.W.II and the Korean War and visited Japan a few times during those years. He has since passed away, so I am not able to ask him the specifics around his purchase of this necklace.

    The necklace is 19” in length, not including the clasp (a little under 20” with the clasp). The clasp is a single strand box clasp with a pretty little floral etching. I am unsure as to what type of metal the clasp is made from, as it doesn’t appear to have any markings...but those may have worn away over time, due to its age. It looks to me as if the clasp is sterling silver but, again, without a stamp, I cannot make any exact claims.

    There are 91 pearls total, the largest central pearl has an 8mm measurement, the two pearls on either side of it are approximately 7mm each, the third pearls on either side are approximately 6mm each, and so on. The smallest pearls closest to the clasp measure in at approximately 3mm. The pearls’ body color is a light cream with a yellow-pinkish overtone, and bluish-greenish iridescent luster that is apparent when viewed under certain lights. The pictures I’ve taken of them truly do not do their coloration justice. They all appear to be perfectly round with no scratches or imperfections that are visible to the naked eye. Since the necklace doesn’t have the trademark Mikimoto clasp, I am unsure if the strand broke at some time and the original clasp was replaced or if they are from the “Mikimoto Gift Selection, (Mikimoto brand name packaging in non trademarked jewelry settings and value grade pearls)”- something I learned about in a post that Caitlin left in response to another consumer’s inquiry.

    I called the Mikimoto store in Costa Mesa to find out if I could receive a certificate of evaluation from them. Apparently, due to the fact that my necklace does not possess the signature Miki clasp, they are unable to provide me with that service. When I mentioned that my necklace does not have a certificate of authenticity accompanying it, I was told by the Miki sales lady that, due to its age, it wouldn’t have come with one at its time of purchase. Apparently, Mikimoto didn’t begin providing those until many years (decades?) later.

    Long story short, if there is anyone who might be able to provide me why a very rough estimate as to what the value of my pearl necklace might be, or any additional relevant information, including resources to seek out how to determine the grade and value of my pearls,I would greatly appreciate it! Thank you so very much for your time!!!
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  2. #2
    Pearl Designer & Collector Senior Pearl-Guide.com Pearl Expert
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    Hi Phoenix,

    Welcome

    It is a pity the clasp may have been changed if you are certain they are Mikimoto pearls because without that it is doubtful you can get Miki prices. Three of your photos show them to be very good looking pearls in my opinion but without the mark on the clasp M within a Shell I personally think it will be almost impossible if not entirely impossible to sell them as Mikimoto pearls.

    I sell on eBay and prices there vary a lot for Akoya and even Mikis. I have seen Mikimoto pearls go as cheap as just over $400 and I think over $1000 and up depending on grade etc. But also there are many grades of Mikimoto pearls. Yours look good to me but probably not top grade, but still very good.

    Hopefully there maybe some Mikimoto experts out there that could advise on this. But regardless I doubt you could ever sell them as Mikimoto due to the wrong clasp, regardless of your certificate. From the condition of the pearls I would say it is very unlikely that the clasp could have taken so much wear as to remove the markings. It is possible that the clasp was broken and replaced but that doesn't gel with what you were told about no certificates being issued back then.

    It is possible that your grandmother sold the actual Mikimotos and replaced them with a non specific brand so as not to anger your grandfather. We women can be sneaky at times. I guess the possibilities are endless.

    But they are very nice pearls and you could try offering them at antique shops or similar to get an idea on what you would be offered. My feeling though is that it would not be much. Might be worth hanging on to unless you really need the money. If you do maybe you could try selling them on eBay with a reserve on them.
    If they had the Miki clasp on eBay you would likely get $700 to $1000. But as is you might only end up with $300 or $400 or even less, hence the reserve.

    Good luck, Dawn
    eBay Seller ID dawncee333

  3. #3
    Pearl Enthusiast Senior Pearl-Guide.com Pearl Expert Pearl Dreams's Avatar
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    I think, as Dawn says, without either a certificate or Miki clasp, it will be hard to sell them as Miki pearls. Look at it from the view of the potential buyer-- how much would someone pay, knowing that down the road when the buyer may wish to resell them, they themselves would be unable to sell them as Mikis?

    In my opinion, they are lovely looking pearls and you might want to wear them yourself! They should be restrung for safety in any case, so that would be a good time to shorten the strand if 19" is too long for you. A find strand of pearls is never out of fashion.

    Is there someone in the family likely to be a bride in the foreseeable future? An heirloom strand of pearls would be a wonderful thing to have for the bride to be able to wear.

  4. #4
    Pearl Scholar Senior Pearl-Guide.com Pearl Expert pattye's Avatar
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    On ebay there is a place to put in a description of the item you wish to sell, and it gives you the average price of similar items sold recently.

