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Mikimoto or Tiffany Pearls: Which Brand to Choose

Mikimoto vs. Tiffany: Who Has the Better Pearls?

Mikimoto and Tiffany are both luxury brands that are renowned for their exquisitely crafted jewelry, unique design aesthetic, luminous pearls and premium prices. Mikimoto vs Tiffany, where should you buy your next piece of pearl jewelry?

This is a difficult decision and there are quite a few factors to consider. But we can help!

At Pearls of Joy, our experience and knowledge of pearls spans over two decades, and makes us ideally suited to help you decide which brand is more to your taste.

While we are on the subject, Pearls of Joy is another brand to consider. Pearls of Joy is a direct-to-consumer, online pearl jewelry brand offering the highest quality South Sea, Tahitian, Akoya and Freshwater pearls at very affordable price points.


Pearl Collections at Tiffany and Co.

Who hasn’t heard of Tiffany and Co., with their signature blue boxes and iconic fine jewelry? This is a legacy fine jewelry brand which boasts a fascinating history. In fact, Tiffany can be credited with introducing American natural Freshwater pearls onto the world jewelry stage with its fabulous, one-of-a-kind jewelry pieces during the late 1800s and early 1900s.

Tiffany is a brand with more than a hundred years of history behind it. It represents the finest jewelry this side of the Atlantic, and is arguably the luxury jewelry brand of America.


Tiffany and Company Blue Box with Pearl Necklace Engraved Clasp Close Up

Tiffany & Co is renowned the world over for their Blue Box.


Anyone looking for jewelry can find luxury quality pearls and pearl jewelry at Tiffany. The brand mainly relies on Akoya and Chinese Freshwater pearls for most of its pearl jewelry pieces.

Tiffany Signature Pearls and Essential Pearls collections feature stunning Akoya pearl jewelry set in 18K white gold. In addition, their Ziegfeld collection features white Freshwater pearls with sterling silver mountings.

The brand also offers a select range of pearl jewelry pieces from their designer collections, which feature dazzling golden and white South Sea pearls as well as gorgeous black South Sea pearls.


Mikimoto – The Original Cultured Pearls

The Mikimoto name is synonymous with beautiful, cultured pearls, and Mikimoto pearls are the gold standard in the jewelry industry. This is because Mikimoto sources its pearls from the top 5% of the season’s pearl harvests.

This legendary company traces its story to Kokichi Mikimoto, who was the first person to successfully culture pearls, in 1893. Before the advent of cultured pearls, there were only natural pearls. But fewer than one oyster in a thousand produces a natural pearl, and this rarity made them very expensive. Mikimoto’s efforts gave rise to the cultured pearl industry and made pearls accessible to many more people.


Mikimoto Pearl Necklaces on Beige Background

Mikimoto was the first brand to culture Akoya pearls


Mikimoto was a perfectionist, and for him the ideal cultured pearl was a round, perfectly spherical, lustrous orb. This pursuit of perfection can still be seen in all Mikimoto pearls.

Mikimoto does not offer any Freshwater pearls. Instead, their jewelry collections mainly feature saltwater cultured pearls — radiant Akoya, dark and mysterious Tahitian, satiny white South Sea and dazzling Golden South Sea pearls. In addition, very rare and exotic natural pearls, including the non-nacreous pink Conch and orange Melo Melo pearls, can be seen in some of their exclusive, high-end jewelry pieces.

Mikimoto never compromises on the quality of its pearls. Their pearl grading is based on a strict continuum going from A, A+, AA, to AAA, which is the highest grade (Mikimoto does not use the Hanadama designation for its Akoya pearls).

But the question still remains — which brand should you buy your pearl jewelry from? Today we will help you make this decision by closely comparing the pearl jewelry offered by Mikimoto, by Tiffany, and by us at Pearls of Joy.


Beautiful Pearls at Pearls of Joy

The Pearls of Joy story began 20 years ago in 2003, when Kevin Canning flew to Asia in search of the best quality pearls. His goal was to find the best quality pearls and source them directly from pearl farms.

Back then, the process of buying pearls was shrouded in mystery. Pearls as a gem were understood by very few, especially in the West. Top quality pearls were only available at luxury retail stores, and were offered at astronomical prices.


Akoya Pearl Necklaces on Flowered Background

Beautiful and Lustrous Akoya Pearls at Pearls of Joy


Kevin wanted to change all that. By sourcing pearls directly from pearl farms and offering them online — at prices that were 80% less than those offered at retail — Kevin helped many customers find their perfect pearls. In the process, Kevin also educated his customers about the seven factors which determine the value of pearls, so they could make informed decisions about their purchases.

