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My "Pearling" Story...

MotherOfPearlTrumpet

Well-known member
Joined
Aug 19, 2021
Messages
65
My pearl journey begins here, and my guess is that only pearl lovers will care to read this. In my younger years I always loved admired pearls. As a newly employed Legal Secretary (just out of college) I would go on my lunch hours and look at pearls in the downtown high-end jewelry shop. I eventually saved up enough to purchase a nice 5mm 22" strand and 7" bracelet. For many years, this was the ONLY pearl jewelry I owned, and they were reserved for special occasions only. (Why do we do this with jewelry anyway...) Fast forward to Christmas 2019 and a looming Pandemic.

Years before, my mother had received a LOVELY 3-strand 6.5mm Akoya necklace with a diamond clasp from my father. My daughter wore it at her wedding (something borrowed). Then, as my mother aged, she found she was not wearing her pearls often enough; as she always said, "Pearls are meant to be worn." So, my daughter inherited the strand from my mother that Christmas 2019. As a stay-at-home Mom, my daughter told me that she would not have a lot of opportunity to wear such a fancy 3-strand necklace but would love to have a single strand for dates, church and special events. So I did some research and found a reputable pearl restringing service, purchased 3-14K yellow gold bow clasps and sent the strand off to be broken down and restrung into 2-18" necklaces and 1-7" bracelet. They came back restrung and lovely! However, I did not check the clasps before sending everything off to be strung (and neither did the restringing service), and unfortunately one clasp was defective. Ugh! I noticed this when trying on the newly restrung pearls. The clasp seller did exchange the defective one for a new one, but I had to decide if I wanted to pay yet again to ship/insure/restring/ship back AGAIN. So, I asked myself, "How hard can this be...I'm handy an crafty." I looked on YouTube for videos on how to restring pearls! Then, I practiced on cheap beads, eventually moving to inexpensive freshwater pearls, and finally graduated to my mother's Akoya strand. I WAS HOOKED. So many challenges along the way, and still, so very, very much fun.
(Looking back, it would have been WAYYYYY cheaper to just have those pearls restrung again! Hahaha.)

Now, 2 1/2 years later, I have an extensive collection of pearl strands with new and vintage clasps that keeps me excited about wearing jewelry every day! During the course of my endeavors I was able to take the CPPA "Pearls as One" pearl course and was able to become certified. What a blessing that course was, as I searched for the next perfect strand to re-work. There is NO WAY I can show you everything I've done; it will take many postings. However, I will get started today! Perhaps someday I'll sell some of these lovely strands, but for now, I just love the collection. South Sea Whites, South Sea Goldens, Blue Akoya, 2.5mm to 10mm Akoyas, WWII Graduated Strands, Kasumi Pearls, Freshwater pearls of many colors, rice pearls on a 15 strand fat rope necklace (I used the diamond slide clasp from my Mother's original 3-strand necklace), Tahitian blues and grays, even mixing crystal beads and other stones like Jade and Lapis with pearls. I have found designers of quality findings as far away as Israel, who have crafted special clasps and enhancers for me, and found US suppliers with current stock of lovely gold and gold filled or rhodium dipped silver findings that are perfect for so many different needs. To me, the clasp is as important as the strand. My goal is that the clasp/earrings/bracelet values should appropriately match the value of the pearls.

Now, I'm ready to start sharing what I've done with all of you. It has been especially fun to find you all, my pearl brothers and sisters, who share the passion and love for this wonderful creation of God, Man and Nature. Thank you Mr. Mikimoto for perfecting the cultured pearl process!

So, here it goes. Not sure if I should start a whole thread of my own to share these creations (or if I'm even allowed to start a Thread of my own...?) , or post to existing threads. That's why I am starting here on "Show Us Your Pearls!" I'm open to suggestions as to how to share what I have with the rest of you. Posting on the Forum is new for me.

Blessings and thank you for your shared love and interest. I seek only to encourage others and grow in my own knowledge of "Pearling" (the new VERB my daughters lovingly referred to what I do in my spare time). I look forward to continued learning from all of you.

Webster's Definition: Pearling /ˈpərliNG/, noun. 1. the activity or occupation of diving or fishing for pearl oysters. "Pearling was an exciting yet dangerous occupation."
My Definition: Pearling /ˈpərliNG/ verb. 1. the disassembling, reworking, and restringing of pearl jewelry to fill ones time with beauty and new creations. 2. the act of working with pearls, including but not limited to: drilling, stringing, threading, matching, arranging, loosing in the carpet or on the work table, etc. 3. the search for pearls (anywhere, but especially online) to create new jewelry. "Where's Mom?" "She's upstairs pearling again."

