Kokichi Mikimoto was born on January 25, 1858 in the town of Toba on Japan's Shima Peninsula. Dedicated to protecting and propagating stocks of native akoya oysters depleted by over-harvesting of natural pearls, Kokichi Mikimoto became fascinated with the possibility of producing cultured pearls. After severe financial hardships and innumerable setbacks including devastating red algae blooms, Kokichi Mikimoto became the first in the world to successfully culture a semi-spherical pearl on July 11, 1893. The site of his success was the island of Ojima near Toba, now known as Mikimoto Pearl Island.
Japan's first pearl specialty boutique, the Mikimoto Pearl Store was opened in Tokyo's Ginza shopping district in 1899, laying the groundwork for the modern jewelry industry in Japan. Turning his attention overseas at an early stage, Kokichi Mikimoto exhibited at the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago, and subsequently showed his pearls at numerous international fairs and expos. In 1913, the first overseas Mikimoto Pearl Store opened in London, soon to be followed by Mikimoto locations in New York, Paris, and other major cities. Synonymous with cultured pearls, the Mikimoto name also became a symbol of Japanese culture around the world.
Aiming to develop original jewelry designs and production techniques combining traditional Japanese craftsmanship and European finesse, Kokichi Mikimoto dispatched colleagues on fact-finding missions to Europe. In 1907, he established the Mikimoto Gold Work Factory, Japan's first factory dedicated to the design and manufacture of jewelry. Aiming to create one-of-a-kind items of impeccable quality, every step of the process, from procurement through design, manufacturing and sales, was systematically integrated - an approach that remains important to Mikimoto today. In recognition of this superior quality and technology, Mikimoto was named a purveyor to the Imperial Household Agency in 1924, earning the honor of official jeweler of the Imperial Family.
In 1972, the company name was changed to K. Mikimoto & Co., Ltd. Expanding to include diamonds and other precious stones, Mikimoto became known as a comprehensive jeweler with an extensive line of quality items. In addition to the Tokyo Main Store with its prestigious Ginza address, Mikimoto stores were opened not only throughout Japan but also on Fifth Avenue in New York, Place Vendome in Paris, and New Bond Street in London, cementing the Mikimoto reputation as one of the world's leading fine jewelers.