Kevin believes in the ‘direct-to-consumer’ model where he buys top quality pearls directly from pearl farms and offers them to our customers at near-wholesale prices. By cutting out the middlemen, a lot of the markups from different sales channels are bypassed, and Pearls of Joy is able to pass those savings on to their clients.

The result is that exquisite pearls, which easily compare to those offered by luxury brands such as Mikimoto and Tiffany, are available to customers at a fraction of their luxury retail prices.

Because each and every pearl is personally selected by Kevin, you can be sure that you are getting the most lustrous, iridescent pearls available. It is no wonder, then, that pearl lovers everywhere have come to trust Pearls of Joy for incredible quality and amazing prices.


A Closer Look


To see the Pearls of Joy difference, let's do a direct comparison of one of Tiffany’s most popular pieces with one of our own.


Tiffany Pearl Earrings Pricing Example


One of the most popular pearl jewelry designs are 7.5 to 8.0 mm Akoya Cultured pearl stud earrings. Tiffany’s Signature Pearls Collection includes a pair of 7.5 to 8.0mm Akoya cultured pearl stud earrings priced at $800. By comparison, a pair of 7.5-8.0mm AAA grade Akoya pearl stud earrings at Pearls of Joy are available at $349. That’s less than half the price for the same quality of pearls, all because of our unique direct-to-consumer business model.


Akoya Pearl Earrings at Pearls of Joy


But that’s not all. At Pearls of Joy, you can find a pair of top range Hanadama 7.5-8.0 mm pearl earrings, accompanied with a numbered certificate from Pearl Science Lab of Japan (PSL) for only $529. PSL is the only organization in the world which certifies Akoya pearls as Hanadama. Based in Tokyo, this independent laboratory issues a Hanadama certificate for Akoya pearls that meet the highest levels of nacre thickness, luster and orient.


Hanadama Akoya Pearl Stud Earrings at Pearls of Joy


Hanadama is a special designation for the best-of-the-best white, round Akoya cultured pearls, and comprise the top 3% of the total Akoya pearl harvest of the season.

As compared to Tiffany, it is clear that our Akoya and Hanadama cultured pearl earrings are available at much better prices. This is because we source our pearls directly from pearl farms which makes their prices attractive and budget friendly. But there’s more.


Hanadama Akoya Pearl Necklace Close Up with PSL Certificate


While the Akoya pearls at Tiffany's are lovely, you will find that our Akoya and Hanadama pearl pairs have a perfect color and overtone match. Also, our Akoya pearls are available in the beautiful and much sought after “cherry blossom” white, while our Hanadama pearls, with their thick nacre and gorgeous orient, come in a gleaming white color.

But, luster, the most important factor upon which all assessments of pearl quality are based, is where the real difference between our pearls and those at Tiffany can be seen.

While the Tiffany Akoya pearls have a soft, silky luster, our AAA quality Akoya pearls have a sharp, bright luster that can easily be seen from a distance. This quality is doubly present in our radiant Hanadama pearls, which exhibit a striking, mirror-like luster in which reflections are clean and bright.


Shop our Hanadama Cultured Pearl Earrings

Akoya Pearl Stud Earrings Comparison Tiffany vs Pearls of Joy

Pearl Stud Earring Post Comparison.Top Left, Akoya Pearl Earrings, Pearls of Joy; Bottom Right, Tiffany Signature Akoya Pearl Stud Earrings


Looking a little more deeply, the Tiffany earring posts are very well-crafted. Made from 18K white gold, they have beautiful design details. By contrast, at Pearls of Joy, the earring posts are slightly less ornate.

While they may be simpler, at Pearls of Joy, you’ll get more options for your earring posts, with the ability to choose not only 18K gold but also 14K gold. What’s more, both options are available in yellow or white gold, making it easy for you to find the perfect pearl stud earrings for yourself.

All in all, our Pearls of Joy Akoya and Hanadama earrings are priced far below Akoya cultured pearl earrings of the same size and shape available at Tiffany’s. And you will find that our pearls are brighter and even more lustrous.


Shop Our Akoya Cultured Pearl Earrings and Find a Pair That is Just Perfect!

Freshwater Pearl Necklaces: Tiffany v. Pearls of Joy

Let’s compare some other pieces, head-to-head.

Tiffany’s Ziegfeld collection is a good choice for jewelry lovers who want to buy Freshwater pearl jewelry such as necklaces and bracelets.