Pictured below is a 6-strand Akoya mixed size necklace. The clasp, such a beautiful/unusual/amazing find, had 6 strands of gray Keshi (2-2.5mm-SO tiny...) on it. I painstakingly restrung the Keshi with a different method on a 18K White Gold clasp. I'll share that later.
For this necklace, I worked hard to find varying sizes of Akoya pearls that would work well together. 2-3mm, 1-4.5mm, 1-5mm, 1-5.5mm, 1-6-6.5mm. I was so happy to find all of these different strands and have them match so well in color and quality. It was quite a search. The true challenge was getting the lengths to work. The necklace is 18" long twisted (19" untwisted) and the clasp is 14K Yellow/White Gold with tiny diamonds. The connector opens on both sides and clips around the center "ring." There is a 14K yellow gold heavy bead at the clasp location on each side of each strand to keep the pearls away from the edge of the clasp. It made for a better transition between clasp and strand, rather than cinching the pearls all the way to the inset "grid" on each clasp end. I was really happy with how nicely it turned out.

Enjoy! I am so happy to share this with all of you. Definitely one of my "later" endeavors on the "Pearling" learning curve. (Wanted to make sure the image was large enough to really see the detail.) I'm just getting started. More pictures and stories to come, that is, if you approve.IMG_1164[1].JPG
 

CortezPearls

PG Forum Admin
Joined
Aug 26, 2005
Messages
2,914
Oh yes! Loved your personal story and your definition of "Pearling" (y)
And of course...wow! You've got a beautiful pearl creation there!
Welcome to our pearl loving forum!
 

MotherOfPearlTrumpet

Well-known member
Joined
Aug 19, 2021
Messages
65
Thank you for your kind interest. Here is the Keshi strand I spoke about in the story. These are very tiny 2-2.5mm gray Keshi pearls, over 175 per strand and there are 5 strands. One strand was missing when I bought the clasp with the pearls. I decided a white gold clasp would look better with the gray, so I used this lovely magnetic twist 14K white gold clasp. I tried stringing them with #0 silk through the tiny holes and it shredded and broke by 3/4 way through the first strand, as the Keshi are "hollow" and the drilled hole is rough. Thicker silk just wouldn't fit. So, I decided to try "extra fine" beading wire with a silicone coating and that worked much better. I had to keep snipping the ends because they would get ragged as I strung, and strung and strung. I used a 14K white gold crimp bead and 14K white gold heavy ball beads close to the clasp, again, to give some distance between the inset "grid" and when the pearls start just outside the clasp. I don't think I've ever seen a string of pearls like this one...so unique! Almost looks like sea urchin spikes. So many different shapes, some even look like musical eighth notes. IMG_1082 (2).JPGIMG_1081.JPG
 

MotherOfPearlTrumpet

Well-known member
Joined
Aug 19, 2021
Messages
65
I love the story and the journey! Finding all those small pearl sizes is a real job. The torsade turned out beautifully!
And about every 10th one required a reamer to even get that extra fine beading wire through. Pearling is definitely NOT for someone who can't handle the tedious! Just makes the final result that much more beautiful.
I'm so honored you took time to read the story and look at the photos. Thank you for your encouragement.
 
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CortezPearls

PG Forum Admin
Joined
Aug 26, 2005
Messages
2,914
Again: Loved your personal pearl story and the photos.
This keshi torsade is exquisite! I have seen just a few like this one, but this one is truly exquisite, and the clasp is very nice!
 

MotherOfPearlTrumpet

Well-known member
Joined
Aug 19, 2021
Messages
65
Time for another picture. Sometimes the pearls are the inspiration and sometimes it is the clasp that is the inspiration. This time it was both. I found two similar strands of blue Akoya pearls (not the greatest quality, but lovely color variations when seen on a full strand). Then I found this vintage 14K yellow gold diamond bow clasp. I had never seen one like it. The photos don't do it justice. It is very heavy gold and about 1 1/8" long. The diamonds stand up taller and that is the mechanism you press to open the clasp. There is a jump ring on each side for one strand and 2 holes to thread the gimp on each side for the other strand. Threading the gimp and making sure the lead silk thread was long enough was a challenge (and took several attempts), as was making the strand lengths appropriate so that the pearls would hang properly around the neck. But the end result is a stunning blue necklace. I typically wear the clasp on the side of my neck instead of at the bottom (as pictured on the display). That way the clasp will not roll and the diamonds sit upright to catch the light properly. These blue pearls match so many clothing colors in the blue/gray color range.
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BWeaves

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Joined
May 13, 2015
Messages
6,450
I LOVE it. I love the 2 sizes of pearls. I love the clasp. I love that you wear it on the side.
 

