Filipino Miss International official finds new crown sponsor from Vietnam

Sireethorn Leearamwat, Thailand’s first Miss International winner and the global pageant’s longest reigning queen, shows the new crown from Long Beach Pearl at the unveiling event held in Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam./MISS INTERNATIONAL FACEBOOK PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines — The Tokyo-based Miss International pageant unveiled over the weekend a new crown that will be used for its 60th competition later this year.

The new crown, designed and created by the Long Beach Pearl company in Vietnam, was presented to the public at a special event held at the Rex Hotel in Ho Chi Minh City on Nov. 5, attended by reigning queen Sireethorn Leearamwat from Thailand and Stephen Diaz, the Filipino marketing manager of the Miss International Organization.

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The new crown will replace the iconic one being used by the pageant with a fur-lined base and white lasso used to tie around the winners’ chin to secure it in place.

Japanese pearl jewelry maker Mikimoto has been providing the international pageant’s crown since 1967, from the competition’s last edition in Long Beach, California, in the United States. Several iterations of the bejeweled headpiece have adorned the heads of Miss International winners until 1999, with two Filipino queens receiving it—Aurora Pijuan in 1970 and Melanie Marquez in 1979.

When Precious Lara Quigaman and Bea Rose Santiago became the fourth and fifth Filipino Miss International winners in 2005 and 2013, respectively, they wore As-me Estelle’s version of the pearl crown, which was awarded from 2000 to 2014. The Mikimoto pearl crown resurfaced in 2015, and adorned the head of the Philippines’ sixth winner, Kylie Verzosa who won in 2016.

But in the middle of 2022, Mikimoto announced that it will cease its partnership with the Miss International Organization after a shift in its business strategy, to take a “new direction.”

Mikimoto also provided the “Phoenix” crown used in the Miss Universe pageant from 2001 to 2008, and in 2017 and 2018.

Diaz told the Inquirer in an online interview: “I looked for sponsors, and Long Beach Pearl was introduced to us after my June trip to Vietnam.”

He said the Vietnamese company proposed to take the iconic cherry blossoms of Japan as inspiration, and the international organization “loved it right away,” after a few revisions to the color choice. The actual construction of the crown took about three months, he added.

Long Beach Pearl shared in a Facebook post the theme, “Cherry Blossoms welcome the spring sunshine,” and said 333 white pearls were used, a number that symbolizes luck and survival. “The crown’s special highlight is [three] selected pearls measuring up to 15 [millimeters], bringing the beauty of immortality and sublime,” it added.