Pearl necklaces are a signature jewelry item that screams class and sophistication. While they may not be seen as frequently in today’s society, they are still appreciated by most people as high-quality jewelry.
Knotting your own pearls can be the perfect way to save money on a luxury item. Even if you’re well-versed in jewelry making, it’s important to know that knotting pearls requires a little bit of extra knowledge.
One of the most important factors to consider when knotting pearls is the size of the thread.
So what size silk thread is best for knotting pears? Size 6 silk thread is the best choice for most knotted pearl necklaces. However, the size of the thread you use really depends on the size of the hole. The most important thing to consider, besides size, is the material. Silk thread is the best choice for knotting a pearl necklace.
Keep reading to learn exactly which thread you should look for before knotting pearls and learn how to make your very own pearl necklace!
The Best Silk Thread for Knotting Pearls
Silk thread is always a giant step above any other type of thread available. It costs a bit more, but it is well worth the price. Once you try it, you will never want to use any other type of thread again.
Pearls and other beads slide onto the silk with ease. You never have to worry about knots or tangles. And because silk can take on any dye, it comes in a huge selection of brilliant colors.
Try these for your next beading project:
- White Silk Thread – This thread is perfect for stringing pearls because, not only will the color match almost perfectly, giving you a seamless strand of pearls, but it’s also a sturdy thread that will add class to your necklace.
- Black Silk Thread – If you have darker pearls or want to add a twist to the traditional pearl necklace, then black silk thread is a great choice. It will add a cool moodiness to your finished piece.
- Multi-Colored Silk Thread – This thread is available in 10 different colors and gives you many options for stringing your pearls together. No matter which color you choose, the fact that it’s a silk thread will keep your necklace looking classy with a little extra pizzaz.
The Importance of Thread Size
Thread size is often not taken into consideration when making or repairing a pearl necklace. This is a terrible mistake.
When the thread is too thick, the jewelry will never lay quite right. If the thread is too thin, the weight of the pearls will cause the necklace to stretch out very quickly.
Because of the various drill hole sizes and different sizes of pearls, silk thread is available in many sizes.
In most cases, you would use size D (0.0120 inch / 0.3048 mm) for 2 mm – 4 mm pearls; size E (0.0128 inch / 0.3251 mm) for 5 mm – 6 mm pearls; size F (0.0137 inch / 0.3480 mm) for 7 mm – 8 mm pearls; size FF (0.015 inch / 0.381 mm) for 10 mm – 12 mm pearls.
Using the right size of thread for your pearls will result in a much nicer looking necklace. It will hang better and last longer, too.
Putting a knot between each pearl takes a lot of thread, so you will need about four times the length of silk as the finished necklace. Silk thread is also available in various colors for unique creations or to match the color of the jewelry you want to make or repair.
The Importance of Drill Holes
The drill holes are a vital component to determining the thread size of stringed pearl necklaces and other types of beaded jewelry.
Most people don’t realize how important the size of the hole is to the overall appearance of the necklace. In fact, the size of the drill holes can completely alter the look of the necklace.
Pearls and other jewels do not come naturally with a neat little hole through the center. This hole must be drilled into the gem with a small, precise drill, operated by an expert.
This means that not all drill holes will be created equally. It is common for drill holes to vary slightly in size, even if they were all cut by the same manufacturer. Larger variations can occur when pearls are sourced from different companies.
There are standardized drill bits to try to keep all holes uniform and to the size specifications.
However, even a change in operator can vary the size of the holes. Even the same operator using the same drill bit for an entire shift will see slight variations from one pearl to another. That is a fact. No person and no piece of machinery are 100% perfect.
All holes have what manufacturers call “tolerance” levels. This means the amount of a hole can be larger or smaller than spec. on very tiny holes, these specs are extremely tight, or very near zero. The holes have to be very close to spec otherwise you would not know what size thread you need.
However, these minute variations will have little effect on the finished product. It only becomes a problem when you use pearls with a noticeably different sized hole. When making your own pearl necklace, try to drill each hole the exact same size.
The size and weight of the pearl will also have an impact on the size of the hole.