    Your necklace is very lovely and the silk does not appear stretched, so perhaps no need to restring. Your necklace seems to be in fine condition, probably with thicker nacre, and slightly longer than the average necklace.

    Average price for "Mikimoto graduated pearl necklace" sold on ebay is $491.

    Average price for "Akoya graduated pearl necklace" sold on ebay is $315.
    Last edited by pattye; 07-05-2010 at 02:37 PM.
    Pattye


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  5. #5
    Rare Pearl Senior Pearl-Guide.com Pearl Expert Caitlin's Avatar
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    That is good info. The ebay tricks I never learned.....

    The box has a value of its own for people with a clasp, and I think it is rather rare.
    Caitlin

    How to hand-knot pearls without a tool

    My avatar is a Sea of Cortez mabe pearl. One of a pair of Mexican handmade earrings.

  6. #6
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    WOW! What a helpful forum this has turned out to be! Thank you all so very much for your feedback.

    Dawn- I had a giggle over what you said here, "It is possible that your grandmother sold the actual Mikimotos and replaced them with a non specific brand so as not to anger your grandfather. We women can be sneaky at times." It certainly IS possible that my grandma might have sold the originals for a little bit of pocket cash and replaced them with a lesser known brand. It's also possible that my grandpa purchased an unmarked string of pearls and put them in a Mikimoto box so that my grandma would think that she was receiving a gift of greater monetary value than its actual worth. In addition to those two scenarios, it's perhaps my grandpa got taken advantage of by a sales person in Japan who deceived my grandpa into believing that, due to them being in a Mikimoto box, the pearls were, indeed, Mikimoto originals. Basically, the big question is: Is this a stand of Mikimoto pearls that has lost its original clasp due to a re-stringing or were these never Mikimotos to begin with???

    Since both of my grandparents have passed on, there's no way for me to seek out any answers about the history of this pearl necklace. It's a family heirloom enshrouded in mystery.

    Pearl Dreams- Thank you for pointing out that these pearls would be a lovely item to wear and keep in the family. I am very sentimentally attached to them, but have only actually worn them on a couple of occasions since my mother first gave them to me after my grandma's death nearly a decade ago. I have recently run into some unexpected expenses and my mother has been urging me to sell the necklace. I am hesitant to do so. To be perfectly honest, the only way I'd consider putting them up for sale is if their monetary value exceeds their sentimental value. So far, that doesn't seem to be the case.

    Pattye- Thank you so much for listing the average prices that Mikimoto graduated pearl strands and regular Akoya pearl strands are going for on eBay. That helps a lot. Am I correct in reading that you believe my pearls to be a strand of cultured Akoyas?

    Cailtin- Thank you for mentioning the potential that the box might be of some value. I'll have to look into that...

    In closing, do any of you happen to know of a reputable gemologist/jeweler/pearl specialist in the San Francisco Bay Area whom I could seek out a more accurate estimate and, possibly, even a certificate with their grade and other pertinent information included on it?

    Thanks again for all of your help!!!

    Best of Wishes,

    Hilary

  7. #7
    Rare Pearl Senior Pearl-Guide.com Pearl Expert Caitlin's Avatar
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    Mikis are cultured akoyas, so it is reasonable to think they are akoyas based on that and a couple of other things, like the age (no freshwaters back then). The other big alternative from that time is they are fake- and I don't think they are fake. ergo akoya is the best bet.
    Caitlin

    How to hand-knot pearls without a tool

    My avatar is a Sea of Cortez mabe pearl. One of a pair of Mexican handmade earrings.

  8. #8
    Pearl Journalist Senior Pearl-Guide.com Pearl Expert GemGeek's Avatar
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    If your purpose is to maximize the money you can get from selling them, you'll be spending probably a minimum of $150 for an appraisal, which would reduce the money you would realize from the sale. Since you are in SF, go to Lang Antiques and ask them if they would be willing to take them on consignment. If they aren't interested, they might offer their opinion of what you should do.

    Good Luck,
    Blaire
    GemGeek
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  9. #9
    Rare Pearl Senior Pearl-Guide.com Pearl Expert Caitlin's Avatar
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    Meanwhile, wear them. Wearing them on your skin wakes them up. Wear them with your most casual clothes to your nicest. Mix them with other stuff-2-3 necklaces etc. A rope of freshwaters.

    They aren't your grandmother's pearls any more! They are more in style now than they were for decades. Please don't leave pearls in storage. They are organic gems almost alive with the protein that makes them iridescent. Bring that iridescence out even more with wear and warmth.
    Caitlin

    How to hand-knot pearls without a tool

    My avatar is a Sea of Cortez mabe pearl. One of a pair of Mexican handmade earrings.

