Tiffany pearls or Mikimoto?
Mikimoto pearls or Tiffany?
Should you go for that Little Blue Box or the legendary original pearl brand … decisions, decisions! Both companies are luxury brands with fabled histories, incredible craftsmanship and of course: absolutely gorgeous cultured pearls. So how do you choose which brand to buy? Have no fear! Ashley McNamara, a pearl specialist with over 15 years of experience evaluating and grading pearls, is here to help with a head to head comparison.
Before diving too deeply into the topic, I’d like to add in one more comparison point: pearls from PurePearls.com. We are an online pearl specialty boutique, offering Japanese Akoya, colorful Tahitian, White and Golden South Sea pearls and fine cultured Freshwater pearls from China. For 20 years we’ve been purchasing pearls directly from pearl farmers all over the world, sourcing only the finest pearls to bring them back to our customers, saving you hundreds to thousands of dollars with each purchase.
Pure may not be a world-famous pearl jewelry brand, but you know what we do have? Absolutely gorgeous pearls. You know what we don’t have? Those infamous luxury brand retail mark-ups. For the discerning pearl lover, Pure Pearls offers beautiful, high luster pearls with exceptional value for your hard-earned money.
Tiffany is easily one of the top 2 choices when it comes to buying luxury pearl jewelry. That iconic Blue Box, the meticulous craftsmanship and exclusive design collections not found anywhere else, all combine to make for a delicious purchasing experience (especially if you get dressed up and go into the store!).
Tiffany sells all pearl types, from fine Freshwater pearls to Japanese Akoya, glamorous Tahitian and South Sea pearls.
Fine Drop-Shaped Tahitian pearl and diamond earrings by Elsa Peretti, one of Tiffany’s most well-known designers. Earrings retail for $7,800.00, which seems like a rather shocking premium for a designer name.
However, the vast majority of Tiffany’s collections consist of saltwater Akoya pearls and Chinese Freshwater. Here’s where things get a little less … couture. Most of these offerings tend towards the “classics”, like the single Pearl Necklace, Pearl Stud Earrings, Bracelets and the like. You can typically find these items in the Tiffany Signature Pearls and Tiffany Essentials Collections.
This Elsa Peretti Freshwater Pearl Bracelet features smooth Drop-Shaped and Oval pearls measuring 5.0-5.5mm in size. The multi-strand bracelet is finished with a sleek Sterling Silver toggle clasp and retails for $1,250.00 … The Freshwater Drops on their own are worth approximately $20.00
For example, this 16-Inch Japanese Akoya Pearl Necklace measuring 7.0-7.5mm in size, part of the “Essentials” Collection, is one of their most popular selling pearl necklaces. Each “Essentials” Collection item consists of saltwater Akoya pearls exclusively, finished with an 18K Gold Lobster Clasp and engraved oval charm.
This lovely Akoya Pearl Necklace retails at Tiffany for approximately $2,500.00
By contrast, the classic White Japanese Akoya Pearl Necklace at PurePearls.com in the same size starts at around $1,000.00. Akoya pearls from Pure Pearls are sourced from the top 10% of each pearl harvest, and are selected for their perfectly round, perfectly matched shapes, bright, highly reflective luster and smooth, clean surfaces.
The AAA Quality 7.0-7.5mm Japanese Akoya Pearl Necklaces are finished with 14K Gold Clasps and retails starting at $1,149.00 at PurePearls.com
While our pearls won’t arrive in the famous Tiffany Blue Box, and there won’t be an engraved charm (but come to think of it, thatis a nice idea! Hmmmm …) on the necklace, but I think the value and savings here is immediately obvious for shoppers looking for high quality pearls.
Another head-to-head comparison would be for Akoya Pearl Stud Earrings. Akoya pearls are famous for their perfectly round shapes, perfect matching, clean surface quality and high to very high rates of luster … so this should be easy-peasy.
