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Mikimoto versus Hanadama Pearls

The Dilemma of Hanadama Akoya vs Mikimoto Pearls

Pearl lovers are always on the lookout for the best Akoya pearls, and for most shoppers, their research will eventually lead them to make a Mikimoto vs Hanadama Akoya comparison.

Both Mikimoto and Hanadama pearls are great choices, but comparing the two isn’t straightforward, because these terms describe two very different things.

While both are cultured pearls, Mikimoto is a pearl jewelry brand and Hanadama is a grade of very high quality Akoya pearls.

If you’re looking for a Mikimoto alternative, but still want stunning, lustrous Akoya pearls, the Hanadamas available from other brands are an excellent place to start. And if you want to ensure you get top quality pearls, it’s important to know what options are available, and how they measure up against each other.

Make no mistake — finding beautiful pearls doesn’t have to mean depending on a big brand name like Mikimoto.

While Mikimoto offers very nice pearls, you can find equally exquisite Hanadama pearls from reputable online pearl jewelers like Pearls of Joy. So, let’s compare the pearls offered by Mikimoto with the gorgeous Hanadama pearls available elsewhere.

What are Hanadama Pearls?

What are Hanadama Pearls

Hanadama-grade pearls are undoubtedly the best Akoya pearls you will find anywhere. Renowned for their remarkable beauty, Hanadama Akoya pearls are also very rare, typically comprising only the top 3% of the Akoya pearl harvest of any season.

Hanadama is a Japanese word which means “spherical flower.” These “flower pearls” were named for their light pink overtones, which reminded pearl lovers of the delicate hues of Japan’s famous cherry blossoms.

The Hanadama grade is awarded to top quality Akoya pearls by Pearl Science Lab (PSL), an independent organization based in Tokyo. With their detailed inspection certificates, you can be sure that certified Hanadama pearls, such as those from Pearls of Joy, have met a very stringent set of standards.

Hanadama Pearl Certificate

Hanadama Pearl Necklace Certificate Sample, Pearls of Joy

Kevin Canning, our founder and CEO, once famously described Hanadama pearls as the “Ferrari of Pearls.” It’s a comparison that captures how unique, exceptional, and rare these pearls are, and explains why they are sought after by so many pearl jewelry lovers.

At Pearls of Joy, we source our Hanadama-certified pearls directly from the only two Akoya pearl farms in Japan that produce these magnificent pearls.

When analysts at the internationally recognized Pearl Science Labs examine pearls, they look for specific value factors to determine if they meet the strict Hanadama standard or not.

Specifically, pearls with the Hanadama label must feature:

Perfectly round shape.

Very strong and highly reflective luster and nacre (also known as mother-of-pearl) thickness of 0.4 mm on each side.

Clean surface and gleaming white color.

Exceptional overtones and beautiful aurora (a rainbow- or soap bubble-like effect that appears on the surface of the pearl, a result of the interaction of light with the thickly layered nacre of these pearls).

Every piece of jewelry in Pearls of Joy’s Hanadama pearl collection, for instance, was thoroughly tested and examined by the PSL before it was awarded the Hanadama certification.

Interestingly, Mikimoto does not use the Hanadama certification for any of its pearls. Instead, pearl graders at Mikimoto have their own, in-house pearl grading system.

That means there is no independent benchmark that can be used to easily compare Mikimoto pearls to those of other sellers.

And that brings us to our next question: How do Hanadama-certified pearls compare to Mikimoto pearls? Well, we’ll have to get into some details.

Best Quality Pearls – Hanadama or Mikimoto?

Certified Hanadama Akoya pearls are the finest Akoya pearls available; there is no grade above Hanadama, and there are no “levels” within the Hanadama grade. They are all top-notch.

Mikimoto, by contrast, offers four different grades of Akoya pearls, with A being the lowest and AAA being the best.

As such, it makes sense to compare the best Mikimoto has to offer — their AAA-grade Akoya pearls — with Hanadama-certified pearls, the crème de la crème of Akoya pearls.

Stud Earrings: Mikimoto AAA or Pearls of Joy's Hanadama Pearls?