Smaller, lighter pearls will have very tiny holes, while larger heavier ones could have significantly larger holes. The smaller the pearl, the smaller the size of thread you should use.
Larger pearls can handle thicker threads. Note that imitation pearls have extremely large holes.
How to Knot a Pearl Necklace
Instead of walking you through the process myself, I thought it’d be more helpful for you to watch this awesome video by JewelrySupply on YouTube. Enjoy!
After you’ve watched the video, make sure to keep reading because I’m going to share some important reasons for why you would want to knot a pearl necklace in the first place.
Why knot a pearl necklace?
A long strand of natural pearls should be knotted. The longer the necklace, the more weight it has.
Knotting gives it more strength because not as much strain from the weight of the pearls is put on the silk, and therefore it will last longer. Silk thread is naturally very strong and durable, but why take the chance of it breaking at the most inopportune time?
At the other end of the spectrum, there are antique Mikimoto pearls that are not knotted and still in perfect condition.
So, is knotting a pearl necklace tradition among certain jewelers or cultures? Are there other solutions to keeping your pearl necklace safe and healthy? Should your pearls be knotted or not?
Let’s start by looking at the traditional way of preserving the perfect shape of a pearl necklace.
String, even high-quality silk thread has been known to break. To prevent you from losing all of the pearls on your necklace, jewelers began knotting the expensive string of beads. That way, if the cord did break, you would only lose one or two and not the entire strand.
Unless you didn’t notice the string had broken. Then the whole necklace would be lost.
In addition to loss prevention, the knot also serves as a buffer between the beads to prevent wear on the pearls when they rub together.
The outer layer of the pearl is quite delicate and soft. Too much hitting or rubbing against other pearls can cause this layer to chip, crack or wear down. A knot will effectively prevent this from happening.
Traditionally, pearls are thread onto a silk cord and a knot is tied between each of the pearls. After wearing the necklace for about 4 or 5 years, the cord will stretch and become thinner. You then have to take the necklace to a jeweler to have it restrung.
Jewelers generally charge a flat rate per inch of cord for stringing the beads plus a flat rate for each knot they have to tie.
Today, many people choose to restring their pearls themselves. Silk thread is readily available, plus there are many tutorials online to guide you through the process. With the right materials, it really isn’t that difficult.
You also know it is time to restring your pearls when the cord between the beads is getting darker or when there is a noticeable space between the pearl and the knot due to the silk stretching out. Silk thread is famous for not stretching, but over time, it can happen.
Knotting becomes tricky when you have very small beads. This is when you need a very fine silk thread because if the thread is too large, the knots will really stand out. This is not an attractive look.
One option is to leave the strand of small pearls without knots and run the risk of rubbing damage, or use tiny white or black rubber bands between the beads instead of knots. The rubber bands are actually just as unattractive as big knots, so your best option is a super fine silk thread.
Some jewelry experts believe that knotted pearls disrupt the shape or flow of the necklace. However, when done properly, this is not the case. The knots actually add shape and flow.
But in the end, whether you want your string of pearls knotted or not, the choice is yours.
When should a pearl necklace be knotted?
Ultimately, it boils down to personal preference and the style you wish to achieve.
Here are a few things to consider before you decide:
- Large natural pearls (greater than 1 cm in diameter) are expensive and very heavy.
- This weight can stretch or break a silk cord. In this case, it is highly advisable to use the size FF silk thread and to knot the pearls. With pearls that big, you could also use the rubber band method.
- Pearl necklaces with multiple strands are difficult to make because each strand is a different length.
- Getting them to all hang in perfect unison is tricky. Knots between the beds make it nearly impossible to make each strand perfect because making each knot exactly the same in size, shape, and form is nearly impossible.
- The space between the pearl and the knot may also differ. So, leave out the knots on multi-strand pearl necklaces.
- A single strand of natural pearls can go either way.
- They look great with or without knots. Knotting is a good idea for the protection of the outer layer and is recommended for a long necklace.
- But for a choker or shorter style, the necklace will stand up just as well and look much better without the knots.