Akoya Pearl Earrings are featured in both the Tiffany Signature Pearls and Essentials Collections. The Signature Collection pearl earrings in the 7.0-7.5mm size (the most popular pearl earring size) retails for$600.00.
The earrings are mounted on solid 18K Gold stud mounting posts and backs, and are of course, high quality.
Compare with Pure Pearls' classic Akoya Pearl Stud Earrings, 7.0-7.5mm in AAA Quality:
These AAA Quality Akoya Pearl Stud Earrings also measure 7.0-7.5mm and are mounted on 14K Gold but retail for just $250.00 -a much lower price for the same quality pearls.
So how do you know that I’m comparing apples to apples?
I’ll be perfectly honest and say that Tiffany sells luxury quality pearls. Definitely AAA Quality, cream of the crop tier pearls. If you don’t know very much about pearl grading, then I’d recommend reading our Expert’s Guide to Akoya Pearl Grading – this article is jam-packed with real-life pictures and grading descriptions, so you know exactly what to look for at each grading benchmark, BEFORE you buy anything.
Even our popular Hanadama Akoya Pearl Collection, featuring our highest quality, certified Japanese Akoya pearls in that size clock in at $200.00
If you have any doubts about ordering pearls to match Tiffany quality, then I'd highly recommend sticking with the Hanadama Akoya pearls.
These pearl earrings come with a gem certification from the Pearl Science Laboratory of Tokyo, Japan. Hanadama Akoya pearls are sourced from the top 1% of each yearly Akoya pearl harvest.
Classic Hanadama Akoya Pearl Necklaces also start at just $1,500.00, so you are saving nearly $1,000.00 at aminimum by shopping with PurePearls.com over Tiffany - even when you opt for our highest quality Certified Hanadama Akoya pearls.
I’m not going to pull any punches here … Mikimoto Pearl Company offers some of the absolute BEST pearls in the world. Since its inception in 1901, Mikimoto has by turns astonished and dazzled the world, and shows no signs of stopping.
Mikimoto Pearl Company is THE most iconic pearl jewelry company in the world. The name is synonymous with the Japanese Akoya pearl type, but that is not all they offer.
Founded in Japan by Kokichi Mikimoto, known as the Father of Cultured Pearls, Mikimoto Pearl Company has flagship retail locations in major cities around the world including Beverly Hills, Las Vegas, New York and Paris.
Mikimoto offers some of the most dazzling pearl creations in the world, and each year creates a High Jewellery Collection featuring some of the most glamorous, luxurious pearl confections ever seen, sparkling with diamonds and other precious gemstones.
This White South Sea, Japanese Akoya pearl and diamond Feather Brooch is a part of Mikimoto’s famous High Jewellery Collections offerings. One of my absolute favorites!
Mikimoto offers designs in every pearl type: cultured Akoya, Tahitians from French Polynesia, South Sea pearls and even exotic natural pearls like Conch and Melo-Melo, but they are primarily known for their first pearls ever offered, theJapanese Akoya.
So what can you expect when you purchase pearls from Mikimoto?
Simply: Extremely high quality Akoya pearls!
Notice the extremely high luster, smooth, clean pearl surfaces, meticulous knot-work and solid 18K Gold Clasp. The craftsmanship for each Mikimoto pearl necklace is exquisite. "Good quality" doesn't come close to describing strands of this caliber.
Like Tiffany, Mikimoto charges a premium for their cultured pearl necklaces. Akoya pearls at Miki’s can range from just $300 for a pair of small 6.5-7.0mm Japanese Akoya pearl studs to as high as $500,000 or more depending on the pearls and the collections you are looking at.
For their lower quality (A+ Quality) pearl necklaces of cultured Japanese Akoya ranging from 5.0-8.5mm, budget anywhere from $3,000 up to $7,000 minimum (and of course, premium qualities are available upon request!). Even their lower pearl grades have luster levels guaranteed to blow most other vendors away.
