I haven't seen a AAA strand of Mikimoto pearls at an actual Mikimoto store in a very long time. We have a Mikimoto store in Beverly Hills and I'd been in a couple of times, but they did not have a AAA strand in stock before my visit yesterday.
H. and I were shopping next door and had a bit of time before dinner, so we decided to stop in and check out the akoya.
The salesperson showed us four different strands of AAA. They ranged from 5.5-6 mm to as large as 8-8.5 mm. All four strands had numerous, visible inclusions. The 8-8.5 mm had the fewest, least noticeable marks, but the smaller strands had marks on nearly all of the pearls. The luster was fantastic, I must say. The pearls were true mirrored balls.
I asked the salesperson if something had changed and if this were the AAA1 grade. He responded that it was not the AAA1 but the true AAA, and that they used to carry Gem, but they didn't any more.