Need help stringing Tahitian and black spinel bead necklace with Beader’s Secret


Well-known member
Jun 29, 2014
I bought some Beader’s Secret thread, needles and gimp from Pattye at the last Ruckus, and I am just now getting around to stringing my first necklace. (Hangs head in shame.) I bought a Belpearl necklace from Saks Off Fifth for a good price, but the thread broke the first time I tried to take it off. I decided to re-string it myself, which would also allow me to put the pearls in a more pleasing arrangement. There are 7 small faceted spinel beads between each pearl and also between the final pearls and the clasp. I have encountered two problems, and could use some advice, please.

Problem 1: I can get the needle with doubled thread through the spinel beads once, but I cannot go back through a second time after attaching the clasp. There were only about 6 knots in the whole necklace. One knot was after the first group of spinel beads next to the clasp, but there are only two strands of thread throughout the necklace. On the other side of the clasp where I have removed all the beads, there is a tiny knot right next to the gimp. The only solution I have come up with is to thread the needle and thread through the gimp and clasp first, then make the first knot next to the gimp/clasp, cut the thread tail as close as I can to that knot, and then string the first section of spinel beads. Any other ideas?

Problem 2: When I was doing my trial run, I put a section of gimp onto the thread and then tried to pull in through the O-ring on the clasp. (It is a small silver Orbit style clasp from Rio G.) I cannot get the gimp to go through the clasp. It seems like the diameter of the gimp might be too wide for the clasp?

Question: Once the other issues are resolved, for a 40” necklace with 8-10 total knots, what length thread should I cut to use?

This is the necklace:
pattern detail.jpg

Current clasp (shows knots):
old clasp with beads.jpg
old clasp with gimp.jpg

New clasp with gimp that won’t fit through:
new clasp with gimp.jpg
Gimp size:
I prefer Fine size gimp (.8mm) rather than Medium. (I think Pattye's gimp is Medium?) It fits more easily through the rings of clasps. I buy it from from Firemountaingems.
Alternative: Attach a jump ring to the clasp and thread your gimp through that. But you may not like the look of the jump rings...they extend the gap in the necklace that already exists because of the clasp.

Problems with doubling back through the spinels.
Get some small round or faceted black Czech glass or black crystal/Swarovski spacer beads to use for the end 3 beads. No one will notice they aren't spinels and the thread should go throught them twice. Make a knot before the large black bead.
Edited to add-- what size are the spinels? These are 3mm:

Length of thread
Since the finished necklace is to be 40" and the thread is doubled, you would need 80" just for the length of the necklace, plus more for the few knots and for ease of working with the needle. I'd use 130" of thread at least, to be safe.

However....I would not tend to string this with thread, because the rough edges of the stones can cut thread.
I prefer to use coated beading wire for necklaces that have stone beads. The most flexible and strong is 49 ply but that might not fit through the beads. 19 ply would also be flexible and you are more likely to find a gauge that fits through the spinels. Then you'd need to use crimps to finish it...I use Beadalon Scrimps.
Firemountaingems has its own version:
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I would definitely do this on wire. Keep in mind that it does come in different diameters from .10mm to ginormous. You want to make sure the crimps you use are appropriate for the wire size. Most wires have a notation on which crimps will work. I think Bella or Gempacked also sells wire in different sizes as well as crimps, wire guards, and covers. I think Rio Grande has them too. And one final tip: you may want to use small black silicone bumpers on the pearls. I find I can increase the tension slightly when I use bead bumpers as they absorb some of the stress. If you opt not to use bead bumpers, you'll need to allow for some slight movement of the stones and pearls because if you string them too tightly you'll crack a stone or chip a pearl.
I agree with PD and JC, probably best to string this rope up on wire, especially at this length. I'm not crazy about bead bumpers, but they do come in black, and a couple of sizes. Another option would be to use coordinating metal beads next to your clasp. You've taken on a big project, KaySD, and it will be beautiful! Part of the fun of all this pearly creative stuff, is that each project has its challenges!