MotherOfPearlTrumpet

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Joined
Aug 19, 2021
Messages
65
OK, so not all necklaces have to be expensive creations...sometimes they are worn just to celebrate life. Here is a Red/Coral, White/Freshwater Pearl, Blue/Dyed Tiger's Eye necklace I made to wear for Memorial Day/Flag Day/July 4th/Veteran's Day. It SCREAMS Patriotic with the Swarovski Crystal Rondels. I found this lovely Rhodium Sterling Silver clasp that helps so much with keeping the strands laying flat, as the ring helps adjust strand length with movement. I always get so many compliments on this strand. I added my initial "B" charm just for fun. I was trying to copy the design of the flag and hit it pretty close.
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Camhatch

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Joined
Jun 3, 2013
Messages
56
I love your definition of ‘Pearling’….especially loosing in the carpet!
And beautiful work….looking forward to seeing the rest of the collection….although we all know that a collection is never really finished is it?🤔😊
 

MotherOfPearlTrumpet

Well-known member
Joined
Aug 19, 2021
Messages
65
So while I have been on a multi-strand kick, I'll continue with 2 more installments. This strand was inspired by this absolutely stunning clasp. The clasp holds 6 strands but had only 3 strands of lesser quality Akoya pearls when purchased. I used those Akloyas other projects, but found these really nice, round, tiny blue "Tahitian" or perhaps freshwaters; not quite sure. They came from a seller who purchased a warehouse of "older" jewelry making supplies in Rhode Island, in an area that was apparently "The Jewelry Capital of the World" in days gone by. He is selling things from the warehouse at remarkable prices and I loved how these dark blue pearls matched the genuine no-heat sapphires. The clasp was VERY worn...yellow gold showing through, and the hinge on the back was also worn. So my jeweler repaired and rhodium dipped the clasp before I restrung it with 6 strands of these lovely 3-3.5mm pearls. I just love finding vintage jewelry that has been very well loved...you can almost feel the joy the former owner had in wearing it often. This is a GREAT blue-jeans-outfit multi-strand. It goes dressy or casual, twisted or untwisted.IMG_1122 (2).JPGIMG_1123.JPG
 

MotherOfPearlTrumpet

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Joined
Aug 19, 2021
Messages
65
And the second installment today is the clasp that started this whole endeavor with pearl stringing. This is the 14K Yellow Gold Diamond Bar clasp that held my mother's Akoya 3-strand. When I had it restrung in New York, the person restringing said she could only give me the value of the gold and diamonds, which really wasn't that much. I told her to return the clasp with the finished strands and that I would find another use for it. I didn't want to spend too much money on pearls...just wanted to re-use the clasp with something striking; especially since the clasp had been a gift from my father to my mother. So, I ordered BUNCHES of freshwater smooth tiny pearls from China. It took me SO LONG to string all these pearls. There are over 100 pearls per strand, all knotted with #1 silk thread. I had many challenges getting 5 strands to fit inside the tiny jump rings. NO WAY 5 strands would fit. The gimp took up too much room. So, I eventually had to string one group of 3, and one group of 2 per jump ring. Pulling those tight and not tearing the thread was challenging, because the other "waiting to be knotted" strands were also in the way while working on the current strand. At one point, finishing the last knots of a 3-strand group, I pulled too hard with my thumbnail to tighten the knot and it BROKE! ARGH, had to start all 3 strands over again. Getting the lengths to work was also challenging. I had it finished and realized that one group of 3 was just too long and once again, had to start over again with all 3 of those strands!!! For any of you who string pearls, the work is not only restringing, but cutting all those tiny knots and rethreading them first. So, by the time I was done I calculated over 2,700 knots to complete this necklace (including all my failed attempts, my mistakes not being careful enough with the thin silk, the necklace itself, and then the final shortening to get it to lay properly). Not expensive in pearls, but definitely expensive in time. It is so fun to wear this strand. It dresses up just about any outfit. Pearls don't have to be expensive to be beautiful, don't you agree? I also think about all the poor primarily women and children in China, bending over for long-hours, harvesting these pearls. I also think about the people responsible for drilling these tiny creations and putting them on strings to sell for a pittance. The labor of those dear people is a reminder of the true cost of all things beautiful. I am thankful for each and every one of them. I wish I could show them this necklace...so they could share in my joy. I used the left over pearls to make a simple 5 strand one-touch clasp bracelet.
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MotherOfPearlTrumpet

