Mikimoto Grade Comparison -- Take a guess!

Mikimoto Grade Comparison -- Take a guess!

  • Strand "1" [leftmost strand]

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • Strand "2"

    Votes: 7 35.0%
  • Strand "3"

    Votes: 2 10.0%
  • Strand "4" [rightmost strand]

    Votes: 11 55.0%

  • Total voters
  • Poll closed .

Andrew M

Well-known member
Oct 18, 2018
Hi Pearl Guide friends. :)

I hope this special image that I have here will be of use to some folks here -- Here, in this photo originally from Mikimoto, I have 4 strands of 7.5mm-8mm Akoya pearls from Mikimoto, side-by-side in the four offered grades: A, A+, AA, AAA. Since I was genuinely inquiring to Mikimoto, I've blurred the tags so as to not reveal the grading or price.

Here's the catch though -- none of these grades are in order. ;)

I pride myself on having quite the sharp eye, but even I have a really, really tough time -- almost impossible -- differentiating between the grades in the original photo.

So, take a guess at the grades for each photo -- 1, 2, 3, & 4 -- and after some time I'll reveal the answer! Also, hope this sparks some really great discussion on pearl grading. Again, your options from lowest to highest grades are A, A+, AA, AAA

Tried to make the image as high quality as possible so people can zoom in a little bit and check things out.

But, without further ado, have at it! --


And here they are separately so you can see a little more closely:


- Andrew
Cool! Thanks for the reply -- and, actually, I think the fact that it is so difficult is testament to any pearls that aren't junk look pretty great.

I'll be sure to post all the good details when as many people as want to vote. :D

Just for grins, though -- the two that are the biggest difference -- since we are considering Mikimoto the A vs. the AAA are about $14,000 difference. And FWIW, I don't think I see that much difference in any of these photos.

(and just FYI I of course cropped out the clasps because that would be plainly obvious assistance!)
From best to worst (relatively speaking!)

4 and 2 look very close, and 1 and 3 look very close.

It's interesting how different the overtones are.
I added a poll, in case folks want to vote on which the AAA strand is - I think this is interesting because I've seen many accounts of folks in person saying that AAA Miki strands truly are unbelievable but here in this photo at least they do look all very similar to one another. Of course this is just one example of each but it is telling

I agree PD that it's curious how different the overtones are on all of these!
That's a fair point Kat! -- I have not ever been able to see all of these in person (hopefully this year if I make it out to Las Vegas!) but it is an interesting insight at least.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts and experience!
I could probably tell in person, if they were side by side. But I can't tell from the photos. Even Miki's lowest quality is great.
I think best to worst: 2, 4, 3, 1.

What a cool poll, thanks for starting this Andrew! Even though these are good resolution, this is tricky indeed.
I could probably tell in person, if they were side by side. But I can't tell from the photos. Even Miki's lowest quality is great.

Agreed. Very hard to tell minor differences in quality from a photo. The person who grades them does it in person, not with a photo. You can't even really see the overtone on these photos.
This was just something for fun, folks, not meant to be a scientifically perfect test. I am aware that a photo (and not one I took at that) is very very different from being able to examine them in person.
It probably depends on one's monitor, but I can see the overtones in the photos.

The thing is, many of us do buy pearls online and we do depend on photos in making our decisions, even though it is indisputable that it's best to examine pearls in person. :rolleyes:
This was just something for fun, folks, not meant to be a scientifically perfect test. I am aware that a photo (and not one I took at that) is very very different from being able to examine them in person.

I definitely was thinking that if YOU had taken the photos we all could have aced this exam, er fun test!
Yeah, my monitor stinks. I was thinking that as well, that we all really depend on good photos and that is why I always ask for additional photos and am grateful for the return policies!
4- AAA round, uniformly very sharp luster, but seems very static. Probably a nicer word for static would be Serene.

2 & 1 can duke it out for AA:
-2 has very uniform color, seems uniformly round but a number of disturbing departures in luster between pearls, and a sense of opacity.
-1 has uniform luster, good color match but a bit of eccentricity in the shapes. Still, it makes up for the off-roundness by a sense of liveliness. A large number of the pearls seem to have a sense of transparency and energy, like you're looking at them through a running brook of very clear water.

3 goes to A, it seems off round and sleepy in luster. The intensity of the color seems jumpy between pearls.

jmho, very humble. Probably irw, 1 and 3 would duke it out for A. I did notice a number of the pearls in 1 were a bit darker re the white. But just a skosh.
Maybe 1 and 2 would fight for A+, idk, but I like 1 better for AA and I don't think most people would agree with me.
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Difficult and interesting! Certainly curious, and having bought pearls based on photos, realize how challenging the decision is.

Am unable to see any blemishes, which usually figure into my evaluation of a strand.

Thank you, Andrew!

Having seen many Miki strands working for Nordstrom Fine Jewelry 20+ years ago is of no help at all today!
Andrew: I know this is for fun. But I've seen all the Miki qualities in person, and it doesn't matter how good the photos are, my monitor is not going to give me enough range to tell the difference between top of the line pearls, so I can't even begin to guess.
Interesting point on the monitors. My high end color corrected monitor for photography clearly shows the different overtones even if the luster is difficult to differentiate.

Something I've always thought interesting is how silver Mikimoto strands seem to appear in photos. For those who have seen them in person, is this the case at all? What makes them tend to look this way?

And thanks for all the excellent contributions :)
I have 2 pairs of Miki earrings. The pair set in yellow gold is pinked. The pair set in white gold looks silver. I think Mikis are pinked, but it's subtle. It's just the right amount of pink to be flattering, but not so much that it's really obvious (like with my baroque akoyas).
Yes, Japanese pearls are most always pinked. It is a very desirable color in Asia.
Not easy to assess the grading of these pearls. In person, you could roll them to determine any blinking or off round features. I wouldn't begin to give any credible determination. It does point out how much photos need to be as clear as possible to sell pearls online.