Keep in mind that Mikimoto sources their cultured pearls from the top 5% of each annual pearl harvest and uses their own grading system. Mikimoto grades their pearls: A, A+, AA and AAA Quality, which is their highest/best pearl grade.
Their AAA Quality Akoya are so rare, and so expensive, that there are only one or two strands produced each year. These Akoya necklaces “travel” from flagship location to flagship location around the world - the only way to view or wear these spectacular pearls is upon special request when you visit Mikimoto in person.
If you were to look for pearls equivalent to Mikimoto pearls without spending tens of thousands of dollars on a luxury pearl necklace, there are alternatives (thank goodness!). The closest I’ve seen pearls get to their flagship AAA Grade are the PSL-Certified Hanadama Akoya Pearls.
An unretouched photo of Hanadama Akoya pearls from PurePearls.com. Those are some beautiful pearls, right?
Hanadama pearls are widely acknowledged as having the highest luster, cleanest surfaces and pronounced Orient (rainbow iridescence) effects.
Pure’s Hanadama pearls are the cream of the crop when it comes to Japanese Akoya pearls. These pearls are sourced from the top 5% of each yearly pearl harvest.The pearls are x-rayed at the Pearl Science Laboratory in Tokyo to measure nacre depth and each strand or pair of pearl earrings is issued its own individually numbered gemological certificate.
As mentioned earlier Hanadama Pearl Necklaces start at around $1,500.00 and perfectly matched Pearl Earrings start at just $200.00 – these are practicallywholesale prices for the savvy pearl shopper!
You’ve heard me say it time and again, and I’m going to say it one more time: when it comes to pearl jewelry, IT DEPENDS.
I know you all are probably starting to hate me for saying that, but it’s true!
At the end of the day, the best value is where you find it. If the idea of visiting a Tiffany or Mikimoto flagship location and selecting a luxury brand strand of pearls thrills you to your toes, then go for it!
I can guarantee you’ll never regret the superb craftsmanship of the jewelry, the high quality of the jewelry and the experience of purchasing cultured pearls from the world’s most preeminent brands.
If you’re looking for a “Classic” Akoya Pearl Necklace, to be honest, I’d probably splurge and go for the Mikimoto brand. Mikimoto's pearls are quite simply some of the finest in the world: take good care of them, keep their provenance in order, and these beautiful pearls will last for generations and could even increase in value.
If you are after a Tiffany-specific design or aesthetic, then Tiffany it is. Tiffany is well-known for their unique, beautiful jewelry designs that you just won’t find anywhere else. As a world-renowned Jewelry House, the quality of their goldwork, their high grade pearls and meticulous pearl stringing is incredibly fine, and collectors everywhere know and cherish the brand.
To be perfectly honest though, I think most pearl lovers will find the best value shopping at an alternative pearl specialty boutique. If you find the right jeweler, you can have pearls that are the equivalent (or get realllyyyy close!) to Tiffany or even Mikimoto at practically a wholesale price, with personalized jewelry tailored to your exact specifications.
In many cases, the selection will be much larger, with more variety in pearl types, price ranges and design styles to choose from saving you hundreds to thousands of dollars ... not to mention the excellent customer service perks that come with shopping at a smaller, more intimate boutique.
When you shop at Pure, we can provide some of the highest quality luxury pearls at prices that are a fraction of the high-end name brands. From Certified Hanadama Akoya to gorgeous White and Golden South Sea and exotic Tahitian pearls, we have every pearl type available for you to choose from - all at exceptional price points.
We make all of our pearl jewelry by hand, to order, at our Los Angeles, California based workshop. All the pearls are tailored to your exact specifications to make sure when you order pearls from us, you get exactly what you’ve been dreaming of, at a price your wallet will thank you for.
Beyond our 90-Day Return and Exchange Guarantee, we provide a lifetime of excellent customer service and flat-rate pearl care and repair services to ensure your jewelry remains as beautiful as the day you bought it.
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