What an interesting conversation I had with a Pearl Girl on the Gulf Coast this morning. She called to talk about her Mikimoto Mothball. What the heck is a Mikimoto Mothball? Good question! And I, unfortunately, do not have a good answer for you. But let me untangle the Mikimoto Mothball story for you and you can decide what this mothball is all about.
First, some background info. Mikimoto is the oldest name in cultured pearls. I have lots of respect for Mikimoto as the man, the visionary, the entrepreneur. Because of Mikimoto we have the beautiful things called cultured pearls. He is the father of the modern cultured pearl industry. His name is synonymous with extremely expensive, high quality pearls. If you are a labels type of person, you will want to name drop that you own Mikimoto pearls, for sure! So, expect the best from Mikimoto. Which is why the tale of the Mikimoto mothball is so darn weird!
Here we go… This woman (we will call her Sally) has invested alot of money in her Mikimoto pearls. She has earrings, bracelets and necklaces. This amounts to an extremely large sum of money. She is serious about her pearls and wears them daily (you can see how much I like my new friend Sally 😉 Anyway, Sally says, “An everyday Pearl Girl needs her pearls restrung.” Again, a sentiment I wholeheartedly support! She wears her pearls often so she cares for them by having them routinely restrung and cleaned by an certified Mikimoto dealer on the Gulf Coast. Well, four years ago she had her strand cleaned and restrung and it was returned to her with one mothball-looking pearl. Gasp! She says it looks horrible. Like a little chalky pearl with no luster. All of a sudden, out of the blue, one and only one of the pearls on the strand look bad. The jeweler reknotted that pearl onto the back on the strand so “no one would see it.” Well, this was really quite alarming for my friend Sally.
So, she did what any wonderful woman who cares about her pearls would do, she talked to the jeweler about it. His response was (and I quote), “Looks like you lost the luster on that one!” He went on to say, “Sweetie Pie, don’t worry about it. You don’t want to spend the money to see what is wrong.” So, she sat with it for a while wondering, “Did the jeweler put a bogus pearl on her pearl strand?” “Did he damage her pearls and refuse to tell her?” or “Did the pearl go bad?” Some friends suggested that the pearl was from a sick oyster and was bad from the beginning. But, if that is true, then that means that Mikimoto is not using top quality pearl for their necklaces. She went on to ask “Is this a rare occurance or does this happen with Mikimoto pearls?” What is the answer to this great Mikimoto mothball mystery? Did the pearl go bad? Was the pearl bad from the beginning or was she duped or deceived by her sweetie-pie jeweler?
Well, after being assured by her friends that her necklace longer looked like a Mikimoto strand of pearls with its one mothball pearl, she decided to go straight to the top to ask Mikimoto, the company, what happened to her pearl. She contacted the Mikimoto representative for the Gulf Coast region of the U.S. And she contacted her again. And again. And she never got a response. She contacted the corporate headquarters for Mikimoto and she was told she needed to deal with someone locally. She sent her strand back to Mikimoto U.S.A. and was quoted $200 to replace that one pearl in her strand. But no one will tell her why the pearl is bad, what went wrong and no one is going out of their way wanting to fix it for her. She figures if her strand is really worth $200 per pearl, with 45 pearls on her strand, the necklace is work $11,000. And yet she cannot find anyone to help her or back her up. Poor Sally is not getting any love or any help!
So, what happened to her Mikimoto strand that is now 8 years old. How did one pearl (just one) go bad after four years? How did this happen to her, a devoted Pearl Girl who regularly cares for her pearls and has them reknotted regularly too. She wears her pearls a lot, yes, but she takes care of them too.
Well, please chime in and let me know your theories. Sally (again, I changed her name) is dumbfounded and getting pretty darn upset over this and I can’t blame her. She is coming to see me in a few weeks so I can at least let her know if this mothball pearl is real or not! After that, he wants to reach out to the Mikimoto headquarters in Japan. Again, I am not a gal who typically makes waves but it is pretty darn depressing that her pearls seem to be “going bad” and no one can explain why.
I will let you know when I have more. If you have ever heard of this happening, please let us know! Sally has given me permission to write this on her behalf.
I am a modern day treasure hunter who travels the world for gorgeous pearls and amazing adventures. I own a pearl jewelry and jewelry repair business, ThePearlGirls.com, with a cute retail store in Athens, GA. I also have a Pearl Travel business and travel blog at TheWorldofPearl.com.