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  1. #1
    Pearl Designer & Collector Senior Pearl-Guide.com Pearl Expert
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    Default Drilling Pearls Without A Pearl Drill

    Hi All,

    I bought this Pearl Drilling Jig recently. Haven't used it yet but hope to soon. I have some Tahitian pearls and some keshi that I need to drill. My question is - Is it possible to use a jig like this? It does hold pearls well and it will even hold keshi and other out of shape pearls but although it has a hole in the top for drilling through it would not be possible to turn the pearl to drill through the reverse side. Well not if I want to meet the holes up correctly. So is it okay to only drill through from one side? Is it possible to buy cups to hold the pearl so that it could be turned when 75% of the way through and still line up the holes?

    Where can I buy cups for drilling pearls. For the most part I buy drilled pearls but every now and again I come across some beauties that are not drilled so I need to drill but a $1000 pearl drill is out of the question, unfortunately, at the moment. Not sure it could ever pay for itself either.

    So what is the best way to drill pearls without having all the equipment. I do have a Dremel, some bits and this Pearl Jig but that is about it. One more thing, where is a good place to buy diamond tipped bits for my drill?

    Thanks, Bo
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  2. #2
    Pearl Designer & Collector Senior Pearl-Guide.com Pearl Expert
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    So what is the best way to drill pearls without having all the equipment. I do have a Dremel, some bits and this Pearl Jig but that is about it. One more thing, where is a good place to buy diamond tipped bits for my drill?
    Hi All,

    I posted this only a few hours ago but it is already in yesterdays posts. So if anyone can help me with drilling information I would really appreciate it.

    Thanks, Bodecia

  3. #3
    Super Moderator Senior Pearl-Guide.com Pearl Expert jshepherd's Avatar
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    I have never used a jig to drill pearls personally. It is just used to basically hold the pearl in place pinpoint the exact spot of drill penetration, correct? There would have to be some way of flipping the pearl exactly 180 degrees to drill from theexact opposite side... If this were not possible, you would only be able to drill half drills safely.

  4. #4
    Valeria101
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    Speaking of exotic low-tech ways to drill pearls...

    Whatever it takes to use a twist drill on pearl never ceases to amaze me, and not in the very least the fact that this type of mind torture (or Zen discipline, whichever way you want to look at it) is still done. Phew! Could barely muster the patience to make camp fire with a twist drill: even that is hard to keep steady. It must take bloody months of drilling dried peas to get the pearls right.

    Word goes around (in press, and among the traveled jewelers in town too) that at least seed pearls are still drilled this way in India, and that the very small 'Suna' keshi are still being drilled with a bow. Any truth in that? It's head spinning just to think of it!

  5. #5
    Pearl Designer & Collector Senior Pearl-Guide.com Pearl Expert
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    That's is right Jeremy, the jig only holds the pearls and has a hole in the top to drill through but any turning of the pearl would have to be done manually. So I suppose it is only meant for half drilling pearls.

    I have been told that some people can hold a pearl in their fingers while drilling it. But I know they get very hot so don't see how they can do it. Was also told that pearls can be drilled from only one side if careful. Do you think it is possible to do and still get neat drill holes either side?

    Valeria101, I have a strand of the smallest keishi anyone is every likely to see. It looks like a strand of silk to me with nothing on it but there are tiny .5 or so keshi on it. It is mind boggling, not only the drilling of them but the stringing up. How?? I will never break it to make anything as I wouldn't be able to find the tiny drill holes. I can hardly see the pearls. I don't understand why they would have been drilled in the first place.

    Bo

  6. #6
    Valeria101
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bodecia
    ...looks like a strand of silk to me with nothing on it but there are tiny .5 or so keshi on it. [...] I don't understand why they would have been drilled in the first place.

