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Thread: Drilling pearls

  1. #1
    Natural Pearl Senior Pearl-Guide.com Pearl Expert waimeamomi's Avatar
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    Default Drilling pearls

    I think I need a pearl drill, or a way to drill pearls. Anybody got advise? (what on this forum ). I have looked through threads etc, but still not sure what I need or where to go. Right now I'm not talking about drilling hundreds of pearls on a regular basis (but one can dream). I have a friend who says, rather sheepishly, that she uses a Dremel (?) drill. I don't nor can I spend lots of money, but I think I need one.
    Sheryl

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    ?All art is autobiographical; the pearl is the oyster's autobiography? Frederico Fellini
    Momi means pearl in Hawaiian!

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    Super Moderator Senior Pearl-Guide.com Pearl Expert jshepherd's Avatar
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    There are a couple of different options. Aloha carries the Chinese drill. We have one of the same models purchased in Zhuji for about $100. But we can't really use it for volume drilling. Instead we simply use the grinding function to sharpen bits. If you are going to be doing a lot of drilling you will need something better.

    We use drills from A&A Jewelry Supply in Los Angeles. It runs about $1000.
    http://aajewelry.com/templates/produ...lectedProduct=

    It works well. We keep three in the office and replace them about once every two years. But we drill hundreds of pearls every day. If you are not drilling quite as much it should last indefinitely.

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    Natural Pearl Senior Pearl-Guide.com Pearl Expert waimeamomi's Avatar
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    Thanks, Jeremy. I looked at the Aloha site which came up in my Google search. I'm thinking I'm going to be drilling more like 500 a year. Would the less expensive drill survive that or be a useful starter? Do you know of anything in-between? I can't justify or afford the 1k one right now.
    Sheryl

    http://www.etsy.com/shop/mkmPearls
    https://www.facebook.com/MaunaKeaMoonlight

    ?All art is autobiographical; the pearl is the oyster's autobiography? Frederico Fellini
    Momi means pearl in Hawaiian!

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    Pearl Knotting & Wire Expert Senior Pearl-Guide.com Pearl Expert knotty panda's Avatar
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    I have a Dremel. Handy little thing -- stress the "little" part. Despite it's size, it is powerful. I wouldn't drill pearls with it without a safe and secure way to keep my fingers out of harm's way. Also, Jeremy stresses using a drill that enters from both sides and meets in the middle; kind of like how they build bridges and built the chunnel. The Dremel doesn't do that.
    Pretty Panda pic by nlerner on her U.S. excursion last year, San Diego Zoo.[/SIZE][/SIZE]

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    Natural Pearl Senior Pearl-Guide.com Pearl Expert waimeamomi's Avatar
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    Have you used the Dremel on pearls? If so what type of bit?
    Sheryl

    http://www.etsy.com/shop/mkmPearls
    https://www.facebook.com/MaunaKeaMoonlight

    ?All art is autobiographical; the pearl is the oyster's autobiography? Frederico Fellini
    Momi means pearl in Hawaiian!

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    Super Moderator Senior Pearl-Guide.com Pearl Expert jshepherd's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by waimeamomi View Post
    Thanks, Jeremy. I looked at the Aloha site which came up in my Google search. I'm thinking I'm going to be drilling more like 500 a year. Would the less expensive drill survive that or be a useful starter? Do you know of anything in-between? I can't justify or afford the 1k one right now.
    I think it would be okay if you are drilling freshwater. We mainly drill Tahitian and South Sea and it really does not work well for those. The drill slows and stops in the center of the pearl.

  7. #7
    Natural Pearl Senior Pearl-Guide.com Pearl Expert waimeamomi's Avatar
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    Good to know, it's Tahitians.
    Sheryl

    http://www.etsy.com/shop/mkmPearls
    https://www.facebook.com/MaunaKeaMoonlight

    ?All art is autobiographical; the pearl is the oyster's autobiography? Frederico Fellini
    Momi means pearl in Hawaiian!

  8. #8
    First-graft Pearl Senior Guide Member Pearly Shell's Avatar
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    I use a Foredom flexible shaft drill. It has a foot pedal for speed control which I find really handy. I have used it to half drill Tahitian pearls and it works well for me. I start with using a very small round burr to create an indent for the drill bit to sit in. then I use a very small drill bit to drill through the nacre and into the bead nucleus. After I get a drill hole with the depth I need, then I start using thicker drill bits to widen the hole to fit the finding I've created.

    If you rotate the pearl as you are drilling it will help to make the drill hole fairly straight. The key is to drill slowly so you don't chip or crack the nacre.

    I'm still looking for a method that will allow me to fully drill pearls that would be less expensive than that 1K machine too! But if you are just needing to do a half drill, a Foredom might be a good alternative for you.
    Donna
    Graduate Gemologist & Pearl Devotee

  9. #9
    Pearl Diver Senior Pearl-Guide.com Pearl Expert Mikeyy's Avatar
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    The Chinese YDK works alright. Its inexpensive. I've drilled hundreds of pearls with it without problems. You just want to make sure you use sharp bits and back off a bit. Don't force it. Anyway its miles better then a dremel. I've never used the pricey Japanese drill. I'll bet its nice. I still think the key is sharp bits.

  10. #10
    Natural Pearl Senior Pearl-Guide.com Pearl Expert dkan 168's Avatar
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    I too am thinking about getting an inexpensive drill, and shall keep an eye on this thread

    DK
    Treat every life situation like a dog: if you can't play with it, eat it, or hump it, p1$$ on it and walk away

  11. #11
    Natural Pearl Senior Pearl-Guide.com Pearl Expert waimeamomi's Avatar
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    OK - Dremels - pearls or not? My friend says she has drilled Tahitians with it, but that it's slow going. I'm wondering how it would be on Tahitian keishis since there is no bead. That is the majority of what I have to drill right now. They are under $100 (the Dremels) but what bit would you use. Our local Ace hardware has a diamond tipped bit - would that do it? Anyone ever use the Dremel on pearls??
    Sheryl

    http://www.etsy.com/shop/mkmPearls
    https://www.facebook.com/MaunaKeaMoonlight

    ?All art is autobiographical; the pearl is the oyster's autobiography? Frederico Fellini
    Momi means pearl in Hawaiian!

  12. #12
    Pearl Diver Senior Pearl-Guide.com Pearl Expert Mikeyy's Avatar
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    Here is an ad for the YDK. $300 bucks is better then Aloha Pearls price of $699.

    http://www.tradekey.com/selloffer_view/id/205688.htm

    I got one for under $200 at the HK show

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    Pearl Diver Senior Pearl-Guide.com Pearl Expert Mikeyy's Avatar
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  14. #14
    First-graft Pearl Senior Guide Member laurenb's Avatar
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    Dremels are useful for all sorts of things-- polishing, cutting, buffing, carving. If I was going to attempt to use one on a pearl, I'd try to create a drill press setup that kept the drill on a straight vector. I have the flexible extension wand, so that wouldn't be too hard.

    Has anyone used a drill press for pearls? I ask because presses are everywhere, readily available secondhand and are very durable, but I believe the default chucks are for large bits. You probably wouldn't buy one for pearls, but if you already had one...

  15. #15
    First-graft Pearl Senior Guide Member Pearly Shell's Avatar
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    Pearls are soft, gemologically speaking, so you don't have to use a diamond tipped drill to drill through them. I have a Foredom flex shaft drill and I use stainless steel burs and bits. I've never used a dremmel, but I believe they should use similiar burs and bits.
    Donna
    Graduate Gemologist & Pearl Devotee

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