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How to Make a String of Pearls

A string of pearls is an ornament of timeless beauty. Pearls have been valued for thousands of years because of their luster and rarity. Natural pearls are generally irregular in shape. Natural pearls which are round or spherical in shape are very rare and highly prized. Under natural conditions, only one in ten thousand oysters will produce pearls that are of commercial value. Most pearls today are produced by implanting beads of mother-of-pearl into the tissue of mollusks and then returning them to the water to allow the luster to develop.

Knotted Pearl Necklace
Click on the pictures to enlarge them

The following pictures provide step-by-step instructions for creating a string of pearls. It is possible to just string the pearls like beads without knotting, but there are two reason for knotting the pearls one-by-one: 1) Pearls are softer than stones, and the knot between the pearls keeps them from rubbing against each other and dulling the luster, and 2) If the string breaks, only one pearl will fall. The rest of the pearls will stay together and not be scattered.

Pearl Necklace Materials

Materials
To make a string of pearls, you will need approximately 50 pre-drilled pearls with a diameter of 6-millimeters, a length of about 2 yards of size E silk thread, a thin needle, two clamshell tips, one jump ring, and a lobster clasp. Small scissors and jewelery cement are also needed. Below, there is a section where you can order jewelry supplies online.

Pearl Necklace Findings

The Findings: Lobster Clasp finding, Jump Ring, and two Clamshell tips.
The clamshell tips provide a way of hiding the end knots, and also make it possible to attach a wide variety of clasps. For this project we use a lobster clasp finding which will link to a jump ring.

Pearl Necklace Clamshell tip

Threading the first clamshell tip.
Thread the silk string through the needle, and move the needle to the middle of the string. Make a knot to tie the loose ends. A double thread is used in traditional pearl knotting. Put the threaded needle through one clamshell tip and pull the thread until the knot is on the cupped side of the clamshell. Add a drop of glue, trim the remaining silk and close the clamshell.

Pearl Necklace Clamshell tip

Before stringing the first pearl, make an overhand knot against the clamshell tip so that the first pearl will not be in contact with the metal. Pearls are relatively soft and their appearance will deteriorate if they get scratched.

Pearl Necklace knotting

Start threading the pearls, and make an overhand knot with the doubled silk string between each pearl. You can use a large needle or an awl to slide the knot against the pearl before tightening it. There are tools for knotting pearls that can make this task slightly easier.

Pearl Necklace knotting

Pull each knot tight against each pearl by sliding your fingernail or some tweezers against the knot. Finish by pulling apart the two strands to bring the knot as close as possible to the pearl.

Pearl Necklace Clamshell tip

Thread the last clamshell tip by inserting the needle from the side opposite to the cupped side. This will allow the final knot to be hidden inside the clamshell. After knotting securely, glue and trim the remaining silk as before.

Pearl Necklace lobster clasps

Link the clamshell tips to the lobster clasp and the jump ring. With small pointed pliers, curve the clamshell tips around the clasp. Once the clasp is secure, apply a tiny drop of glue at the end of the clamshell to keep the tip from opening.

Pearl Necklace clasps

Once the clasp and jump ring have been added, the pearl string is complete. You have some jewelry that you can be proud of.

To make matching earrings, see the instructions for Wire Wrapping.



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