Kokichi Mikimoto famously stated that it was his wish to adorn “all women in the world with pearls.” What he had in mind, at that time, was a strand of graduated white Akoya pearl necklace, a predominant interpretation of pearls as a perfectly feminine piece of jewellery. However, with Mikimoto’s Passionoir Collection, this very idea seems to have been turned on its head.
Black is not a colour we often associate with Mikimoto but their Passionoir Collection, as the name implies, is built around it. In fact, this choice of colour drives the collection. Dark Tahitian pearls and ‘Japanned Noir’ black rhodium plated silver or 18K gold, is a combination that says drama and spectacle in no uncertain terms. Aimed at men, with Japanese actor Masaki Suda as the face of this collection, Passionoir is a clear declaration that pearls for men are here to stay.
The collection has been inspired by a “chemical reaction between the innocent beauty of pearls combined with the powerful and mysterious black colour.” As such, it is an exploration of where pearls can go when jewellery design is pushed to the outer limits or when pearls are allowed to break free. The Passionoir Collection is compelling, in that, the refined beauty of pearls surrounded by black metal and black gemstones, makes for a very avante garde selection of jewels.
The Passionoir Collection is not the first time Mikimoto has created jewels for men. In early 2020 Mikimoto teamed up with Commes de Garçon for a jewellery collection that had women as well as men in its sights. But Passionoir is different due to its very masculine, almost ruggedly so, design aesthetic.
The collection comprises of necklaces, bracelets, earrings and ear cuffs and is punctuated with strong contradictions. Luminous, multicoloured Tahitian pearls are set in bracelets with matte-black rhodium plated 18k gold spacers. Necklaces and bracelets with dark, chunky link chains are held together with one black, glossy pearl with one Mikimoto M charm, in black-plated gold, as the only embellishments. One black and silver Tahitian pearl ombré necklace has a black and white diamond-pavé ball clasp. It is details like these which make this collection stand out. Several pieces are an interesting crossover of design and concepts from the M for Mikimoto Collection. All in all, the pieces in this collection have contemporary silhouettes that are tempered by a muscular moodiness.
The one piece in the collection which veers away from its predominantly all-black colour palette is a white Akoya pearl and black rhodium-plated silver ear cuff. This ear cuff does stand out for its black and white colours in an otherwise all noir collection. Still, it is situated firmly within the universe of Passionoir by its rather sleek and almost minimalist design.
The Japanned Noir black rhodium plating on the metal is another unique feature of the Passionoir Collection. Japanning is a lacquer finish, created and perfected in Japan as a protective and decorative coating for metallic objects. In this collection, the rhodium plating on silver and 18k gold performs the same aesthetic and preservative function, all the while adding a powerful refinement to the pieces. ( Japanned Noir describes all Mikimoto jewellery pieces with black rhodium coatings).
In a year when we saw Mikimoto’s The Japanese Sense of Beauty high jewellery collection, their Passionoir Collection may, on the surface, come as an unexpected surprise. But, if we are to think about it, this collection is just as much an encapsulation of the Japanese idea of beauty as is its predecessors, though it has been crafted with vastly different design ideas. In a way, the soul of this collection is reminiscent of the Sogetsu School of Ikebana, where design is allowed to flow naturally and reach new heights. The desire to push pearl jewellery design to new boundaries is apparent in this collection and that is what makes the Passionoir Collection so beautiful.
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