One of the best ways to compare pearls from different brands is to compare simple stud earrings, since the focal point is the pearl itself.

Mikimoto Pearl Earrings Price Comparison

With that in mind, the most straightforward comparison would be between Mikimoto AAA 8.0 mm Akoya pearl stud earrings and Pearls of Joy's top range Hanadama pearl 8.0-8.5 mm stud earrings.

Both these jewelry pieces are similar in terms of pearl quality, as well as color, size and shape. In fact, in terms of quality, both are easily in the top tier pearl stud earrings available in their category today.

Pearls of Joy Pearl Earrings Price Comparison

At Pearls of Joy, you will find that a pair of Hanadama Akoya pearl stud earrings will exhibit sharp, striking, mirror-like luster and overtones in a variety of natural colors. Similarly, at Mikimoto, a AAA grade for Akoya pearls gives you pearls with lovely luster and pretty overtones.

Mikimoto always states that its Akoya pearls have thick nacre, without ever getting into specific measurements. By contrast, the PSL certified Hanadama Akoya pearls at Pearls of Joy always specify a nacre thickness in excess of 0.4mm (on both sides), making them among the brightest and shiniest Akoya pearls.

Bottom Line

The truth is that the Mikimoto AAA and Pearls of Joy’s Hanadama pearl stud earrings are ultimately very similar. With their perfectly round white Akoya pearls, radiant luster, clean surfaces and attractive overtes, for anyone but a pearl expert, it will be difficult to tell these two pairs of earrings apart.

For anyone else — in fact for almost 99% of all buyers and wearers of jewelry — it will be almost impossible to tell a Mikimoto AAA Akoya stud pearl earring from Pearls of Joy’s Hanadama pair.

This is especially true when you consider that both Mikimoto AAA and Pearls of Joy’s Hanadama pearls exhibit extremely sharp, striking luster.

And luster is what makes or breaks the beauty of a pearl.

Pearl Clasp Stringing Quality Close Up

What does it mean when we say beautiful luster?

Luster is the most important value factor for all pearls, but especially for Akoyas. It describes a quality similar to reflectiveness.

To understand the very strong and sharp luster of the Hanadama pearls at Pearls of Joy, imagine looking at a pearl and seeing your own reflection on its surface, bright with sharp edges.

This is the epitome of luster, and without exception, this is what you’ll find in Pearls of Joy’s Hanadama pearls. These pearls will also have a clean surface and gorgeous overtones, often in the much desired pink and green hues.

When you hold our pearls in your hand, you will also notice another alluring quality of the finest pearls: their aurora. The interaction of light with pristine layers of nacre results in a rainbow-like soap bubble effect skimming on a pearl’s surface.

Whether on a single Hanadama pearl or a necklace strand from our Hanadama Akoya collection, we don’t need to tell you how fabulous the aurora looks. Few gems can match its beauty.

Pearls of Joy’s Hanadama Akoya pearl stud earrings are available in 18k white or yellow gold mounts. They can also be purchased in 14k white or yellow gold settings.

That may seem like a small detail, but the ability to select carat weight and color gives Pearls of Joy’s buyers greater choice and budget flexibility when they make their purchasing decision.

📢 Deepen Your Pearl Knowledge: Ultimate Pearl Buyer's Guide

Price, Price, Price

Let’s talk about price. A pair of Mikimoto AAA-grade 8.0 mm white Akoya stud earrings sell for $2,600. A similar certified white Hanadama Akoya 8.0-8.5 mm stud earrings pair at Pearls of Joy is available for $589.

We hate to point out the obvious, but the price difference between Mikimoto’s AAA and Pearls of Joy’s Hanadama stud earrings is astronomical! At the end of the day, Mikimoto is like any ultra-luxury brand. A portion of the purchase price pays for the brand name and prestige.

Hanadama Pearls with PSL Certificate

Pearls of Joy’s Hanadama Akoya Necklace with PSL Certificate

Necklace Strands: Hanadama vs Mikimoto

The comparison between Mikimoto and Hanadama pearls becomes even more interesting when we look at necklace strands.