    Why.. for folks like myself ! Don't want to take sides or anything ... impressed with the extreme size, I've been looking for the uses of such pearls over time and found a few that would make a good excuse to wear them today. Not sure if single strands of such nano-pearls were ever 'in'. For some reason, I can't seem to find very compelling examples of early designs right now, some managed staying power (torsades - sure enough, long chain versions, that sort of thing), most failed (strange things sure did happen to small pearls). Somewhere on this website there is an example of Art Nouveau style necklace with enamel and opal stations on a seed pearl rope - quite something, that one

    Btw. this thread reminded me to check out a certain seller of sand-sized Akoya keshi: clicked on and found a new website with quite a bit more to look at than previously. Here it is. I do not know what these pearls go for now - they used to be $20-$40 for a better 16inch single strand a couple of years ago, if memory serves. The thin, spiky ones quite a bit less.
    Last edited by Valeria101; 03-01-2007 at 07:30 AM.

  7. #7
    sleight
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    Bodecia,

    Really and truly, the best way to drill pearls without a drill is to become friends with someone who has a pearl drill!!! Most likely, if you've purchased an undrilled pearl, it's one you've spent some $ on and you'll cry if you mess it up. I'm speaking from experience.

    When I first started out, I took my pearls to a local jeweler who drilled them for me for $5 each. A grand profit for her, but the reduced frustration level was totally worth it for me. Now I have become great friends with another local designer who owns a drill. We share all sorts of knowledge, advice, etc... and drilling!

    I remember somewhere on this forum, someone saying that it's possible to buy used drills from some of the larger companies. It's something I haven't had time to follow up on, but might be a way for you to get an affordable drill.

  8. #8
    Super Moderator Senior Pearl-Guide.com Pearl Expert jshepherd's Avatar
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    You may also make friends with a Chinese supplier or someone who is willing to have a drill included in a shipment. This is the drill available at every wholesale market:
    http://www.alohapearls.com/drill.php
    The usually sell for about 1000RMB, which comes out to about $130 at today's rate. If you can get it shipped "slow boat", you may be able to get it here for $25-$30.
    The drill is definitely inferior to those from Stuller or A&A, however. Those drills will cost more than $1k. The Chinese drill is much quieter, but does not have the same power. The Chinese drill bits, however, are some of the best. The Chinese drill also comes with nylon and metal cups. Some feel the nylon is safer, but I prefer the metal, and if you use the right size you never need to worry about scratching the pearls.

  9. #9
    Pearl Designer & Collector Senior Pearl-Guide.com Pearl Expert
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    Thanks so much for all that information. Am so tied right now that I can't do more than you both. Will re-read the posts and links again when I get up a little later today. I will seriously look into that Chinese drill.

    Thanks so much, Bo

  10. #10
    Pearl Designer & Collector Senior Pearl-Guide.com Pearl Expert
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    You may also make friends with a Chinese supplier or someone who is willing to have a drill included in a shipment. This is the drill available at every wholesale market:
    http://www.alohapearls.com/drill.php
    The usually sell for about 1000RMB, which comes out to about $130 at today's rate. If you can get it shipped "slow boat", you may be able to get it here for $25-$30.
    Jeremy,

    This site leads to a Pearl Drill but it is $899 US from the looks of it. Nice drill but not the $130 one. Do you have another site for the cheaper one

    Thanks, Bodecia

  11. #11
    Super Moderator Senior Pearl-Guide.com Pearl Expert jshepherd's Avatar
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    That Site imports the drill and resells it. I just posted the link as a reference to a Chinese drill. If you are currently sourcing anything from China you should be able to get any trader to include one with a shipment for something close to cost. I would't suggest buying the drill online there, as you can get the A&A drill for just a few hundred more - that would probably be the better move.

  12. #12
    DFrey
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    half drilling pearls while holding them in your hands is not that difficult. youneed to hold the pearl firmly and then use a soft touch to get the first indentation started after that back the drill out a bit and then apply pressure again until the hole is at the depth you want. A little patience and don't try and do it all in one push andyou should be fine.

    dfrey