Mikimoto Kōkichi was a Japanese entrepreneur who is credited with creating the first cultured pearl and subsequently starting the cultured pearl industry with the establishment of his luxury pearl company Mikimoto. Kokichi's company was awarded patents for pearl cultivation and in 1985 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the patent system he was selected as one of Japan's top 10 inventors. The company was ranked as one of the world's most luxurious brands by Women's Wear Daily Magazine and Mikimoto was considered one of the best Japanese financial leaders of the 20th century by Nihon Keizai Shimbun. Mikimoto Pearl Island is named after him.
He is also known as the founder of Mikimoto Pharmaceuticals, a company specializing in beauty products containing pearl calcium. In 1899, the first Mikimoto pearl shop opened in the fashionable Ginza district of Tokyo selling natural seed pearls and half round pearls. The Mikimoto business expanded internationally, opening stores in London (1913).
After World War II, Mikimoto opened stores in Paris, New York City, Chicago, Boston, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Shanghai, and Bombay, and was thus one of the first Japanese brands to attain an international presence and recognition. Mikimoto took advantage of every opportunity to personally promote his pearls and took part in the 1926 Philadelphia World Exposition in which he displayed a replica of the "Liberty Bell" covered with pearls.
Mikimoto was the official jeweler of the Miss USA (2003–2008), Miss Universe (2002–2007 and 2017–present) and Miss Teen USA (2002–2008) pageants, under the Miss Universe Organization. The "Phoenix Mikimoto Crown" used by Miss Universe winners as well as the pageant crown used by Miss International is credited to his patented work.
In 2010/2011, the company's estimated total sales were €300 million. In June 2013, the company was chosen to design and procure five jewels consisting of a brooch, necklace, earrings, bracelet and the state diadem of Princess Kako of Akishino for her 20th birthday anniversary, valued at ¥30 Million JPY (US$279,000). The illustrious tiara features both floral motif and national symbols of Japan.