Mikimoto’s Passionoir Collection Pushes Pearls to New Heights

by Christina Holevas

A piece of fine jewelry or classic investment timepiece is never just an accessory—there’s always a rich story behind it. In W’s new series Rock Stars, we delve into what makes past, present, and future heirlooms so unique.

In the early aughts, when sweet sixteens were having their moment, I was given a strand of pearls for my 16th birthday. At the time, pearls weren’t really my style, so I couldn’t quite picture myself wearing the necklace. Yet it felt like such an appropriate gift, so quintessentially feminine, a symbol of a young woman coming of age. Since that day, the pearls have remained in the back of my jewelry box, but rarely crossed my mind. That is, until a few years ago when I saw a cute guy in the city wearing a similar strand.

Pearls have been appearing more frequently on men since 2019. ASAP Rocky has worn them and Harry Styles has all but made them a regular part of his wardrobe. My stylish male co-workers have turned up to the office in pearls, and so have the various romantic interests of my friends. Once traditional and maybe even a bit boring, pearls are now an essential element of a cool and genderless wardrobe. A new way to play with the contrasts of gender norms and traditions.

Of course, I never think about pearls without thinking of Mikimoto. The iconic Japanese brand founded in 1893 was the first in the world to create cultured pearls and has been synonymous with the style ever since. For pearl lovers, Mikimoto is the holy grail, the height of elegance, and always ahead of trends and innovation in the industry.

With their newest collection, called PASSIONOIR, Mikimoto further upends tradition. In a series of campaign videos, shot entirely on men (specifically a skater, a boxer, a chef and a BMX biker, to name a few) pearl jewelry, all in shades of black, is shown in a new light. “We always seek to maintain the importance and relevance of Mikimoto pearl jewelry designs regardless of age and gender,” Mikimoto CEO Yasuhiko Hashimoto told me. “Our vision with PASSIONOIR was to express this passion through new designs inspired by the chemical reaction brought by the strong contrast between the innocent beauty of pearls, combined with the powerful and mysterious black color, further pursuing the possibility of pearls.”

The jewelry itself certainly lives up to its stated mission, pushing pearls to newer, even cooler heights, by mixing them with chains and geometric metals. My favorite piece is a black, south sea cultured pearl ear cuff, which would look perfectly at home on anyone be they man, woman, or gender nonconforming. You can shop the full collection at and check out the campaign videos here.