Best pearl size for a basic tin cup necklace?


Community member
Mar 25, 2012
I hope to get a basic tin cup made one day, maybe with an odd number of pearls like 7, on an 18-inch chain. What is the recommended size range for the pearls? I would like rounds, off-rounds, drops or baroques, or a mixture of these shapes, as long as each pearl complemented one another.

Would 10mm to 12mm be a good size range for the pearls? Should all pearls be the same size and shape? I have not seen a tin cup in person. I don't need a big feature pearl in the centre. I would like SS or Tahitians or a mixture of both. Any ideas appreciated.
While they don't need to be the same size, shape, or even color, you may want to reconsider the big feature pearl. When you're using a variety of pearl sizes and shapes on a relatively short necklace, they tend to slip and slide around your neck. The weight of the big pearl keeps the necklace in place.
I haven't actually made mine yet or bought the pearls, but have considered sizes and am narrowing down options. However, I'm considering at least 36" on my tin cup. The pearls closest to my neck will be smaller and the ones furthest away the largest. The larger your pearls, the longer you will want your tin cup since larger pearls tend to take more room. Be sure the chain you use matches the size of your pearls too. I'm considering 8-12mm for mine, with the possibility of a center removable pearl. The hardest part for me is narrowing down the colors.... there are so many beautiful choices!
Tin cup? I see this being used quite a bit. Is there a photo?

This necklace in the 1996 Rene Russo/Kevin Costner movie "Tin Cup" started the trend:

While they don't need to be the same size, shape, or even color, you may want to reconsider the big feature pearl. When you're using a variety of pearl sizes and shapes on a relatively short necklace, they tend to slip and slide around your neck. The weight of the big pearl keeps the necklace in place.

Thanks for the suggestion. What if I had five or seven matching pearls at the front and sides of the necklace, but none at the back of the neck? Would this help keep the necklace better positioned, or not as well as a pendant pearl in the centre?
One way to test out a new design's wearability is to temp knot your pearls or practice beads onto a heavy thread and try it on in the ways you would like to wear the piece. That way you can observe how the stones hang :)
Tin cups are a lovely wearable style. With a 36 inch necklace, if you're planning to both wear long and doubled, pearls similar in size may be a consideration. If the center pearls are much larger, remember they will be at the back of your neck when worn doubled.

Very valid point Pattye. I've thought this out and until I actually make one, I am not sure how it will work, but I'm considering the lowest part of my chain to have no pearls (this is where a removable pearl pendant comes in). When doubled, the chain will be flush against the back of my neck, well, it should according to my (mis)calculations. ;) I'll have to play around with some string to get the distance just right when I get my pearls so the pearls are staggered when doubled and not on top of each other. Hope that makes sense.

Pearlharbourer, if you're like me and have semi/long hair and never wear it up, no one will ever see the pearls behind your neck, which is why I won't bother to place pearls there. However, if you have short hair or do wear your hair up, it might look a little bare if you have pearls close together throughout your entire strand except the few inches in the back. You can also look at the tin cups sold on various sites and see how the pearls are spaced to get a better idea of how they are spaced and what they will look like.
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I often don't place the pearls behind near the clasp and will start them around the collar bone or a touch higher. If someone wears their hair down or shoulder length then that's where I start them ... if they have short hair I start them around 3 inches from the clasp. Using the same size is best as Pattye pointed out. Personally I like 10mm pearls. 36' is a good length for doubling.
As for the pearl placement - when you double it you just fiddle with the length of the two 'necklaces' and you'll be able to get the pearls to land between each other.
Amti personally I do not want large gaps near the clasp. I have several tin cups. The longer ones I sometimes wear doubled. If there are large pearls only in the front they end up in the back. Pearl placement is key for wearing them doubled to see what colors will be next to each other. The back needs to be just as beautiful as the front because you never know when the clasp will get twisted around as in the bottom picture which I did on purpose.

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There does not seem to be a hard and fast rule to tin cups. The only limit is the imagination. First picture is the metallic doubled with a souffle pearl enhancer. Second picture is the baroque akoya with a white metallic freshwater drop.
wendy and me at ruckus - Copy.jpgIMG_0269.jpg
Newberry, those are some of the most beautiful tin cups on earth! What a treat to see them again :)
LOL, so those are tin cup necklaces? I have been seeing that term as I've been going through the threads and finally clicked to find out what they were. I have been making these necklaces for years. Now I wonder if I should put "tin cup" in my descriptions if that is a popular term.
This is my PP Tahitian tin cup, 18 inches long, the pearls are 9-10mm and 10-11mm. The centre pearl is slightly larger than the others, so sometimes it pulls the necklace in a bit of a V shape; when I don't like that I simply rotate the necklace a little bit, so it's off centre.


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Here is my favorite tin cup I own. Its a scattered tin cup with metallic fw pearls about 7-9MM. Hisano put it together for me

spacing is 1/2 inch

I really like that size of FW for this.

Lovely ladies, question: What is a good size for simple cable chain that strong but light and pretty in MM?