The Pearl King – Kokichi Mikimoto.
A noodle maker turned vegetable peddler, Kokichi Mikimoto (nicknamed The Pearl King today!) was still poverty stricken at the age of 33 when he saw pearls for the first time at a marine exhibition in Yokohama. Although he was not the first to produce the round cultured pearl , and did not originate the method he used; he is nevertheless considered to be the father of the pearl industry. He was persistent, patient and a determined business man. It was his devotion that led to the development of the cultured pearl and he was the driving force behind the industry.
The theory that Mikimoto developed was simple, but ingenious. He said that if oysters were to survive from extinction and produce pearls then they must be prevented from extinction. So, he thought why not cultivate and harvest them? Much the same way as a shepherd herds his flock or a farmer looks after his cows.
He planned to find as many oysters as he could, and then place them in warm, sheltered and safe waters in Japan. Then he would experiment as to how to encourage oysters to produce pearls.
It took Mikimoto a long time to convince the Japanese government that this was a wise and practical scheme. He persevered and finally managed to persuade the fishermen of Jinmyo Mura, a tiny place near Ago Bay to try his plan. It was in 1888 that the first Mikimoto pearl farm was established.
The first Oyster Crop Was Harvested
A year later, the first oyster crop was harvested. It yielded enough pearls that Mikimotos’ dream could continue. In the meantime, Mikimoto and several other leading Japanese scientists were concentrating on finding methods to discover the oyster’s secret. And to encourage the mollusc to produce pearls with the help of man. Within a few short years the element of chance had been eliminated in pearl production. And a whole new industry was born.
In the 1920s Mikimoto was given the nickname of the “Pearl King” . Have a look at the beauty of Mikimoto jewellery today.