The intersection of Fifth Avenue and 57th Street may well be the most luxurious corner in New York City, anchored by the massive Louis Vuitton flagship, Bergdorf Goodman and the still luxurious, if somewhat tarnished Trump Tower.
Drawn to this exclusive neighborhood are Chanel, Prada, Burberry, Saint Laurent, Dior, Prada, Bulgari, David Yurman, Ermenegildo Zegna among others. And this is where Mikimoto chose to open its new two-story NYC flagship boutique.
It’s located at 730 Fifth Avenue, just a few doors away from its previous storefront, but world’s away in its shopping experience. The new flagship spans two floors and nearly doubles its previous space, from about 1,800 sq. ft. to 3,500 sq. ft. The expansion makes room for a jewelry wall to showcase one-of-a-kind pieces and private VIP client areas for viewing.
The new Mikimoto boutique is a celebration of all things pearls, inspired by the luxury ambiance of its Ginza, Tokyo flagship store. Plus it adds more, including a “Mikimoto Loves NY” collection of giftable pearl picture frames, pens, scarves and jewelry box, along with a new Mikimoto gender-neutral perfume combining citrus, iris, magnolia and saffron notes.
Now with four dedicated stores in the U.S., including Beverly Hills, South Coast Plaza and a recently opened location in Las Vegas, plus hundreds of trade partners, Mikimoto is catching a wave in one of the fastest-growing categories in the jewelry market.
Unlike every other natural gem, pearls don’t take away from the natural environment, but give back. Pearls are farmed in the purest, unpolluted waters, not mined in environmentally-destructive ways. They are organically-natural, environmentally-sustaining and virtually-renewable, the perfect gem for today’s ecologically-enlightened consumers.
“There’s a certain elegance, sophistication and simplicity of pearls that is very alluring,” says Yugo Tsukikawa, Mikimoto’s senior vice president of marketing and brand strategy for the Americas.
“We are very confident as people discover pearls beyond the classic image of the pearl necklace. Pearl jewelry can be a bit more radical, which resonates with Millennials,” he continues.
Pearls on the rise
Pearls are making a comeback and Mikimoto is leading the charge, having invented the industry-standard process for cultured pearl farming in 1893. And the company continues to support the pearl farming industry with intense research and development initiatives.
A recent study projected global pearl jewelry sales to reach $20 billion by 2025, based on a CAGR of 13%. This compares to the overall global jewelry market which is expected to post 3.8% CAGR through 2027, while sales of diamond jewelry will only advance 1.2% CAGR through 2025 to reach $91.6 billion. While these are but market projections and can’t account for the many unknowns that may arise in the post-pandemic global economy, they are valuable for comparative purposes.
From Tsukikawa’s perspective, Mikimoto is in the perfect position to capture more than its share of the projected revenue growth. And because it is a virtually integrated company – “All our jewelry is crafted in our 100-year-old Meguro factory,” he says – its profits should grow as well.
Already seeing a boost in its boutique traffic, Tsukikawa has been especially encouraged by a strong uptick in sales to its trade partners, as well as a shift to online sales.
“Despite the pandemic people still have special moments they want to celebrate,” he says. “In Mikimoto they have chosen a product that has real lifetime value and is versatile as well.”
Looking further ahead, he expects business to enjoy tailwinds once people can travel again, boosted even further as luxury consumers return to normalcy after a year of being in lockdown.
“People haven’t been out to social events and when they do, we expect them to be purchasing more high-end jewelry, not just for special occasions, but for everyday,” Tsukikawa shares.
Pearls are making a new fashion statement
As for its designs, Mikimoto is leaning into the versatility of pearls which mix well will all kinds of metals and lend themselves to many different forms of artistic expression beyond classic pearl necklaces.
While necklaces are and will remain the company’s evergreen category, it is finding strong demand for pearl bracelets and gender-neutral styles, including a unisex collection developed in collaboration with Comme des Garçons. Tsukikawa notes that Marc Jacobs is a huge Mikimoto fan.
“We’ve adapted to more modern fashion and as fashion evolves, our design evolves too,” Tsukikawa concludes. “But we aren’t necessarily chasing short-term trends, rather we are staying true to ourselves. To ensure the quality and promise to our customers, we can’t compromise on any step.”