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  1. #1

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    I received this strand as a gift from my mother. She bought it at auction in 2003. The auction receipt says it is a triple strand of natural graduated pearls.

    I took the pearls to my regular jeweler to restring them. She only did one strand -- the shortest one. She said it was very difficult to string the pearls and that the strand came out much, much shorter than it had been before stringing so she didn't want to do the other two strands. She made a bunch of knots at the ends to lengthen the strand enough to wear. She didn't seem to think it was worth investing money in it until the strands break.

    My question is whether you think it is worth my looking around for a specialist stringer to have the whole thing restrung and possibly also to add some pearls so that the resulting necklace won't be too short. I can wear it as it is but if it a good necklace I might be willing to invest to have it restrung properly right away.

    Thanks for any advice.
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  2. #2
    Pearl Scholar Senior Pearl-Guide.com Pearl Expert pattye's Avatar
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    Welcome to the forum, Gail5!

    What a lovely gift from your Mother!

    This certainly appears to be a vintage necklace of natural pearls and as such would be quite valuable. The thread seems to be in poor condition. I'm not sure why your jeweler had so much trouble restringing. Are the pearls very tiny? What is the length of each strand? I'm not sure why the center strand turned out so much shorter. Please tell us about the clasp also, what metal and stones?

    I'd recommend restringing the whole necklace. The thread could be better matched and the knots much tidier; it will be beautiful and wearable. Matching your pearls will be pretty much impossible but perhaps the ones there could be rearranged. To lengthen, beads in metal matching the clasp or gemstones could be added to each side of the strands for consistency.

    Looking forward to others comments ~
    Pattye


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  3. #3

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    The clasp is rectangular with three small diamonds in a row. It appears partly white metal and partly gold metal. That is, the part with the diamonds is white metal and the tongue is gold metal. Also the safety catch on top of the part with the diamonds is gold metal. I couldn't find any readable markings indicating the type of metal and I didn't ask my jeweler to test it, although I am sure she would if I asked.

    The top two pictures above show the ends of the necklace and the last picture shows the middle. The very smallest pearls look less than 2mm. (The tape measure is in cm.) The jeweler said she had no trouble stringing the middle pearls but that the end pearls were very difficult. Also she said that she had to use a very fine thread to be able to go through the end pearls and this is one reason the strand shortened so much -- the knots came out smaller.

    She restrung the top (shortest) strand, not the central strand. As you can see from the photo, she left some knotted string at each end to create a length that she deemed wearable with the other two strands. The string of the other two strands is clearly very stretched out and also pretty dirty. This is why I wanted the whole necklace restrung. The shortest strand including the knotted string is around 38.5 cm and the longest one around 43 cm. Without the string at the ends, the shortest strand is around 37 cm. But I think she also added some double knots to make the strand longer.

    The pearls are pretty irregular in shape and color compared to cultured pearls. They also have an overall yellowish cast, although a few are very silver or pink. I don't think the jeweler cleaned them. Any recommendations about this? Don't clean until they are restrung? Or don't clean at all? I gently wiped them with a soft, damp cloth and they seemed to get shinier. My mother hadn't worn them for several years before she gave them to me.

    Although yellow and probably dirty, they seem somehow very lustrous, maybe more lustrous than newer cultured pearls. They seem to have a very unique look to them that I haven't captured well in the photos. I don't know if I am just imagining this or if this is a feature of old natural pearls. I have several other pearl necklaces but I hope I will be able to wear this one without ruining it.

    Thanks again for any advice.
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  4. #4
    Pearl Scholar Senior Pearl-Guide.com Pearl Expert pattye's Avatar
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    Thank you for the additional photos and information, Gail. Natural pearls can be more creamy in color and translucent with the variations in shape and size as we see in your strand. The pearls are even smaller than I would have guessed!

    The pearls likely do need a gentle washing and it was fine that you wiped them down. I keep the pearls in order and put them on a temporary strand to be washed. Directions are found under "Pearl Care and Cleaning."

    The bead tips should be removed and not reused. Most high end strands are now finished with French wire at the clasp, which protects the thread from premature wear.

    What is the shortest length you would want the inner strand? This is really important. Do you have a necklace or chain which is a length you like, such as 16 inches? Do you want the strands to be close together, or spaced a little? To achieve the wearable length you want, adding beads on either side of the clasp is a possibility. Matching the pearls is near impossible because of their age, shape and color. The longest strand seems to be only 17 inches and one can easily see how stretched the thread is.

