Need Advice...thread or wire?


Well-known member
May 12, 2012
Question: If you are mixing gemstones and pearls, do you string on thread or wire? I have heard wire is not good for pearls, but maybe it doesn't matter so much if you have only a few pearls on the finished piece? Thoughts and advice appreciated!!! :)
I strung on wire for years before learning to knot, the designer wire in 19 and mostly 49 ply that is nylon coated. That wire is strong, flexible and less likely to wear on the pearls.

That said, IMO, thread gives more flexibility to the finished necklace, especially if knotted. Sometimes I use more than 2 strands of thread, depending on the size of the holes. Some gems beads have been drilled with large holes, others, like small roundels, may have holes tinier than the pearl. Some gems will be rough at the edge of the hole too.

So it is pretty much up to you! Do you want to share what kind of beads and pearls you are working with?
Thank you for the advice!!! I am not exactly sure yet what materials, but I'm thinking right now some faceted labradorite and a few lavender/pink/platinum kasumi style pearls that I have laying around. I may change my mind though, there are lots of beautiful stones to choose from! I feel another thread order in my future shortly :)
If you use wire, you can significantly increase the flexibility of the strand by using 2mm round beads (gold filled, garnets, etc) as spacers, to substitute for knots.

I would do this with lower-end pearls. For my best pearls I still prefer thread with knots.
PD, Yes, great point! I've often done that, even 1.5mm blackened silver. When you get down to 2mm size and smaller, the price is fairly reasonable.

The other thing I do when using wire is to lay out the strung up necklace in a curve before crimping, leaving just a very small slack space in the wire, approx 1-2mm, so there is not a strain on the beads. Some gemstone beads are more fragile, opal, for example, and small roundels can be broken apart rather easily. Also something to consider when deciding whether to use wire or thread.

Pearls and labradorite sound yummy together!
Oh, I agree-- leaving a little slack can be very helpful with wire. Everything hangs better.
Thank you for all of the tips, I really appreciate it!!! One last question, if you use the small spacer beads in between the pearls but you are using thread, do you knot before and after the spacer beads? Thanks again for all of your expertise!
I've never used spacer beads with thread, just with wire....but if the spacer has a large enough hole, then knots before and after it would mostly be concealed by the bead.