  10. #10
    Pearl Enthusiast Senior Pearl-Guide.com Pearl Expert Pearl Dreams's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by phoenix82 View Post
    ...I am very sentimentally attached to them.... my mother has been urging me to sell the necklace. I am hesitant to do so. To be perfectly honest, the only way I'd consider putting them up for sale is if their monetary value exceeds their sentimental value. So far, that doesn't seem to be the case....
    See, that says it all to me. I wouldn't sell them just because your mother is urging you to, if you yourself are sentimentally attached to them. One can always earn money, or sell things that one is not attached to and which can be replaced, but once these pearls are sold, they are gone for good.

  11. #11
    Pearl Scholar Senior Pearl-Guide.com Pearl Expert pattye's Avatar
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    phoenix 82,

    Yes, I completely agree with Pearl Dreams. These pearls are a Treasure, and I do think you would regret parting with them for a few hundred dollars.
    Pattye


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  12. #12
    Pearl Designer & Collector Senior Pearl-Guide.com Pearl Expert
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    It's also possible that my grandpa purchased an unmarked string of pearls and put them in a Mikimoto box so that my grandpa would think that she was receiving a gift of greater monetary value than its actual worth. In addition to those two scenarios,
    Hi phoenix82,

    So very glad you got a giggle out of it. I was a little worried you might be offended so people may have been but I thought the possibility needed to be pointed out. Even extremely rich people falling on hard times have copies made and sell there diamonds, rubies etc.

    Regardless they look like beautiful pearls and I agree that if you can keep them do try to. Brand names are not everything and they look better than some grades of Mikis, well in my opinion anyway.

    I doubt your grandpa "did the dirty" Hah. As I think it would have been very hard for him to aquire a Mikimoto box to put them in. The possibilities really are endless

    If you really do need to sell them do as others have said and really shop around for the best price. Do not take the first half decent price you are offered, that is if you are offered a half decent price, which is unlikely. Shops need to make a good profit so you are only going to half or third, if that, of what they are worth on the market. Good luck and I do hope you get to keep them. Pearls are something you are already coming to love and buying more of this quality later will cost you a lot more. I am sure in the future you will become an avid collector but these have sentimental value, so keep if you can.

    One other thing you can do is go online and search the eBay sites for similar quality pearls. You will find them listed at auction and in shops. Auctions are always hit or miss and shops are often over-priced but it will give you an idea of what you have.

    Oh, yes they are Akoya as Caitlin said unless they are very good imitations which I doubt.

    Dawn
    eBay seller ID dawncee333

  13. #13

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    I know this post is old, but just so you know these are real Mikimoto pearls and the clasp that is in the photos is the original clasp.

    I would be interested if you took them someplace and they told you otherwise.

    I have a set of the same one, they are from the same era and from Japan as well. I have diffrent color box, but the rest is identical. There was no faul play lol - they are what they are. I know how the ones I have came from Japan to America during the Koren War, I'm sure they are not worth as much as some others, but are real

    Cheers!

  14. #14

    Default Pearls Purchased in Korean War

    Quote Originally Posted by PMAC View Post
    I know this post is old, but just so you know these are real Mikimoto pearls and the clasp that is in the photos is the original clasp.

    I would be interested if you took them someplace and they told you otherwise.

    I have a set of the same one, they are from the same era and from Japan as well. I have diffrent color box, but the rest is identical. There was no faul play lol - they are what they are. I know how the ones I have came from Japan to America during the Koren War, I'm sure they are not worth as much as some others, but are real

    Cheers!
    I also have inherited a similar string of pearls which my father purchased for my mother during the Korean War. However my daughter will be wearing them for her wedding this upcoming year so I wanted to have them restrung. When I took them to the jeweler I was also told they were fake. I was shocked. He said I should take them to another jeweler to verify for certain - one with an xray. The strand looks very similar to the one here although the clasp is a little different and the strand is not knotted. I do not have the original box but I remember my mother having had it. I wish I had it. Either way the pearls were my mothers and now they are mine forever

  15. #15
    Pearl Journalist Senior Pearl-Guide.com Pearl Expert GemGeek's Avatar
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    It's a sad fact that not all jewelry salespeople have much knowledge of pearls. Perhaps they meant cultured, but said fake. Please take some photos on a white paper towel in indirect daylight. Getting some good close-up shots will help us to tell you what you have. Use the macro setting on your camera (little flower) or get someone to help you take some photos when you get a chance. I would not have them restrung until you know if they are real.

    You only need to prove Mikimoto pearls if you are trying to sell pearls as being from that company. Much better to treasure your Mother's pearls than to sell them.

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