Mikimoto is synonymous with time-honored luxury. Konichi Mikimoto cultured the world’s first perfect pearl in Japan on July 11, 1893, and his brand remains timeless and classic.
Mikimoto’s designs have graced some of the most beautiful women in history, including Grace Kelly and Elizabeth Taylor. Marilyn Monroe, on her Japanese honeymoon with Joe DiMaggio in 1954, even picked up a Mikimoto strand.
Now, as the brand prepares for its 120th anniversary, its new Regalia Mikimoto collection offers world-class luxury to another generation.
Pearls represent just 2 to 3 percent of the overall jewelry market, yet Meyer Hoffman, Mikimoto’s COO, is convinced of the brand’s viability. Hoffman has ensured that this brand fills a particular niche, tailoring marketing and design strategies by region.
As a result, he says business has grown by double-digits for the past two years, and that he expects this growth to continue post-recession, since the brand is going after an even more affluent audience. He believes he has a success on his hands with the new Regalia Mikimoto collection.
Some pieces include cultured pearl, diamond and 18-karat white gold earrings ($45,000), a ring with a 16-mm. cultured pearl encased within white gold and diamonds ($65,000), and a necklace featuring a 16-by-21-mm. white South Sea baroque cultured pearl in the center, Akoya cultured pearls, and more than 15 carats of diamonds set in white gold ($320,000).
Hoffman notes the company only sells the top 3 to 5 percent of pearls in the world. Mikimoto uses a grading system that is almost thirty years old to characterize their pearls, ranking them as AAA, AA, A or A+.
“The designers went back into the archives to look at pieces previously worn by royalty around the world,” Hoffman said, “In a way, this collection is our first big foray into a special opportunity to reach the market outside of Japan.”
Mikimoto is eager to expand their presence in the two most popular frontiers today: China and the Internet, in particular, mobile. There are currently eight stores in Hong Kong and Mainland China, and Mikimoto would like to double that number by 2017.
Digital ad spending for the brand has quadrupled over the past three years, and a mobile site has been launched. Mikimoto is now working to perfect the way it displays on the iPad. Mikimoto reports that 30 percent of visits to the brand’s website come from mobile or tablet devices, and 30 to 40 percent of those visits originate on iPads.
The sorting of Mikimoto pearls, as well as production, takes place entirely in Japan, which accounts for half of the brand’s overall business. North and South America make up 30 percent, and Asia, Europe, and the Middle East account for the last 20 percent.
photo credit: mikimoto