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Joined
Aug 19, 2021
Messages
65
I found these beauties and wondered what time period they must have been popular. Pearls set in gold with diamonds at the front of a necklace, with a pearl string providing the rest of the necklace. Most of the strands I've found were about 14" long so It made me wonder if they were 1950's when women's necks seemed to be smaller than what they are now. I restrung these three necklaces using extra gold beads or replacing the necklace pearls with a longer strand that matched the pearls on the gold mount. Two of the sellers advertised these as "Bib" necklaces. I would appreciate any information as to the time period and the proper name. Of all the smaller pearls I wear, these get the most comments from the younger generation.
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MotherOfPearlTrumpet

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Joined
Aug 19, 2021
Messages
65
My profile picture is a double strand of lovely vintage Akoya pearls. I was bidding on these when the price climed too high for my pocketbook. I am a long-time career minister of music at a liturgical church. I was going that morning (of the bidding) to provide music for a long-time VERY dear woman who had passed earlier during COVID but her memorial services had been put on hold. Once it was considered "safe" to do these services again, her family had planned a lovely memorial service for her. Marilyn had been a member of our church for a long time and had ALWAYS been so encouraging of the music, which, of course as head of the music department, endeared her to me even more. She had also been a long-time church employee at the higher-up levels of the denomination, so she totally understood the challenges of church work. At the end of her service her daughter handed me an envelope. It is not uncommon for the minister of music to receive a token of appreciation from a grieving family as a thank you for the music. When I opened the envelope it was a check about 5X larger than I had ever received for a service of this type with a special note that Marilyn had wanted me to receive this amount for providing music at her memorial service, given with great thanks for my long and faithful ministry at the church. I was absolutely blown away...not so much by the money, but by the loving effort this lovely woman took to appreciate me before her passing. It made my heart swell. I couldn't just put this money toward bills...I went and bid that amount on the pearls, and won the auction. These are now affectionally called my "Marilyn Pearls". The 14K white gold double clasp was set with rubies, but the center stone was cracked. I had my jeweler replace it with a similar size diamond. I now wear them at every funeral and memorial service. I remember Marilyn with great affection each time I wear these pearls, like she is giving me a hug around my neck.
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jshepherd

Natural Pearl
Joined
Jun 22, 2004
Messages
5,744
My profile picture is a double strand of lovely vintage Akoya pearls. I was bidding on these when the price climed too high for my pocketbook. I am a long-time career minister of music at a liturgical church. I was going that morning (of the bidding) to provide music for a long-time VERY dear woman who had passed earlier during COVID but her memorial services had been put on hold. Once it was considered "safe" to do these services again, her family had planned a lovely memorial service for her. Marilyn had been a member of our church for a long time and had ALWAYS been so encouraging of the music, which, of course as head of the music department, endeared her to me even more. She had also been a long-time church employee at the higher-up levels of the denomination, so she totally understood the challenges of church work. At the end of her service her daughter handed me an envelope. It is not uncommon for the minister of music to receive a token of appreciation from a grieving family as a thank you for the music. When I opened the envelope it was a check about 5X larger than I had ever received for a service of this type with a special note that Marilyn had wanted me to receive this amount for providing music at her memorial service, given with great thanks for my long and faithful ministry at the church. I was absolutely blown away...not so much by the money, but by the loving effort this lovely woman took to appreciate me before her passing. It made my heart swell. I couldn't just put this money toward bills...I went and bid that amount on the pearls, and won the auction. These are now affectionally called my "Marilyn Pearls". The 14K white gold double clasp was set with rubies, but the center stone was cracked. I had my jeweler replace it with a similar size diamond. I now wear them at every funeral and memorial service. I remember Marilyn with great affection each time I wear these pearls, like she is giving me a hug around my neck.
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Great name!
 

KarinK

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Sep 7, 2010
Messages
1,851
Lovely stories! Thank you.

The blue pearls are most likely dyed FW.
 

MotherOfPearlTrumpet

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Joined
Aug 19, 2021
Messages
65
Lovely stories! Thank you.

The blue pearls are most likely dyed FW.
Yes, they may be. They were sold me me as Blue Akoya, but in the end, it doesn't really matter. It's the clasp that has the best enduring value, and the joy in wearing them. Thanks for your input.
 

MotherOfPearlTrumpet

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Joined
Aug 19, 2021
Messages
65
So, these were also advertised to me as Blue Akoya, but may also be freshwater. I love the purplish blues to deep blues on the nacre. The little heavy bell-clasp is 14K yellow gold. A person just can't have too much blue! Everyone have a beautiful day!
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