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  1. #1

    Default value of 1949 Mikimoto strand

    When we married, my husband gave me his grandmother's Mikimoto pearls purchased in Kyoto, Japan in 1949. The strand is 19 inches long. They have been restrung and knotted. The clasp is sterling silver. It has a pearls in the middle -- no Mikimoto mark. The box is red and says K., Mikimoto, inc. It also says Ginza Tokyo. I'm not sure of the size of the pearls. The middle one is large and then they get smaller.

    Today we went to Antiques Roadshow and the appraiser told me that they were worth less than $100. He said that they are not perfectly round and that they have some imperfections. My mother in law was shocked. She says that her father paid $300 for them in 1949. (It's possible that she has this information wrong.

    Now I wonder if they are Mikimoto at all? Maybe my husbands grandfather got ripped off. Any insight from anyone?

  2. #2

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    One more thing. My mother in law refers to my pearls as baroque.

  3. #3
    Super Moderator Senior Pearl-Guide.com Pearl Expert jshepherd's Avatar
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    I would not put much weight in what an appraiser at an antique roadshow would tell you about a strand of pearls. Most jewelers cannot valuate pearls correctly, and anyone not a specialist would simply be pulling a figure out of a hat. I highly doubt the figure he gave was even an educated guess, as no professional would put such a low value on a strand of Mikimoto pearls that are clearly vintage based on the graduation of the necklace.

    The actual value of the strand would rest in the quality of the strand, and how well it has been maintained over the years. Mikimoto is a famous brand, of course, so there is a lot of value in a vintage strand if the papers are in order and the hallmark is maintained. I would be somewhat concerned with the non-original clasp, however.

    To gauge true value I suggest an appraiser that specializes in vintage jewelry and pearls. Maybe you will be able to find comparables if you research as well.

  4. #4
    Pearl Maven Senior Pearl-Guide.com Pearl Expert Caitlin's Avatar
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    That was THE Antiques Roadshow?

    A Miki is worth the most when you have the clasp, the certificate and the box. If collectors think it is Mikimoto, it will go for more than $100. Mikimotos appear regularly on eBay. The collectors know their Mikis and bid them up to fair market value, so if you watch some that are similar to yours, you will get an idea of what it will cost you to replace them.

    They are vintage pearls, Mikimoto or not, so they will have thicker nacre than the average is today and thicker nacre means they are more likely to be slightly off round, but thicker nacre is actually good for durability.

    Look at the clasp again with a magnifier just to make sure there is no mark snuggled in there. Mikimoto used a lot of different clasps, many of them sterling silver, so you need to research it some to see if your clasp is one of theirs. They also had several lines of pearls like Blue Lagoon and others. These are all Mikimoto's pearls, but they are worth less than the actual Mikimoto brand.

    With out a known miki clasp, and no certificate, you may just have a vintage cultured pearl necklace and a miki box, but they are still most likely worth more than $100.


    Can you put up some photos of the necklace, the box and the both sides of the clasp and let us look?
    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.

  5. #5

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    Here are some photos. It's my first time to post photos online -- so let me know what I can do better. Thanks for all the info so far. By the way, it was "The Antiques Roadshow."
    Attached Images Attached Images     

  6. #6

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    From the photos, is it possible that this is a freshwater strand in a Mikimoto box? I was thinking that might account for the low price given by the appraiser at the Roadshow. I enjoy wearing the pearls and it's ok with me if they aren't as monetarily valuable as I first thought. They were my husband's grandmothers and that makes them special to me.

  7. #7
    Pearl Maven Senior Pearl-Guide.com Pearl Expert Caitlin's Avatar
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    Yes it is possible.

    The shape and color certainly look like freshwater, except that there weren't any cultured freshwaters back then, in 1949. If from 1949, they would have be natural freshwaters, probably quite old --and then they wouldn't/couldn't be Mikimotos.

    The estimate you got would be in keeping with retail for a freshwater baroque, but it would have to be a fairly recent replacement, not from 1949
    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

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    So things don't really add up. The piece of info that I believe is the most accurate is that they were purchased in 1949. Where do I go from here. Is there any way to determine what I really have?

  9. #9
    Pearl Maven Senior Pearl-Guide.com Pearl Expert Caitlin's Avatar
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    Research that clasp. The photo was too small to see anything. If that is a digital camera, put it on macro so it can take a closeup. Also put them in indirect light. It looks like your flash went off.

    If they are from 1949 and they are graduated, they may very well be Mikis, or one of their lessor brands, but if that isn't a Miki clasp, you'll never be able to prove what they are, unless you can ID the clasp.

    I think 1949 graduated cultured pearls would go for more than $100 fair market value if they are in good shape. In any case, enjoy wearing them!
    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
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    Smile While we're on the subject...

    I have a few more questions about Mikimoto, if that's OK.

    Is there any meaning behind the colors of the Mikimoto packaging? I bought my strand three years ago at a department store in Japan and my packaging is navy. But when I look on ebay I see a lot of red boxes.

    I also recently bought a pair of post earrings at a Mikimoto counter in Japan a few months ago and for the life of me I can't find the trademark. Any help? I'm sure both pieces are legit, as they came from authorized counters, but I feel like I might have difficulty proving it if I ever need to sell them. Thanks for your help!!

  11. #11

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    Don't worry, i bet that over 90% is Akoya. If the pearl is really from 1949.

    Chase back the history of pearl cultivation, FWP in that period should not have such quality. If you can provide me the size of pearls (can be approx. size, you can take other picture together with the necklaces and a coin to show us the size) and i can tell something much more close.

    Probably it is a baroque Akoya from Mikimoto, and I'm quite sure that its worth far much more than US$ 100, given that it is an Antique piece.
    Louie
    from Hong Kong