Mikimoto early 1900s


Mar 15, 2022
I inherited pearls from my grandmother 17 years ago. Story goes they came over from Ireland with my great grand mother. She arrived in 1910. My grandmother thinks they may have belonged to her grandmother first. I was told they were over 100 years old and that was in 2005, shortly before my grandmother passed away. I'll post photos including the note my grandmother left in the box. The clasp says silver on the back, but no other logo or marking. The box is etch 'Mikimoto Pearls' on the top. Was there a big market to counterfeit Mikimoto during the early 1900's? I've google the crap out these and haven't been able to find a box like this or a clasp. I looked these up once before a decade ago and did see a box and pearls on eBay that looked the same as these. They don't have a Mikimoto stamp, are they real?

Any input would be great.



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Hello there BrightPink. Interesting story as always...heirlooms are something special.
Never before have I seen a Mikimoto box like that one, but it doesn't mean it cannot exist or was never used. I find the box odd, since it's not made for a necklace.Like it was just used for convenience sake.
The pearls -at least the larger ones- look like Akoya pearls to me, some seem to be flaking, but the smaller ones -nearer to the clasp- seem somewhat flattened where the drill hole is, like small barrels...and I find these odd.
It could be a combination of imitation pearls and cultured pearls???
Do you have a UV lamp with you?

If you could provide a few more photos of the pearls near the drill hole it would be helpful. Something like this:
Pearl Necklace Drill Hole and Knot (2).jpg
I think the box may have been reused. Mikimoto was not selling round pearls in 1900. At that time they were only able to produce 1/2 round pearls which were set in brooches. They were not able to commercially produce round pearls for necklaces until the 1920's or 30s. The clasp does not have the Mikimoto logo, either.

The pearls have definitely been well worn. Some of them are barrel shaped, where the nacre has been worn down to the shell nucleus. They're definitely real pearls. They're old. I doubt they are from 1900, as they would have been natural pearls back then. But I could be wrong.
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Thank you for your great insight BWeaves !
Thank you all for the information. I do not have a UV light. I do not have a camera that can take a clear photo up close enough to see the drill hole. Sorry. What did the logo look like in 1899? The same as in the 1920s?

I'm not sure about the logo back then. I believe it was either Mikimoto or just a plain "M" on jewelry pieces. Then it evolved into a logo, but I haven't really kept up with the history of the Mikimoto logo. It would be interesting to find this information and have it here.
According to James Free's website:
Mikimoto pieces can be identified by the trademark outline of an oyster, a distinctive engraving of the Mikimoto name, or the signature “M” logo charm.

But it does not cover the over 100 years of history of the brand nor offers visual examples.

I found what appears to be a very old jewelry marking:

The going into the more easily recognized "Oyster" logo:

Or even just the whole Mikimoto last name:

Hope this helps a bit!