Kokichi Mikimoto (1858 – 1954) was born in the port town of Toba on Japan’s Shima peninsula in 1858. Mikimoto was fascinated with the pearl farming that he saw in town as a child and as he got older he learned that these natural pearls were becoming scarcer. This is when he decided to research culturing pearls. Others in Australia and Japan had already proved it was possible however Mikimoto wanted to refine and perfect the technique. Then in 1893 Mikimoto’s wife pulled a basket of Akoya oysters for inspection and found a pearl inside. These were the first mabé pearls they created. It would take another twelve years for Mikimoto to successfully create spherical pearl. They based their business on Ojima Island and in 1896 Mikimoto applied for, and was granted, his first patent. A few years later in 1899 he opened his first boutique in Ginza, Tokyo. In 1910 he created a traditional Japanese fan and screen covered with his cultured pearls for the Anglo-Japanese Fair in London which created much attention to his work. At the 1926 World’s Fair Mikimoto exhibited a piece set with over 12,000 pearls as the show stopper and in 1939 at the New York World’s Fair he modeled the Liberty Bell, covered in Mikimoto pearls making a splash in the United States. By the 1920s he began to produce quantities of cultured pearls for commercial production. He opened other boutiques in London and Paris. He continued to learn and mastered the process of culturing South Sea pearls. At this point the world knew Mikimoto as pearls. Today the Bond Street London location and Place Vendôme Paris boutiques remain.