That said, I do string gem beads/pearl combos with my Serafil thread. Others do also. The black spinel I've bought from several sources seems to be drilled smoothly. Other gem beads certainly can have rough edges and snag the thread. One can add to the numbers of threads used to increase the strength. I prefer gimp over wire guardians.

About my gimp: The Medium Gimp/French wire (1 mm) works well with all thread sizes I sell.

The Fine Gimp/French wire (.70 mm) works well with thread sizes #40 and #30, but not the heaviest, #20.
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I also use the small bead bumpers when separating small sharp stones and pearls. Also I use gimp with both thread and wire. I did see a very pretty necklace in that same 'look' with 3" of black diamonds and then a Tahitian. They used a tiny tiny little black crimp between the stones and the pearls. I'm assuming this was a safety feature if the strand broke... that said I've not found anything like the crimps they used . Still looking.

I think the idea of using the glass beads is brilliant. Those darn little drill holes are impossible to get back through.. at times you can barely get though them once.
I made a similar necklace with Tahiti pearls from Wen and labradorite beads and used jewellery wire with a magnetic ball clasp. Looks great and so far lasts just fine.
Thank you for all of the ideas.

I think the smaller spinel beads are around 2mm. I do have Soft Touch by Soft Flex Fine (0.014 inch diameter) nylon coated stainless steel wire and twist crimps. I previously used that wire and crimps to make a 20" necklace with just 2mm black spinel beads (to wear with pearl pendants).

It would certainly be easier for me to string the necklace on wire and not worry about knots. I am concerned the drape will be a bit stiffer with wire than with thread. I like to wear this necklace paired with a peacock rope, and I am not sure they will nest as well if one is on thread and the other on wire. With long ropes, they tend to come together in the center as the pass through the "valley of the girls." I am worried that using the wire may cause the necklace to have more of a stiff U shape that might sit awkwardly on top of my chest.

I will look for the finer gimp to use with wire or thread. I need to order some chain from Rio Grande anyway.
If you use a 49 strand wire, it should be supple enough for the peaks and valleys, however, the key is to get the tension just right on the stones. Too tightly strung and they will maintain a stiff U (if they don't chip and/or crack). I suggest that you experiment with how much slack to use to achieve the correct shape. Wire isn't too expensive but it's very easy to use a spool quickly. I buy in bulk, but for a one or two off project, it might be worth a back up. Also, I use 14k crimps, 14k wire guards, and 14k crimp covers. If you're looking to use "fine" metals, practice first using brass or base metal, because you need to be able to crimp just enough to hold, but not too tightly because it's possible to cut the strands of wire. You can use gimp over the end of a wire, but realize it won't tighten up as much as it does with thread.
Ok, so I found gimp that should work: Diameter/Width : 0.039" (1.0mm); Inside dimension : 0.7mm (.027"). The orbit clasp listing says: Ring(s) ID: .052". I assume ID is inside dimension, so that should fit.

I am still debating thread vs wire. Since I am paying for RG shipping, I might buy some 2-3mm silver or black glass beads to finish the ends if I want to use thread. The hole sizes for the beads I am considering are 0.022”, 0.024”, 0.032”, 0.035”, and 0.047”. What would be a good hole size that is big enough to get 4 strands of #30 thread through but not so big the knot slips back into the hole?
As JP pointed out the 49strand fine is the way to go with wire. The higher the number the more flexible it is. Wire is never going to be as loosey goosey as thread but the fine stuff is pretty good. I too have issues with peaks and troughs... though these days its more old rolling hills and valleys. I tend to keep all my necklaces so they sit at across the top like 24-26' .
Thanks, JP and Katbran. I just looked at the wire I have, and it says it is fine, but it is 21 strands. I'll look for 49 strand fine.
I'll be interested if you find any...I have not seen small gauge beading wire in 49 ply.