Baby’s First Tahitian!


Dec 2, 2023
Three o’clock this morning I should’ve been asleep, but instead I was reading a jewelry discussion board and clicked a link to a recommended pearl vendor. I saw lots of pretty pearls, but when I saw the colors on this one things just kind of… happened. And now it’s on its way to me! It’s 15.7mm tall by about 12mm wide, and they’re drilling it for me straight down through the knob on the top. I considered having it half-drilled but given that it’s the most I’ve spent to date on a single bead, I’ll feel better if I’ve got a wire all the way through it- and I’ve got an idea for a design that will frame it nicely, too, with a decorative bit below as well as a cap fitted to the top- that little ledge is almost as if it was made for such a setting. Hand-fabricated silver jewelry is the bulk of my work, with pearls beginning to show up more.

I‘m still just beginning to learn about pearls and what I should be looking for, etc. This one was US$35. I honestly have no real sense or context for whether that’s what a pearl like this “should” cost, and we’ll see if I still feel the same once I get it into my hot little hands, but as of now I’m excited about it and comfortable with the price. What do the more experienced folks think, how did I do?
Adorable shape, and the colors and luster are very pretty. Well done!
Thanks! I can’t wait to get it in a lightbox. I know it’s still bargain-bin compared to many, but that’s fine by me- I’m in it to have fun making pretty stuff. I’m trying to study up on terms and grading and all that, though- I need to be sure when I offer pearl jewelry for sale I’m describing it properly in words ‘pearl people’ will recognize/be looking for, and gauge quality objectively. “Best I’ve ever seen” sounds great but it’s a low bar considering I haven’t yet handled many pearls beyond what the average bead shop offers.
Jsut my opinion but I think you did great! That's a unique, sizeable and beautiful pearl at a great price; and you can fabricate something wonderful from it. Hope you'll come back and show us what you make :)
Fair Warning ifutzwithfire ... I am not a perfect round pearl girl; the more unusual the pearl the better I like it :) Also, I do my best pearl buying at 3am LOL .... Look forward to seeing what you create, and Welcome!
Fair Warning ifutzwithfire ... I am not a perfect round pearl girl; the more unusual the pearl the better I like it :) Also, I do my best pearl buying at 3am LOL .... Look forward to seeing what you create, and Welcome!
Me too! That’s one thing that annoys me about the jewelry industry, so often of the “best of the best” gems all look alike and are downright boring. That’s one reason I go less for diamonds and more for things like labradorite and pearls. Color, variety, actual unique looks!
Break out the jet beads, I just got tragic news… it cracked during drilling.


((I’m currently cajoling the seller to sell the remains to me anyway, I’d rather have a go at turning it into a cabochon and setting it that way than have it altogether lost- but he doesn’t seem to want to. I’m not sure what to make of that, but ah well- I tried.)) EDIT: he agreed and let me have it! I may or may not have also bought a couple other things to reinforce his impression that I’m serious (and/or a lunatic eager to throw money at him, a role I’ll own to get my foot in the door!)

And he is replacing it with another I chose. Hopefully this one makes it, if it doesn’t I”ll start to feel like this is an omen about me venturing into pearls.
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Eeeeee, the tracking finally updated, and the replacement made it through drilling unscathed! Parcel should be here by end of the week with all sorts of goodies in it. I’ll be sitting by the mailbox staring longingly into the distance if anyone needs me…
I’m screwed. I’m so, so screwed, folks. Because the pearls all arrived safely and I’m in love and the rabbit hole is just yawning before me calling to me to do a big belly flop.

So here’s the whole order. The paler Tahitian is the one I originally bought which cracked under the drill. And the teensy peachy FWP button pairs fell into my cart with that. Then the darker Tahitian is the replacement for the cracked one, and the Edisons and white strand apparently snuck in the door as my self-control was on the way out.

Now that I have the original Tahitian in my hand I’m extra glad I convinced the guy to sell it to me anyway. I could be wrong but I think the crack is only shallow. The following images are under a 30x loupe and using my iPhone camera zoom. I have A 60x loupe as well but find it impossible to shoot through.


With the 60x I can just barely see into the bore that the cracking originates from, and on one side it doesn’t show up below the surface at all. The other does go down a little, but we’re talking less than a millimeter.

So my idea, and I own that I’m probably a lunatic for wanting to try this especially having been working with pearls for all of about seventeen minutes now, but my idea is to try to cut it in half and set them as cabochons. If I pull it off I hope to get two usable pieces, but I figure I have a pretty decent shot of getting at least one usable hemisphere. I’m wondering what the best thing is to cut it, though. I have some silicon carbide separating discs, but they’re 0.8mm thick. I can get some that are 0.38mm or even 0.13mm, but those have some decided flex to them. I’m a pretty good steady hand with my flexshaft so I think I can do it with the right disc. Any opinions on which to go with, or is there something entirely different I should be looking at?

Also the replacement Tahitian and the Edisons are undrilled. Which is fine, I want to drill my own and it lets me figure out the design before I commit to drilling them a certain way. I’m seeing pearl drills that are not twisted, just what looks like almost a chisel point, and some that are twist drills but a much tighter twist than the average bit I use in silver. And I have diamond drills I use for gemstone and vitreous enamels. For now I’m going to be drilling with a good clamping device and my flexshaft as a specific pearl drilling machine is way out of budget. Is there one bit type that’s best, or are there different scenarios for each? I’ve done a little searching but most of what I found was either about the machines or else in the “no seriously don’t even think about trying it” vein.


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Not a bad idea! Cut the pearl in half is a good idea.
Glad to see a new "Pearl Acolyte" in the making ;)
Welcome to our Family :D
Not a bad idea! Cut the pearl in half is a good idea.
Glad to see a new "Pearl Acolyte" in the making ;)
Welcome to our Family :D
I figure why not? And the more I’ve pondered, I think I’m just going to use the thick but rigid discs I have. A 0.5mm difference in material loss isn’t worth the risk of the disc shattering and destroying the pearl the rest of the way (and possibly me too). Now I just have to work up the guts to actually do it!