Are Mikimotos Reserve Collection Akoyas that much better than competitors' offerings?


Nov 24, 2021
Hello All! This is my first post. I'm a personal assistant to a dude that's pretty well off. I am helping him with buying his girlfriend's Christmas presents. One of the items he wants to get her is a pearl strand. Your basic 18" everyday strand because she doesn't have one and she's mentioned before that she's always wanted one. Knowing him, he'll want the best quality that he can buy so I've been doing some research. She's quite petite, 5'0" and can't be more than 100 lbs. So I'm thinking Akoyas no larger than 8.5mm. Anyways, while researching, I read a few tidbits about the Hanadama designation. I perused pearl paradise and other online vendors' websites for info on hanadama and to see their offerings. I also called a couple Mikimoto boutiques and found out they don't use the term Hanadama but assured me their AAA akoyas in their Reserve Collection are the best akoya pearls that can be found anywhere.

I got some prices and pictures from the boutiques in NYC and Vegas and the price difference between Mikimoto and another popular pearl jeweler, Assael is staggering. Even more so is the difference between Mikimoto and online vendors' hanadama strands. Pearl Paradise's 18" 8-8.5mm Natural White Hanadama w/14K gold clasp is $3,396. Assael's 18" 8-8.5mm Akoyas (not sure of grade) w/18K gold clasp is $7,250. Mikimoto's 18" 8-8.5mm AAA "Reserve Collection" w/platinum and diamonds clasp is $34,090! I know a platinum and diamond clasp will increase the price but I was shocked at the difference. I forwarded him the price info and pictures from Mikimoto and he said he'd make an appointment after he gets back from thanksgiving next week. But my little bit of research has piqued his interest in pearl quality so he had me order a hanadama necklace from pearl paradise. It should arrive friday. He's thinking about possibly bringing the PP necklace with him to his appointment to see the difference. (is that tacky?) I wish I could go with! I wanna touch $34K pearls! lol

Anyways, TL:DR Are Mikimoto's Reserve Collection akoyas that much more superior to their competitors' best akoyas?
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Hello hanadrama and welcome to our Pearl forum! your username!

In my personal opinion, regarding Akoya pearls from Japan, Hanadama are the best and equal to Mikimoto's Reserve Collection. I mean, just using your normal Human senses (especially eyesight) I could not see much difference between the two. I have actually done "funny things" at Mikimoto stores (maybe tacky?) and they don't like it when I ask them to do things differently (I guess they have a script and they follow it) but if that means getting a better price (you may be able to spend more, but just paying more does not necessarily mean you get more) I would definitively get the best price.

My 2 cents!
CortezPearls Thank you!

A rep at Assael actually just got back to me super early this morning. The retailers that carry Assael (like Neiman Marcus) only carry their AA+ pearls. To see their AAA pearls you have to go their office/showroom. She said their AAA is about HALF the cost of Mikimoto's AAA. It will be interesting to see what my boss decides to do.
I’m not going to touch comparing quality, since it sounds like you are already ordering some strands and you will be able to see with your own eyes and judge for yourself any differences that appeal to you or not for the price. I’m thinking about some other variables that may or may not have some relevance. Is she a name brand sort of person? Does she wear designer clothes, shoes, and carry name brand bags? If so, and the budget is unlimited, then a classic Mikimoto strand is probably the strand of her dreams. If she is one who appreciates a good deal, and name brands are not important, then she would be able to appreciate the value of a non-Mikimoto strand. Also, you mentioned how petite she is... others will disagree with me because they like big pearls, but she could easily wear a strand of smaller mm, which would bring the price down. If he is making an appointment at a boutique, I would suggest looking at all the options- 7-7.5mm, 7.5-8mm, besides the 8-8.5mm you are thinking of. The color and luster can be more intense in the smaller mm. Or maybe she would enjoy going with him to choose her dream strand?
Excellent points Jeg!
Hi Hanadrama!

What a dream to be shopping pearls without any budgetary restrictions! I advise you to go over to PriceScope Pearl forum, their member yssie has been doing a fascinating pearl “research” looking for the “best of the best” posting lots of comparison material that is absolutely interesting even though white akoyas are not even my thing....she certainly answers some questions you made here...
Miki's AAA are over the top gorgeous, and expensive. You're paying for name recognition on top of quality. Even the AA Miki's are better quality than a lot of pearls out there. I bought Hanadama's from Pearl Paradise and I'm totally in love with them. 8 mm 36 inch strand for $4600 plus $400 for a while gold clasp disco ball clasp with cubic zirconia instead of diamonds. They actually sparkle better than the diamond clasps I've seen in the same style.

I agree with JEG. If she's petite, she may look better in 7.5 pearls, and since 8 mm is the price break where they start to get expensive, that might make a difference.

She should really try them on herself to find out what she likes. Mikimoto doesn't take returns if you buy in person, while online vendors do take returns. Since every pearl strand is different, it's much better to see them in person and then decide.
I would think that he should consider white south sea pearls as well. I treasure mine and haven't worn another white pearl strand since I got it (lots of other colors though). South sea strand don't have to have huge pearls, they can be found at around 8mm, maybe even slightly under.
Let me drop 'natural white' in the pot. Most Akoya pearls are dyed very lightly pink. But some are naturally white. I haven't seen the Hanadama natural white myself but I've heard them described as little light bulbs.
My Hanadamas from Pearl Paradise are natural whites. Light bulbs is right. When I wear my natural white Hanadama rope with other pearls (Freshadamas), everyone assumes the Hanadams are fake because they look so much better than the Freshadamas, which are no slouches. The Hanadamas are incredibly shiny and have amazing orient. Lots of natural pink and green overtones.
Freshadamas are beautiful...yet -as you clearly state BWeaves - the Hanadama are simply superior. They outshine anything I've seen.
Comparing strands in person is the best way to go - photographs can be misleading. It also gives you the opportunity to ask questions. Like all grades of pearls...there are rungs on the ladder. The slight differences can add up to big bucks and once you are up in the 'rare air' all the strands will be beautiful.
jeg made an excellent point ... some folks need a brand name ... that might be the deciding vote.
The Mikimoto reserve collection that I've seen have been light light bulbs with their luster and orient. They are really that special. They are indeed spectacular!