Mikimoto Pearl Necklace Price Comparison

Mikimoto’s AAA-grade Akoya necklaces come from their Reserve collection. These necklaces are the zenith of Mikimoto’s Akoya pearl jewelry pieces, and feature AAA-grade Akoya pearls.

A comparable piece would be Pearls of Joy’s top range Hanadama Akoya necklace. Both the Mikimoto AAA necklace and Pearls of Joy’s Hanadama necklace feature beautiful gleaming white pearls, superbly matched in size gradation, with clean surfaces, minimal blemishing, and a perfectly round shape.

However, while the Mikimoto AAA Akoya necklace exhibits bright luster, what we really love about the Pearls of Joy Hanadama necklace is the uniform thickness of the pearl nacre.

With its minimum guaranteed thickness of 0.4 mm on both sides, the result is a sharp, mirror-like luster unlike any other grade of Akoya pearls. Try peering at yourself on the pearls in the necklace — you’ll be stunned by the clarity of your reflection.

All the pearls in a certified Hanadama necklace at Pearls of Joy will exhibit gorgeous overtones. These pearls will also have the much-loved aurora effect shimmering on their surfaces. 

Pearls of Joy Pearl Necklace Pricing

How Do The Prices Compare?

As with their other products, Mikimoto necklaces have a very large price tag attached to them. For a Mikimoto Reserve 18-inch necklace of AAA-grade 8.5-9.0 mm white Akoya pearls, be prepared to pay around $71,000. With that sum of money, you could buy a brand new car or make a down payment on a house!

Pearls of Joy’s 18-inch certified Hanadama Akoya 8.5-9.0 mm necklaces are available at $5,879. That’s less than 1/10th the price of the Mikimoto. And, as we mentioned earlier, these necklaces would be practically indistinguishable to 99% of pearl buyers.  

This incredibly affordable price is possible only because Pearls of Joy follows the “direct to consumer” pricing model. We don’t have costly retail outlets like legacy brands do, and we don’t maintain showrooms in the world’s most expensive shopping districts.

Our CEO Kevin Canning sources all our pearls directly from pearl farms, removing all unnecessary overhead and markups. As a result, our pearls are available at almost wholesale prices when compared with the prices charged at traditional luxury retail.

Hanadama vs Mikimoto: Similar Quality, Way Different Prices

If you choose to shop with Pearls of Joy, your friends and family will only see exceptionally exquisite pearls around your neck and on your earlobes. Some may even ask you where they can find similar pieces of jewelry. And is there a better compliment than that?

Given all these facts, isn’t a certified Hanadama Akoya pearl necklace, by Pearls of Joy, with its luminous, high quality pearls the perfect choice for pearl lovers? We certainly believe so.

Anyone looking for the best-of-the-best Hanadama pearl necklaces at incredible prices need look no further than Pearls of Joy's Hanadama collection.


Now that we’ve cleared up your questions about Mikimoto and Hanadama pearls, you may be wondering about other pearl industry terminology. For example, how do Akoya pearls compare with Hanadama pearls? Let’s briefly look into that.

Akoya vs Hanadama Pearls – Is There A Difference?

As with Mikimoto and Hanadama pearls, the answer to this question is slightly complex.

Akoya pearls are saltwater cultured pearls that are grown in the Pinctada Fucata oyster. As mentioned earlier, top quality Akoya pearls certified by PSL are called Hanadama pearls. So Hanadama pearls are a specific, high quality sub-variety of Akoya pearls.

Shoppers should be aware that a Hanadama pearl will almost always be labeled as such. That means if a pearl is just labeled “Akoya,” it will usually be of lower quality when compared to a Hanadama pearl (Mikimoto, with its in-house grading system, is an exception to this rule, as discussed in-depth above.).


Pearls of Joy Akoya Pearl Bracelets

Pearls of Joy’s Akoya AA+ White Pearl Bracelet

Akoya pearls come in a range of grades, from A to AAA, which gives buyers choices, especially for different budgets. Pearls of Joy’s 8.0-8.5 mm AA+ Akoya pearl bracelet is ideal for anyone interested in a lovely mid-range bracelet, for example.