    We do recommend learning to knot your own pearls, but this necklace is complicated as the pearls have varying size drill holes plus 3 strands. That said, I'd really love to see this necklace in its full beauty.

    Although your first choice would be to find a trustworthy stringer in your area, I hope you'll consider my offer to restring your necklace at no charge in return for allowing me to document the steps here on the forum with detailed photos. This could be a valuable reference and learning experience for all. The only cost to you would be shipping both directions and for added beads/pearls.
    Pattye


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    SO MANY PEARLS, SO LITTLE TIME----

  5. #5

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    Thanks so much for this very generous offer. I am sure you would do an exceptional job and it would be every enlightening to see your posts about the different steps, also for me. However, the necklace and I are currently in Italy! Shipping it to the US and back would be quite complicated, not to mention the customs fees.

    I am going to ask around for a reliable local pearl stringer who might be experienced with restoring this sort of old natural pearl necklace with teeny tiny pearls and will update if I succeed.

  6. #6
    Pearl Scholar Senior Pearl-Guide.com Pearl Expert pattye's Avatar
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    Oh, I thought you were in the US! You definitely must find someone in Italy; please do stay in touch!
    Pattye


    PatriciaSaabDesigns.etsy.com

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    SO MANY PEARLS, SO LITTLE TIME----

  7. #7
    Third-graft Pearl Senior Pearl-Guide.com Pearl Expert Lady_Disdain's Avatar
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    The old knots are very stretched out so the restrung strands will be shorter.

    I don't like to criticize other people's work but natural pearls deserve a better stringing job. Having that segment of knots at the end is not a good idea. It will get grungy very fast and it is a weak point where the silk can fray and snap. I would also have preferred to see it finished with french wire at the clasp as well. If the pearls are too small to double back, I usually finish off one thread before the 4th pearl, string the last 3 pearls on a single thread and then double back. If necessary, I use a glue "needle"

  8. #8

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    Thank you for your observations and suggestions. The job was either above the skill set of my jeweler or she didn't want to do something that would take a long time, cost me a lot or both. She had previously restrung a long akoya pearl necklace for me. She used French wire to attach the clasp and did a very good job in my opinion. However after she saw how much first natural pearl strand shortened when she restrung it I think she was hesitant to restring the others. She said it became so short that it couldn't be worn. She said an issue was that the thread that was thin enough to pass through the smallest pearls made very small knots and shortened the strand. I don't know whether she tried changing the thickness of the thread near the ends. She is the owner of a thriving jewelry store, so she is very busy and maybe looks at the restringing as more of a favor to a good customer than a money-making operation. She charged me very little for what she did and admitted it was just a temporary fix until the other strands broke and I decided what I wanted to do about the length. Maybe she thought I should be wearing the long akoya pearl necklace or other necklaces and not spending money on this one. I am not really sure. Shopkeepers in Italy are very polite to their customers so it is hard to figure out sometimes what they are really thinking.

  9. #9
    Pearl Enthusiast Senior Pearl-Guide.com Pearl Expert Pearl Dreams's Avatar
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    It could be restrung as a 2 strand necklace, to make it long enough to wear. Of course that would mean changing the clasp.

    Alternatively other small beads could be added near the clasp to lengthen the strand, beads with a larger drill hole to allow back-knotting. Gold beads, perhaps, or gold filled to save money.

  10. #10

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    So I am now considering trying to restring the triple strand necklace myself. I purchased the materials and then practiced restringing an inexpensive freshwater pearl necklace with big pearls that I already had. I am sure the result is far from perfect, but it is quite acceptable to my eyes. I am hoping the worst thing that might happen is that I have to bring the necklace back to my regular jeweler to restring.

    Following the suggestions here, I am planning to put little gold beads at the end of each strand to lengthen the necklace and to be able to use a not super thin thread without having problems doubling back at the ends.

    I have a few questions before I go ahead, order the beads, and cut up the necklace.

    1) Even though the pearls have a somewhat yellow-brown cast, I thought it might be better to get white gold rather than yellow gold beads. The pearls are very tiny and not really that colorful, so I thought the yellow gold might overwhelm them. Also the clasp itself is a white metal. Any opinions on this?

    2) The Italian site I found has the beads in a large variety of sizes, down to 2 mm, but also 2.5, 3 mm, and all sizes up from there in 1 mm increments. The very smallest pearls at the very ends seem to be around 2 mm. Is there any good reason to get beads larger than 2 mm, or should I just go with those? Will the 2 mm beads look too small or be too hard to work with? I am planning to get the beads in 18K gold and put around 4 on each end, enough to lengthen each strand a little less than 2 cm. The website has many different styles of 18k beads. Any reason to get one style over another, or just go with whatever seems nice?

