Inherited Mikimoto pearls? Info sought


New Member
Mar 17, 2024
I’ve recently inherited a boxed pearl necklace that was my mother’s. These were purchased in 1990 from an established jeweller and are boxed with paperwork. I’m not sure mom wore them more than a couple of times and knowing my parents, I don’t think they would have bought pre-owned- but I’ve been researching these (with a lot of reference to this site!) and I’m concerned that they might not be all that they seem… It’s the clasp that bothers me the most as it appears to have no makers mark and is of a design that I can’t find on any authenticated piece. Any and all info would be much appreciated. They certainly look and feel lovely!

That's not a Mikimoto clasp, no. It is a generic fish hook clasp. They do appear to be akoya pearls, though.

Can you take some photos against a neutral/white background? It is hard to evaluate pearls against a colored background.
No flash/in focus/with some close ups, especially of any flaws.
The OP and I have been private messaging and he took additional photos as follows:




Ok, that is very helpful and now I can tell you a lot about them.

First, not Mikimoto IMO. (Any pearls can be placed in any box.) Not only because of the clasp, but also the quality associated with any of the grades of Mikimoto pearls is just not there. I could be wrong, but I've never seen Miki pearls that look like that. But they are definitely akoya pearls. There are surface characteristics that I would expect to see in a medium-to lower-medium quality strand. Wrinkles and other little blemishes.

I can also see that it was worn a LOT -- clearly it was much-loved!-- and that there is a lot of surface grime such as accumulates over years of wear. I suspect it will clean up to look much nicer, with better luster. Grime obscures luster and it could even be that some of what look like blemishes is just grime.

It absolutely needs to be cleaned and restrung before being worn. Silk that is old and grimy is weakened and could break, causing the necklace -- or at least one pearl-- to be lost.

Giving it a bath is easy and I urge you to do that before deciding how to proceed. Even if you plan to sell it, it will show better if clean.

To wash it, I recommend distilled water. This is to avoid impossible-to-remove soap scum from forming on the pearls when water with minerals combines with soap. It also avoids chlorine.

Fill two bowls with the bottled water, one to wash and one to rinse. Swish a bit of mild soap in one of the bowls. (No dishwashing liquid; that is too harsh. Also avoid soap containing moisturizers as that may leave grease on the pearls. I use Dr. Bronner's liquid baby soap-- it's unscented-- but you can use whatever.) Let the pearls soak in the water for 15 minutes or so, then use a soft cloth to wipe the grime off. A swab or a very soft small brush can be used for the hard to reach spaces between the pearls; grime especially accumulates near the drill holes.

Then rinse them in the other bowl of water, and lay the pearls on a soft clean towel to dry for 24 hours, just to be sure it's dry. The silk inside the drill holes takes longer to dry. Wet silk is weak silk, so it's best to be sure it's dry before handling it much.

If you are still up for evaluating them further, take more photos like these last ones and let's see how much they improved! :)

Now-- assuming you may be thinking of selling them-- I am going to just lay it on the line. Used pearls don't retain their value, unless they are historically important or a prestigious brand name (Mikimoto, Tiffany etc.)
To see what you might possible be able to get for them, do a search on eBay for a SOLD necklace similar to yours. Asking price is irrelevant; it's the sold price you need to see.

If you plan to sell them, don't pay to have them restrung. That would just eat up any profit, and you may even lose money on the deal, as stringing rates are often $3 per inch or even more. Many of us on this forum restring our own pearls (I wrote a tutorial-- see it's not hard. If you plan to keep them, then by all means try your hand at stringing! Thread is cheap and the new synthetic threads I recommend are much easier to use than silk. No tools needed. Everything you need to know is in the tutorial.

If you don't want to keep them, and don't want to bother to restring them yourself, then I would recommend just listing them-- after their bath, so they look clean. The buyer can deal with restringing them. Price them accordingly and they may sell.
Last edited: