Founder Story

Aiko Nishimura grew up near Japan’s Lake Biwa, the birthplace of freshwater pearls, where she was immersed in her family’s business in sustainable pearl cultivation and trading dating back three generations. Her experience is what fueled her love of freshwater pearls, her pursuit to study jewelry design, and her desire to get involved in her family’s business.

As a child, not only did Aiko learn about her family’s heritage in pearl farming, but she also watched her father (who’s a bioengineer who specializes in freshwater pearl farming technology) work hand in hand with his brother, Saburo Nishimura to continue their family’s legacy and to further improve upon it.  Witnessing this influenced Aiko greatly.

As the youngest generation, Aiko looks back at her family’s history of introducing the world to sustainable freshwater pearls with BIWAKO as an honorable contribution to humanity. She sees BIWAKO as a way for people to access the timeless values that BIWAKO pearls represent. This was the catalyst for her to get her fine art design degree in her 20s and then formally join her family’s business.  

While leading the North American trading at BIWAKO, Aiko used her spare time to work on designing pearl jewelry since many of her friends would ask her to find a quality pearl with a modern aesthetic. But it was a design Aiko was commissioned to do by a mother who wanted to get her daughter who lived in NYC as a graduation gift that put Aiko on the map. The piece got so many compliments that word of mouth spread quickly about Aiko’s designs.

This was the pivotal moment when Aiko began to think about creating a consumer brand to carry her family’s tradition forward and make sustainable freshwater pearls with classic yet current design elements for jewelry lovers around the world.

To further push the bounds, Aiko created BIWAKO Lab, an initiative within the company that works with multi-disciplined designers worldwide to explore the endless possibilities of what the modern pearl design can look like.

Now as the head of BIWAKO, Aiko decided to relaunch the brand to consumers using the 50-year-old family label to honor her family’s lineage–all while carrying on the family’s mission to offer the world’s best-in-class freshwater pearl with timeless Japanese values that are deeply rooted in the hearts of the people from Lake Biwa.

BIWAKO is the modern Japanese pearl heirloom. It represents the duality often mirrored in nature and the world around us.  It’s something old. It’s something new. It’s timeless, yet timely.