    3) My biggest question is about attaching the string to the clasp. I see that each string has an additional metal piece holding it to the eyelet of the clasp. Given that I am going to use French wire, am I supposed to use this metal piece or remove it? If I am supposed to use it, how do I thread the string with the French wire through it? All the videos I have seen with French wire show it going directly into the eyelet of the clasp. If I am supposed to remove the metal piece, how do I remove it? It looks as though the metal pieces were there originally since they are also on the strands that my jeweler left alone. Maybe she didn't use French wire because she didn't want to have to cut the metal pieces that were already there?

    Thanks for any advice. Sorry to be such a newbie with all these questions. Below are a few of closeups of the clasp with the metal pieces.
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  11. #11
    Museum Pearl Senior Pearl-Guide.com Pearl Expert BWeaves's Avatar
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    I agree and using white gold beads.

  12. #12
    Pearl Enthusiast Senior Pearl-Guide.com Pearl Expert Pearl Dreams's Avatar
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    White gold beads are the way to go. I suggest using 2.5mm beads. They will be nearly twice the size of 2mm beads (calculated using the mathematical formula for volume of a sphere) and easier to work with. (A 3mm bead is over 3x as large as a 2mm bead.) If in doubt about the best size to use, buy some inexpensive beads and experiment first.

    The metal pieces you are referring to are merely the bead tips that were originally used to string it. They can be cut off with a wire cutter-- being very careful not to cut the rings that are part of the clasp itself. Or you may be able to pry them open using fine nose pliers. This is what they look like, opened up: https://www.etsy.com/listing/1578594...search_click=1

    Personally I'd just cut them off. Prying them open may put stress on the rings of the clasp.

    Fine gauge gimp should fit through the rings of the clasp. If it doesn't, you can attach small jump rings to the clasp rings, and pass the gimp through the jump rings. But I think fine gauge gimp should do the trick.

    As to the thread, I suggest the fine thickness of Beader's Secret in the best matching color or 10# Power Pro (but that would only be in white, which may be whiter than you'd like for the color of these pearls.) Beader's Secret is a polyester thread that is much easier to work with than silk, makes lovely knots, and doesn't stretch (unlike silk). It is sold on Etsy by Pattye (USA) and by another P-G member who lives in Australia.
    Last edited by Pearl Dreams; 10-07-2019 at 04:19 PM.

  13. #13

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    Quote Originally Posted by Pearl Dreams View Post
    If in doubt about the best size to use, buy some inexpensive beads and experiment first.
    What a great idea. Why didn't I think of that.

    Fine gauge gimp should fit through the rings of the clasp.
    I bought some supplies from Griffin in Germany, including their silver gimp in three different sizes.

    As to the thread, I suggest the fine thickness of Beader's Secret in the best matching color or 10# Power Pro (but that would only be in white, which may be whiter than you'd like for the color of these pearls.)
    Since I am in Italy, it would not be that convenient to get US materials. The Italian stringer's website I found said her favorite thread is Coats Gral, which is a lubricated polyester thread made for sewing leather. I was able to find some on a website for sailing equipment! It seems easy to use and was reasonably priced. However, it was only available in white or black, so I got white. I thought it was interesting that even these old-fashioned Italians are not using silk.

    Thanks for all these great suggestions. I am going to get some test beads to decide what size I need.

  14. #14
    Pearl Enthusiast Senior Pearl-Guide.com Pearl Expert Pearl Dreams's Avatar
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    Lubricated thread....lubricated with what? I'm asking because you have to consider that that lubricant will be in contact with the pearls for a very long time. I would want to know what the lubricant was and if it was safe for extended contact with the pearls.

    I think I'd opt instead for a non-lubricated polyester thread just to play it safe, given that your pearls are valuable natural pearls, and not replaceable.
    Last edited by Pearl Dreams; 10-07-2019 at 05:25 PM.

  15. #15

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    Quote Originally Posted by Pearl Dreams View Post
    Lubricated thread....lubricated with what?
    That's an excellent question to which I don't know the answer. It doesn't feel or smell toxic.

    The professional Italian stringer recommended this thread very highly, saying that she has been using it for over 30 years on the most expensive necklaces in a downtown jewelry shop. She says that the lubrification means that the thread doesn't abrade as much. But of course that is not a scientific guarantee that the chemical elements won't hurt the pearls.

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