COO, Mikimoto America
There is more to pearls than meets the eye. They are the only gem produced by a living organism. The oldest and simplest gems, pearls are like haiku: they offer infinite creative possibilities within simple parameters.
Pearls have been the favorite adornment of queens and czarinas, movie stars and socialites, yet they are the least ostentatious of all jewels.
“Pearls,” suggests Meyer Hoffman, the COO of Mikimoto America, “are the anti-bling.” The observation is not entirely sardonic. In the current economy, the concept of luxury is being redefined, if not challenged outright. Mikimoto, the world’s pre-eminent pearl company, benefits from the global retreat from garishness. Customers have gained a new appreciation for the simple, timeless elegance of fine pearls. Says Hoffman, “You’re wearing it just for yourself, not to impress an audience.”
Mikimoto is uniquely positioned to offer its clients an alternative to grandstanding jewelry and, since Hoffman took the helm of its North American and Russian operations in 2003, the company has enjoyed impressive growth and visibility, here and around the world.
An experienced veteran of the luxury goods industry, Hoffman explains that one of the challenges of running a company with a history like Mikimoto involves balancing the traditional with the avant-garde.
After all, Mikimoto’s name, image and company are entwined with Japanese culture. Founded over 100 years ago by Kokichi Mikimoto, the first person to
perfect and patent the process for culturing the radiant Akoya pearls connoisseurs crave, Mikimoto is one of the most famous and most revered names in Japanese commerce, and Kokichi Mikimoto, a brilliant inventor, industrialist and marketing genius, is as towering a figure in Japanese business history as Henry Ford or Thomas Edison is in America.
While still producing its timeless designs, Mikimoto recently hired designer Giovanna Broggian to add a fresh infusion of Italian vivacity and dolce vita to the revered Japanese company. With her “Milano” collection, Giovanna Broggian has added sculptural metalwork in contemporary, satin-finished gold to the Mikimoto design mix, introduced diamonds and colored stones as accents to some designs, and combined huge, South Sea pearls with ultra-modern elements.
With an eye toward attracting a younger, more casual customer, Mikimoto introduced “Pearls in Motion,” a simple, lariat-styled necklace with pearls set at moveable intervals along a gold chain. “It’s a patented mechanism,” Hoffman explains. “You can wear the necklace in a variety of different ways, grouping the pearls according to your personal taste.”
Photos Courtesy of Mikimoto America Co., Ltd.