Instructions for Stringing Pearls
A Classical Method

Instructions for stringing pearls by pearl expert,George Kunz, in the year 1908.



The follow was explained by pearl expert, George Frederick Kunz, and his friend Charles Hugh Stevenson, as recorded in the "The Book of the Pearl" in the year 1908. Methods have since changed, but I thought this would be of interest to my readers. See more links on bottom of page for other methods of instructions for stringing pearls.

We have no record as to when the first pearl necklace was strung or have we a definite record of the first use of silk for stringing a necklace. The earliest illustration that we have been able to obtain of the use of pearls in the form of a necklace is the one from Susa, in which the pearls were secured with gold. A Syrian necklace dating about one or two centuries before Christ, was strung by means of a bronze wire. We will endeavor to give a few instructions for stringing pearls.

Pearl stringing is an art, easy as the instructions for stringing pearls may seem, and it is interesting to note the precision, care, and delicacy with which the pearl stringer performs his task. The first step of instructions for stringing pearls is to grade the pearls according to their size and color, so that they may produce the best possible effect. The largest and finest pearl is placed in the center; alongside of this, on each side, are laid the two pearls next in size which are the most nearly alike in form and hue; and so on to the end of the necklace. This grouping required both experience and judgment, and is of great importance in the instructions for stringing pearls, since the value of the pearls is often considerably enhanced by a proper arrangement. A skillful stringer is able to grade them so cleverly that only a trifling difference will be found in the weight of the two halves of a necklace.

Another aspect of instructions for stringing pearls consists in securing the end pearl by a knot to the diamond, pearl, or other clasp which may be used. When a necklace is being strung, the thread is passed through the metal eye, or pearl, or other object that serves as a clasp.

It is then tied with one knot, passed through the next pearl, and knotted between the second and the third, thus making the joint doubly secure. The other pearls are then strung in their order, a knot being placed after each fifth, fourth, third, or second pearl, or, should there not be enough to give a proper length to the necklace, between each single pearl. The deftness with which the knot is tied so as not to hold the pearl too tightly, and risk the breaking of the thread, and the precision with which forty, fifty, and even sometimes several hundred knots are made on a single string, is a pleasing operation to witness when learning instructions for stringing pearls, and requires the greatest care and nicety of touch. If knots are made frequently between the pearls, there is less danger of losing them should the thread break, as only one or two can fall off; sometimes, indeed, when the drill holes are very small, the silk thread, waxed or unwaxed, fits so closely that the pearl does not beome detached even when the thread breaks.

For these instructions for stringing pearls the thread used is invariably of silk of the highest standard of purity, strength, and texture, undyed, and not containing any chemicals. Two or three of these threads are held together, then with a knife the edges are very carefully scraped till the combined material of the three threads is less than the thickness of one. Some use a needle to scrape or fray to a sharp point. Then this point is stiffened by means of "white glue," the best material of this kind being pure gum arabic dissolved in water. A little of this is rubbed on the pointed threads. It stiffens in a moment, then the pearls are passed on, one after the other. If the pearls to be strung are already on a necklace, the instructions for stringing pearls is simplifed by the unknotting of the end of the necklace to be re-strung; two or three of the pearls are slid on to the new string, the ends or points of the new necklace thread are twisted together with the old ends and the pearls are simply transferred.

Frequently the holes have been drilled so as to leave the rims rather sharp; in this way the thread may be frayed out or even cut. This sharp edge can easily be removed by careful reaming. Silk of pure quality is the best material known for stringing pearls. A series of experiments were made with every available fiber of sufficient durability from every quarter of the globe, but silk alone was found to possess the strength, the flexibility, and the smoothness necessary to permit a very fine set of threads to pass through an opening as small as the drill hole of a pearl. In the case of a long chain or sautoire, more than three hundred pearls will be strung on a single row, one of over eighty inches in length containing over three hundred pearls, and it required a degree of neatness and patience that few posssess to do this in exactly the right way, so that the thread may not be cut, that the pearls may not be too tightly strung, and that the ends shall be carefully attached at the clasp, so that the necklace may hang well and there may be no danger of the ends breaking loose.

According to our instructions for stringing pearls the frequency with which it is worn, a necklace should be re-strung every three, six, or twelve months. The proper thime for re-stringing can generally be determined by the stretching of the thread so that it can be seen either between the pearls or at either end, giving the impression that one or more pearls are missing. A newly strung necklace is taut.

Where a collar is from thirteen to fourteen inches in length, there are frequently twenty-three rows of pearls, kept straight by four jeweled bars, and sometimes from ten to twenty-five pearls in a section between a bar. This would mean that there are more than two thousand pearls in a collar of small pearls. When one considers that at each bar and at the catch and clasp of the collar it is necessary to make a knotting, it is not surprising that it required from three to four days' time of a very expert pearl stringer to string or re-string such a pearl collar. A splendid example of such a twenty-three row collar is that belonging to Senora Diaz, wife of the President of the Republic of Mexico.

Frequent stringing may sometimes serve as a protection for pearls, as, if wax is used, the drill hole is likely to become coated with wax from the thread, and this prevents the absorption by the pearl of perspiration or moisture of any kind through the thread. Indeed, the thread itself, when waxed, does not readily absorb moisture, and as the interior of the pearl also becomes waxed, this serves to protect it from the absorption of humidity of any kind.

Below are two more methods of instructions for stringing pearls.

How to Knot Necklaces
Second Method of Instructions for Stringing Pearls
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