A Brief History:

Japan has historically been a staple area where natural pearls were marketed and shipped around the world. However, around the mid 1800s and later, Japan became heavily involved in foreign trade, making pearls more precious than ever before. Kokichi Mikimoto, the son of a noodle maker, and wife Ume set out to protect and rejevunite over harvested pearl oysters near Ise-Shima. They aimed to produce perfectly round pearls on demand in Japan, and in 1896 received a patent for producing hemispherical pearls, or mabes. In 1908, he also received a patent for culturing mantle tissue.


However, Mikimoto was unaware of the discoveries that government biologist Tokichi Nishikawa and carpenter Tatsuhei Mise had independently made. They both had also discovered the method of pearl culturing. In 1907, Mise received a patent for his grafting needle. Incidentally, when Nishikawa applied for a patent for nucleating, he realized that he and Mise had discovered the same thing and in a compromise signed an agreement uniting the process known as the Mise-Nishikawa method.

Because Mikimoto's patent coencided with the Mise-Nishikawa method, he altered his patent application to include a technique to make round pearls in mantle tissue and was granted the new patent in 1916. Since then, Mikimoto pearls have been known as some of the most prestigious cultured pearls in the world.