Tiffany and Company Freshwater Pearl Necklace Zeigfeld Collection

Tiffany Ziegfeld Collection Freshwater Pearl Necklace


The pieces from this collection are sleek and attractive. Take the Ziegfeld 8.0 to 9.0mm Freshwater 18-inch-long pearl necklace, for instance. This is a graduated pearl necklace with white Freshwater pearls.

The Freshwater pearls are well-matched in color, although they are more off-round than symmetrically spherical. Additionally, these Freshwater pearls have a soft luster and good radiance.

The sterling silver necklace clasp is of the popular but ubiquitous lobster claw design, embellished with a small sterling silver decorative tag carrying a “Tiffany & Co.” inscription. In our final assessment, the Freshwater pearls used in Tiffany’s Ziegfeld necklaces are of good quality, and the clasp adds flair to the overall look of the necklace.


Gem Grade White Freshwater Pearl Necklace Bracelet and Earring Set

Gem Quality AAAA Grade Freshwater Pearl Necklace, Bracelet and Earring Set Pearls of Joy


At Pearls of Joy, we take pride in our wide selection of gem quality Freshwater pearls, which Kevin personally purchases from a select few farms in China. Our 18-inch, 8.0-9.0 mm white, round Freshwater pearl necklace from our bestsellers collection — very similar to the Ziegfeld model from Tiffany’s — features AAAA top-quality pearls that are of even higher quality than the ones in the little blue box.

At Pearls of Joy, a AAAA grade means the Freshwater pearls are round to near-round in shape, luminous white in color and have a deep, lustrous glow. We believe that our white Freshwater pearls, especially our AAAA pearls, are unmatched in their beauty, gorgeousness and appeal!

Moreover, our Freshwater pearl necklaces come with a choice of clasp styles, from sterling silver filigree to 14K and 18K, white and yellow gold ball clasps. Again, while our clasps may not have Tiffany’s style details, we offer more buying choices.

However, things get even more interesting when we bring prices into the mix. At Tiffany’s, you will pay $1,425 for an 18-inch 8.0 to 9.0 mm Ziegfeld Freshwater pearl necklace. A similar Freshwater pearl necklace from Pearls of Joy will only cost you $479.

There is no doubt that Tiffany sells lovely pearls. But part of what you’re paying for is that famous brand name. It comes down to personal preference: are you willing to pay more for lower quality gems with Tiffany's name, or is higher quality what you’re looking for?

Now the question is that if you are planning to buy a Freshwater pearl necklace, does it make sense to buy a pricier one with good luster and off-round pearls, or to choose a necklace with luminous white, round/near round Freshwater pearls that exhibit mouthwatering luster, which you can get at a fraction of the luxury retail price?


Shop Our Favorite Freshwater Pearls


If you would like to learn more about different types of pearls, don’t forget to check out our detailed guide on Types of Pearls, in the Pearl Education section of our website. Our CEO, who is one of the authors of the CPAA (Cultured Pearl Association of America) “Pearl as One” course, knows a thing or two about the importance of educating customers on the different types of pearls they can buy.


Akoya Pearl Earrings

Mikimoto started the cultured pearl industry by farming Akoya pearls in Japan, and Akoyas have always been the pearls most strongly associated with the company.

Mikimoto undoubtedly offers beautiful Akoya pearls, but they also charge top dollar for them. A pair of their top AAA quality 7.5 mm Mikimoto Akoya cultured pearl stud earrings can start upwards of $1,950.


Mikimoto Akoya Pearl Earrings

Mikimoto AAA Akoya Pearl Stud Earrings


Compare this to a lower quality pair of Mikimoto A+ Akoya pearl stud earrings, and you could find yourself paying upwards of $1,100. While these A+ grade Mikimoto Akoya pearls are clearly not as gorgeous as their AAA ones, you can be sure that they are many, many times better than most high quality Akoya pearls you will find elsewhere.


Akoya Pearl Necklaces

If you’re looking for exquisite pearls but don’t have the budget to splurge on luxury brand pearl prices, Pearls of Joy can offer you exceptional pearls at only a fraction of luxury retail prices.

Mikimoto Akoya Pearl Necklace Listing

Mikimoto A+ Akoya Pearl Necklace 7.5-8.0 mm


Let’s say you are looking for an 18-inch, 7.5 to 8.0 mm Japanese Akoya pearl necklace. At Mikimoto, you will find a lovely necklace, with perfectly round A+ quality pearls, for upwards of $9,800. While these pearls are nice, the price seems too steep for pearls that only meet the A+ Mikimoto grade.