With its gleaming white color, sharp luster and clean surfaces, this bracelet has the right wow factor and is available for $789.

AA+ are not the top AAA-grade Akoya pearls, but they are lovely. What’s more, at Pearls of Joy, our AA+ grade Akoya jewelry sells at very affordable price points, especially given their above mid-range quality.

📢 Read More: Pearl Grading Guide

Hanadama Pearls vs Akoya AAA Quality Pearls

If you’re looking for higher quality pearls, look at Pearls of Joy’s Hanadama pearls and AAA-grade Akoya pearls.

An AAA-grade Akoya pearl at Pearls of Joy promises you an almost blemish-free surface, sharp and bright luster, and excellent matching in color and shape. But it won’t give you the mirror-like, highly reflective, very clean surface and crisp luster of a Hanadama. Nor will it offer that rare and much-loved aurora effect for which Hanadama pearls are renowned.


Pearls of Joy Hanadama Pearl Bracelet Pricing

The difference in quality between these two different grades of pearls is reflected in their price points. At Pearls of Joy, an 8.0-8.5 mm Hanadama pearl bracelet sells for $2,349 while a AAA-grade 8.0-8.5 mm Akoya pearl bracelet has a price tag of $1,099.

In the end, it all comes down to the superior quality of the Hanadama pearls, which is unmatched even by the top AAA-grade Akoya pearls. Both are lustrous pearls, but the Hanadama pearls are exceptional.


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.  

Hanadama vs Freshadama

Freshadama is a relatively new term some sellers use to describe gem-quality freshwater cultured pearls. It applies to a category of pearls that is a cut above even AAA freshwater pearls. Other sellers have created a new grade for their freshwater pearls, AAAA, which they exclusively use for their Freshadama pearls.

Neither Freshadama nor AAAA grades are industry-recognized freshwater pearl standards. They are mostly used as an attention-grabbing way to market gem-quality freshwater pearls.

Because Freshadama (or AAAA-grade freshwater pearls) don’t have clear, industry-wide measurement standards, different Freshadama pearl sellers have set up their own criteria for determining what constitutes this top quality of freshwater pearls. So the Freshadama pearls from one seller may not be the same quality as those from another.

That said, Freshadama pearls are generally very high quality freshwater pearls that come in a variety of natural colors, including white, pink, peach and lavender. These pearls have a soft, rich luster and bright overtones.

The shape of Freshadama pearls is generally almost-round or near-round. This is quite rare for freshwater pearls, most of which are slightly oval or egg-shaped.


Gem Grade Freshwater Pearls or Hanadama Akoya Pearls?

Gem Quality Freshwater Pearls vs Hanadama Pearls

Gem grade Freshwater pearls are a good option for anyone looking for great pearls at affordable prices. They have a soft, silky luster, good surface quality, and overtones in delicate shades ranging from green to lavender.

Even so, when compared head-to-head, gem-quality freshwater pearls (or Freshadama pearls) can never match the luminous beauty of Hanadama Akoya pearls. While Freshadama pearls are undoubtedly among the finest freshwater pearls available, their name can be a bit misleading. They are not comparable in quality to Hanadamas. And they don’t conform to industry-recognized guidelines like those certified by Pearl Science Lab.

Hanadama or Mikimoto: Between the Two, Which Are For You?

Hanadama Pearl Necklace Close Up on Model

That brings us back to where we started: which are better, Hanadama Akoya pearls or Mikimoto AAA-grade Akoya pearls?

The truth is, both are lovely and quite similar. Both are white, perfectly round Akoya pearls with strikingly lustrous surfaces (although Hanadama pearls have the added attribute of exhibiting the rare and wonderful aurora effect).

The difference then is in their prices. At Pearls of Joy, you can find an exceptional certified Hanadama pearl necklace with to-die-for luster and overtones for just a little over $5,000. A similar necklace at Mikimoto will retail for $71,000.

We believe $65,000 is a big difference when you are getting the same top quality and similarly fabulous pearls. How about you?


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.  

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