Wow, where did you hear that the quality is not good?
I think it is a premier brand. I have a 16 inch strand with matching bracelet and stud earrings and they are spectacular! Very smooth, high lustre, and incredibly matching! I also have a necklace that has the three graduated strands; it is over 40 years old and it is also beautiful.
Mikimoto does has a less prestigious line called Blue Lagoon; maybe that is what you heard about?
mikimoto in the pearl world is the equivalent of buying tiffanys diamonds- beautiful stones (or pearls in this case) for premium loot. i own only 1 miki piece. about a year ago, i was turned on to Pearls Pearl Jewelry Pearl Necklace Cultured Pearls. i havent bought anything from them yet. i'm saving for their "mystery pearls" piece. Quite fascinating. They give u 51 strands w/ these "mystery connectors" that allow u to change the strand from 1 long necklace into 2 necklaces, or a choker and 2 bracelets, or "256" other wearbable combinations:

This site has every kind of pearl! From fresh water, akoya, tahitian to GOLD! Its insane.

They also have a comparison b/w miki's prices and theirs, which is also insane. American Pearl vs. Mikimoto

I kno we all love our designer pieces, so I won't say never buy from miki. his craftmanship and quality is superb! i'll always look to him for his artwork. But if we're just talking about getting a strand w/ no diamonds, no design... idakno seems kinda pointless to buy from Mikimoto.

Based on ur budget, you can pick the luster you want (triple A being the best).

So far I've heard nothing but positive reviews from other jewelry lovers about AP. And I believe their return policy is 90days. So you could have them appraised to put ur mind @ ease. With the money you'd be saving if you went this route, I'd say its worth it. Wonder if anyone here has ever used them....