By contrast, our topAAA quality 18-inch 7.5-8.0mm Akoya pearl necklace is available for only $1,489. You could buy six necklaces from Pearls of Joy and still save money!


Hanadama Pearls at Pearls of Joy

At Mikimoto, higher quality Akoya necklaces, especially of their AAA quality, are only available on request. However, we can say with extreme confidence that our Hanadama cultured pearls are a great match for Mikimoto’s AAA-grade Akoya pearls.

There are only a handful of pearl farmers in Japan who produce the gorgeous Hanadama quality Akoya pearls. Our CEO Kevin Canning sources all our PSL-certified Hanadama pearls directly from these pearl farms. This ensures that the pearls are genuine Hanadama and they are available at very attractive prices for our customers.


Hanadama Akoya Pearl Necklace from Pearls of Joy

Hanadama Akoya Necklace, Pearls of Joy


Because of their rarity, it takes time to perfectly match a Hanadama necklace strand for color, size, and overtones, as well as shape. Even so, our Hanadama necklaces can be purchased at very attractive price points, given how their quality is an almost perfect match for the top AAA quality Akoyas available at Mikimoto pearls.


The Perfect Strand of Pearls

Fine Japanese Hanadama Pearls

The perfect strand of pearls... Is it possible?

Perfectly round, beautifully matched, with a mirror like luster – Certified Japanese Hanadama Akoya pearls can’t be matched for quality and high-end appeal. This is the classic pearl necklace.  

South Sea Magic

Moving away from Akoyas, the comparison of Mikimoto’s South Sea pearl jewelry with our South Sea pearls is also interesting. South Sea pearls are the most expensive saltwater cultured pearls available today. At luxury retail, their prices are sky high!

Let's start with a pair of Mikimoto 11 mm golden South Sea pearl stud earrings which are priced at $10,500. At Pearls of Joy, our AAA quality 12 mm golden South Sea pearl stud earrings can be purchased for only $1,469.


Golden South Sea Pearl Earrings

Champagne Gold South Sea Pearl Stud Earrings (top left); Deep Gold South Sea Pearl Stud Earrings (bottom left), Pearls of Joy


We will admit that Mikimoto’s golden South Sea pearls are exceptional, for their deep gold color, their satiny luster and smooth surfaces. However, at Pearls of Joy you can find golden South Sea pearls that are almost indistinguishable but at a much happier price point. We promise your friends will never be able to tell you haven’t dished out thousands for those earrings.


Premium Pricing at Luxury Retail

This brings us to an important point — premium pricing by luxury brands. It’s not easy to understand the markups charged by many luxury retailers when comparing lower-priced pearl jewelry.

It is only when we look at the pricier pearls, such as the South Seas, which are the most expensive pearls in the world, does the difference in prices become apparent. Our South Sea pearls are priced at almost wholesale prices, while luxury retail prices for the same pearls are inflated by large premiums.


Shop Our South Sea Pearl Earrings

This again brings us back to our original question: Mikimoto vs Tiffany, which brand is better for luxury quality pearls? Both brands are known the world over for their fine jewelry and pearls. Both brands offer something different to jewelry buyers.

It is true that Tiffany has many jewelry collections that feature beautiful pearls. With its rich history of jewelry-making, Tiffany is a great choice for anyone looking to buy well-crafted fine jewelry. Mikimoto is where the story of cultured pearls began and even today, they have a reputation for only sourcing high-quality pearls in their luxurious jewelry pieces.

In that sense, both brands are good options if you are considering a jewelry purchase.

As compared to these two giants of the jewelry world, Pearls of Joy is a relatively new entrant to the field. But we more than make up for that with our top-quality pearls, beautiful jewelry and incredibly affordable prices.

At Pearls of Joy, all our pearls are carefully hand-selected and meet the highest value factors for luster, color, nacre, orient, size, shape and origin. Plus, you can get our pearl jewelry at amazingly affordable prices.

Our pearls more than match the best pearls in the market today, and are loved by our many loyal customers, who keep returning to us as they add to their ever-growing pearl jewelry collections.


The Perfect Strand of Pearls

Fine Japanese Akoya Pearls

The perfect strand of pearls... Is it possible?

Perfectly round, beautifully matched, with a mirror like luster – Japanese Akoya pearls can’t be matched for quality and high-end appeal. This is the classic pearl necklace.  

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