Removing back from a pearl.


Well-known member
Jan 2, 2011
Somewhere this subject exists as I posted an answer a few months ago. But I wanted to post as I've changed my technique.

I have quite successfully used the microwave/bowl of water method in the past. Alternating with Acetone and a firm pull on the peg. This is a method that I read about here. However .. I must say I've always worried about the pearls with a bead nucleus and the possibility of the pearl cracking.

Soooo I had this verrrry expensive

AWSS that I was about to glue. Checked the size several times putting the pin in and out to make sure it was a good fit.. When I went to glue the 14k pin ... I changed the position of my hand just before placing it. Well those 5 seconds made a difference. The peg went in and stopped at 2mm I tried everything... the peg did not move and I was worried about breaking it off inside a 500 pearl. For two hours I did my normal routine... didn't budge.

I searched for an answer and found it here in a post from Rusty - he uses an electric kettle but I used a fine strainer and a small saucepan.
The strainer was laid across the pan so it was immersed in cool water but not near the bottom of the pan. Then I boiled the water. Rusty said you have to pull within a couple of seconds of removing the pearl from the water. Dishtowel in hand and pliers ready - I grabbed the pearl and gave a pull .. it moved. Repeated and pulled and it came out .

So this is now going to be my method.

1. small saucepan
2 strainer that doesn't touch the bottom
3 start with cool water and heat to boiling
4 remove from heat , remove the pearl with your smooth jewellery pliers
5 pull straight and firmly - don't twist but a little wiggle is ok
6 repeat
7 let the pearl cool naturally - do not shock it in cold water.

Big thanks to Rusty
Many thanks, Katbran, for refining and clarifying this process! And thanks from me, Rusty! What a "cliff hanger," adventure with your pearl, so happy the pin removal was successful. Sounds like this can work any time we need to remove a pearl from a post.
Thank you! Another method to try is always appreciated!
Interesting! So far I only used the method of heating up metal tweezers in the (creme brulee burner) flame and then holding the pin and tugging on the pearl until it came loose. The metal transports the heat quickly into the glue and the pearl stays cool.
Interesting! So far I only used the method of heating up metal tweezers in the (creme brulee burner) flame and then holding the pin and tugging on the pearl until it came loose. The metal transports the heat quickly into the glue and the pearl stays cool.

That's an interesting method!

Thanks Kat for adding to yours too. I've used the hot water method myself, but have never had to deal with especially stuck on pearls. This is a good one for the back pocket!
Thanks Kat & Morella. I have (accidently) cracked a pearl while in the process of trying to remove a pin (I get teary-eyed just thinking about it) so it's really good to have other methods to try.
For those who have successfully used the boiling water method to remove a pin/post from pearls, how long do you leave the pearl in the hot/simmering water?
Just the other day I removed some 14k gold backs. It took me 4 different boils in the microwave until they started to loosen up. I let the earrings set in the hot water for about 5-10 min, then test to see if they are releasing (gently twist). I wasn't planning to save the pearls; they were some dark fw buttons.
Interesting! So far I only used the method of heating up metal tweezers in the (creme brulee burner) flame and then holding the pin and tugging on the pearl until it came loose. The metal transports the heat quickly into the glue and the pearl stays cool.

This method sounds perfect for saving the pearl, too! Adding the gas cartridge to my shopping list as I already have the never used before torch.
Thank you, Pattye! LOL!, no wonder my attempt was unsuccessful—I twitched, majorly, after about two minutes. I was worried the pearl might be ruined. Will experiment with a longer “sit” time and see what happens. We do have acetone, so I could try that, too, but the fumes are horrid, so perhaps that experiment will wait for spring when windows can be opened, or I can put it outside.

I also tried the hot pliers method which had zero effect. It’s great to have various methods to use, just in case.
Cricketbug, I put the aceton in a jar with a lid. The lid stays on when the pearls are in it, then I fish up the pearl and the findings with chopsticks. The jar is narrow, so not much fumes.
Cricketbug, oh, I do get impatient; thought about just smashing the pearl, but afraid the posts would be ruined!

I did recently purchase a large bottle of 100% acetone at Ulta, sold as nail polish remover, yes, it's pretty smelly. But good to have on hand. I'd try the acetone first if I wanted to save the pearl.
I wish we could bundle all the threads on this topic. Its a great refresher. I used the Microwave method on a GSSP, but I am always a bit nervous using that technique on a costly pearl.
I had a GSS pearl stud pair, and sadly, lost one earring (breaks my heart, still, to this day). I've had the orphan for a few years, and tried a few different times to remove it from the post so I could make a pendant, but no luck. UNTIL TODAY. I tried the microwave method, which honestly, takes a little courage. I used a glass measuring cup, heated the water, and then dropped the pearl in, but that didn't work. I dropped the pearl stud into the water and put the whole shebang into the microwave for a minute, and then let it sit another couple of minutes. The metal was hot when I removed it, but oddly, the pearl only felt warm. Gently twisted, gently twisted, thinking it wasn't working ... and then the pearl slowly twisted off. Voila!

I can't tell you how many methods I've tried. So happy. :party:
Happy to hear it worked for you and to have your experience here for others to read!
Thank you ennui for sharing your experience and reviving this thread! It comes at the right time for me!

I have a beautiful single T stud earring with an 18K gold finding that I would like to convert into a dainty pendant. I tried immersing the earring into hot water, tried heating up the tweezers (both methods worked with my other projects) but the finding doesnt move at all. I never used the boiling water (just really hot one) and I guess I never left the pearl in the hot water for longer than 3 minutes so maybe that’s something that will do the trick for the finding. ( I dont have a microwave and no acetone method for me ) I need to try this but somehow I cringe thinking about the pearl in the boiling water...I just need a bit of a reassurance and I will go for it...
eolian pearls I agree, I am always scared of boiling water since it can soften the metal peg, and I have broken several pegs off inside of their pearls doing this... I think some of the success depends on how long the peg is and how far it is glued into the pearl. I've been fooled when I went to twist a pearl and it "gave", only for it to have actually been the peg breaking. I know you don't have access to acetone - is that pure acetone, or is nailpolish remover with acetone available? That is what I use, although it is lower acetone percent, but it still does the trick (then I put it in hot water that I pre-boiled for a few minutes)...If I can't use acetone due to a soft stone on the finding or a dyed pearl, then I will use the boiling method, but then I cool it to room temp for a few minutes, then put the pearl/peg into an ice water solution for a few minutes, then try to remove it. I feel this helps to make sure the metal isn't soft and less likely to break off. Just my two cents!!! Good luck!!!